• Scot Hanson

Interview with a Sword Master - Reprise

You might be surprised to hear there's a living, breathing sword master out there.

He's a scholar who studies Renaissance texts from the celebrities who taught the aristocrats how to survive a duel. He's a teacher himself, although he has retired from the sword-school he helped establish and now presents himself as a "consulting" swordsman. And he is an excellent conversationalist - the 60 minutes of discussion we recorded includes several noteworthy stories, which is only the tip of the iceberg. (He confessed right out that during the interview he wasn't nearly drunk enough to get into some of the more notorious details and experiences.)

Watch the interview

I first heard about Guy Windsor via the great networking tool we call Amazon Books. In my stories, I love trying to depict the tension and dynamics of sword fighting, but I also want to get things right. So I searched the digital book listing for things that might expand my education beyond 2 semesters of fencing in college, several weekends running around the BYU-Idaho campus with boffer swords, and a standard U.S. apprenticeship with Star Wars and The Princess Bride.

Amazon showed me several texts written in Medieval times and European languages, as well as some that were in English. The name 'Guy Windsor' kept popping up. I looked into the work he'd done and was really impressed by his efforts to figure out what the people who actually carried swords around town understood about swords.

I first reached out to Guy when I was finishing my second novel manuscript. It includes a scene where a ghost who knows and loves swords tells a modern, teenage punk about a sword. The emotional feeling came through fairly well, I think. Then I started worrying that someone who actually knows swords might read it and realize that I was just making stuff up. (Full disclosure: In my stories, I'm usually just making stuff up.)

I didn't expect to get sued or anything, of course. The larger concern was that someone might be reading along, enjoying how the punk teenager finds a magical sword, and then runs into a paragraph that is so inaccurate that it short-circuits the suspension of disbelief. The info-turbulence can shake a reader right out of the narrative trance. It's happened to me before. And I don't like it.

So I emailed Guy and asked if he would read through that passage to point out any problems or serious discrepancies with reality. (You're right — the whole premise of a ghost bestowing a magical sword is a somewhat divorced from reality, but you know what I mean.) Guy agreed to help out, then he read over that section of the chapter and gave some very useful feedback. (Note: If you're interested, I can post the excerpt here a little later and you can enjoy it too.)

After that experience, you might think that Guy would be once-bitten, twice-shy; however, when I contacted him about sending some questions, he surprised me by riposting with a suggestion to do the interview live and record it. So now, after something of a rough learning curve for trans-Atlantic teleconference recording, video editing, and YouTube uploading, the project is done. I hope you enjoy it.

Watch the interview

And if you'd be interested in reading the sample chapter, please leave a comment or else subscribe below so I can notify you when the chapter is posted. Thanks!

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