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Monday, January 30, 2012

Blog Tour Guest Post: Resa Nelson & giveaway

Please welcome Resa Nelson, author of The Dragonslayer series (The Dragonslayer's Sword and The Iron Maiden) and Out Lady of the Absolute. If you haven't read this series yet, you should! There's also an awesome giveaway, so stick around.

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How I Created and Designed a Sword for Dragonslayers

My research for my 4-book Dragonslayer series included taking a course in blacksmithing (because my main character is a female blacksmith) and taking courses to learn historically accurate ways to use medieval weapons (because she makes swords for dragonslayers). Earlier in this blog tour I wrote about how I modeled the fantasy dragons in my books on a real animal: the Komodo dragon. Today I’m going to tell you how I decided what kind of sword my characters would need to kill one.

Don’t get me wrong: I love dragons. When I was a teen I loved Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series. But in my Dragonslayer world there are two types of dragons. One type you don’t want to kill. But the other type is extremely dangerous and won’t hesitate to kill people – that’s the type of dragon that must be slain.
Because Book 1 in my series is called The Dragonslayer’s Sword, I decided I need to pay a lot of attention to the exact type of weapon my main character forges. After all, her sweetheart is a dragonslayer and her work is what keeps him safe.

I took courses where I got hands-on experience using medieval weapons, and I spent most of my time studying how to use the German long sword. I’m (almost) 5’2” and the German long sword stands nearly as high as my shoulders, about 4’ or so tall. It’s a two-handed weapon, so you grip it pretty much the way you grip a baseball bat except you keep space between your hands: you jam one hand against the pommel and the other hand against the crossguard. For me, that means there’s about a 5” gap between my hands. Even though the sword is huge, this grip gives you a lot of control.

A common misconception is that swords are heavy. As big as the German long sword is, it typically weights 2 or 3 pounds. If I lived in the Middle Ages and devoted years to developing my sword skills, I think this type of sword is the largest I’d be able to handle comfortably. And if I were to face a dangerous dragon, I’d want the longest sword I could find to keep as much distance between me and the dragon as possible!

My next decision came from library research. I modeled my fantasy world on the beginning of the Viking era, and I learned that there was a technique (which tended to be a well-kept secret among sword-makers) called pattern welding. In a nutshell, you can’t predict how strong or weak any given piece of iron is going to be until after you’ve already made a weapon out of it and you use it in battle. It will either hold up or it might bend or break – and you’ll be dead if that happens. If I were facing a dragon, there’s no way I’d want my sword to bend or break! Pattern welding is a technique (which I describe in detail in Book 1 in my series) where you take different pieces of iron and essentially twist them together when you make the sword. It’s likely some pieces of iron will be weak but others will be strong, and you’ll end up with a weapon that’s strong but also flexible, which is exactly what you want.

So the dragonslayer’s sword could be a real weapon. I combined the design of a German long sword with the sword-making technique of pattern welding. In my fantasy world, it’s what some characters call a “dragonish sword,” but the details about it come from our world.

During this blog tour I’m telling lots of stories about the research I’ve done for my Dragonslayer series. You can find out where I’ve been and where I’m going next by checking my website (http://www.resanelson.com), my Facebook page (Resa Nelson & The Dragonslayer’s Sword), or following me on Twitter (ResaNelson).

If you’d like to sample my work for free, you can download a free “mini” ebook called “Dragonslayer Stories” from my website at http://www.resanelson.com/files. No cost, no obligation, nothing to sign up for, no information gathering. I like giving away samples of my work so you can decide for yourself whether you like it or not. If you do, you can enter to win a copy of the first two books in my series, which I’ll give away at the end of this tour on Feb. 14. To enter, just send email to ResaBonusGifts@aol.com. (I won’t keep your email address – this just makes it easier for me to keep track of entries.) I’m also doing a book giveaway on GoodReads, so you can enter to win at http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/19270-the-dragonslayer-s-sword.


Giveaway Details:

The giveaway on Goodreads is for residents of the US only. Don't worry if you're not a US resident though, you can win a copy of the books if you send an email to the address above (ResaBonusGifts@aol.com).


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Thank you for stopping by, Resa!


About Resa Nelson



Resa Nelson has been selling fiction professionally since 1988. She is a longtime member of SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) and is a graduate of the Clarion SF Workshop.

Resa was also the TV/Movie Columnist for Realms of Fantasy magazine for 13 years and was a contributor to SCI FI magazine. She has sold over 200 articles to magazines in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Her first novel, The Dragonslayer’s Sword, was nominated for the Nebula Award, the highest honor in science fiction and fantasy. It was also a Finalist for the EPPIE Award. This medieval fantasy novel is based on a short story first published in the premiere issue of Science Fiction Age magazine and ranked 2nd in that magazine's first Readers Top Ten Poll. The Dragonslayer's Sword is Book 1 in a 4-book series. Book 2, The Iron Maiden, was recently published. Book 3 is scheduled for publication in Summer 2012.
Resa's standalone novel, Our Lady of the Absolute, is a fantasy/mystery/thriller about a modern-day society based on ancient Egypt. Midwest Book Review gave this book a 5-star review, calling it "a riveting fantasy, very highly recommended."
In real life, Resa is a fan of chocolate, travel, summer, museums, ballet, movies, and Broadway musicals (her favorites are Les Miserables and Wicked). She lives in Massachusetts.



About the books:

The Dragonslayer's Sword




The Dragonslayer's SwordFor Astrid, a blacksmith who makes swords for dragonslayers, the emergence of a strange gemstone from her body sets in motion a chain of events that threaten to destroy her life. Her happiness is shattered when her lover-the dragonslayer-disappears without a trace, and the life that she knows and loves implodes without warning. Astrid lives in a world of shapeshifters whose thoughts have the power to change not only themselves but others. Everything Astrid knows to be true is called into question when she learns the truth about her past and the mysterious family from which she was separated as a child. Reality turns inside out as Astrid gradually learns the truth about the people she loves as well as those she disdains. With the fate of dragons, ghosts, and slaves in foreign lands resting on her shoulders, Astrid faces the challenge of deciding who she is and how she will stand up inside her own skin. Will she withdraw and hide from the world that has disappointed her so much...or will she rise to lead others to freedom and peace?




The Iron Maiden

For Astrid, a blacksmith who makes swords for dragonslayers, the emergence of a strange gemstone from her body sets in motion a chain of events that threaten to destroy her life. Her happiness is shattered when her lover-the dragonslayer-disappears without a trace, and the life that she knows and loves implodes without warning. Astrid lives in a world of shapeshifters whose thoughts have the power to change not only themselves but others. Everything Astrid knows to be true is called into question when she learns the truth about her past and the mysterious family from which she was separated as a child. Reality turns inside out as Astrid gradually learns the truth about the people she loves as well as those she disdains. With the fate of dragons, ghosts, and slaves in foreign lands resting on her shoulders, Astrid faces the challenge of deciding who she is and how she will stand up inside her own skin. Will she withdraw and hide from the world that has disappointed her so much...or will she rise to lead others to freedom and peace?

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