Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Where Ideas Come From: Blunderbuss

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If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, or if you follow my other blog, or are on my Patreon, you know that I usually have a lot of projects going at the same time.
Writing, translating, courses.
My timetable is in a constant state of flux, and projects get announced, started, sidetracked, shelved, rebooted, cancelled1, dropped, picked up, dropped again, etcetera.

The main reason for this is, bills keep coming, and with them the financial ghosts my late father left behind, that appear in the mailbox once every few months, unexpectedly, and set us back a few hundred euros for overdue taxes, unpaid fines or what.
So, paying projects are priority.
Always.
And projects that do not pay for their keep get shelved.
Which means of course that sometimes I have to leave behind ideas that I really like to do some thankless job that covers expenses like, right now.
This is not complaining, or whining or cursing Fate during a thunderstorm like Elric used to do. It is a simple assessment of the facts at the time of writing.

protect-business-idea-without-patent

This said, ideas keep coming, and I like to post them on the blog because it’s a nice way to stake a claim, and also a way to pressure me into doing something with the stuff.
And who knows, maybe someone’s interested.
After all, How do you get your ideas is still the most frequent question we get asked.
So, consider, if you will, the following.

51pEV3IolYL._SX296_BO1,204,203,200_As I mentioned in a previous post, in my time off I am reading the “Robert Kirk” series of ‘70s sword & sorcery Raven, Swordmistress of Chaos.
The first book was fun enough for me to get the two sequels in their French edition. Because this way it will last longer, and I’ll also improve my French.

Now I was mentioning this on a Facebook group a few hours ago, and a friend noted that Chaos is more a thing about blunderbusses than swords.
And indeed, Blunderbussmistress of Chaos is something that might find its niche with the sword & sorcery reading public.
You can see where this is going…

So while I was having breakfast, this morning, I did some Wikipedia reading2.
And this idea started taking shape.
A warrior woman using firearms in a Renaissance setting. A big girl that “doesn’t care” for swords3, roaming the landscape of a Thirty Years War-like land, and basically heralding radical change.
It has potential.

ottoman-turkish-flintlock-blunderbuss-c-1800-800x224

Now, the problem is Blunderbussmistress is a bit of a mouthful. I can’t pronounce it in a single take myself.
So, what with the fact that I am reading in French and all that, I checked French blunderbusses, and the French for blunderbuss is tromblon (that is really unsuitable for a lady) or the much more promising espignole.

But then Wikipedia tells me that…

Le tromblon fut utilisé au xviie siècle, et est l’arme la plus généralement représentée comme étant l’arme des pèlerins.

As to say…

The blunderbuss was used in the seventeenth century, and is the weapon most commonly portrayed as the weapon of pilgrims.

Pilgrims… pèlerins… what about calling my character La Pèlerine4?
The Pilgrim.
Sounds good, doesn’t it5?
La Pèlerine, Gunmistress of…
Hmm, of what?
Of Chaos?
Of Topsy-Turvydom?
Of Mayhem?

I’ll have to think about that.

57b17aa26b460371dcb716b403fbeb7f

But I really really think this thing has got potential. I want to write this, just as I want to write a lot of other ideas.
But right now, I’ve to prepare a report for a writer that commissioned me an overview of Wicca, of all things, for a project of his. The report’s been paid already, so La Pèlerine will have to wait.
I sort of feel like she’s not the kind of girl that likes being kept waiting.
I’ll keep you (and her) posted.


  1. nothing is ever really cancelled. I keep (or try to keep) copies of everything because today’s dud story might be tomorrow’s paying sale. 
  2. yes, I know, having breakfast at the PC is bad. But afterwards I took a two-mile stroll, so I guess I am good. 
  3. which of course does not mean she can’t use one, in a pinch. 
  4. incidentally, “La Pellerina” is a place in Turin, where I grew up. The name is obviously derived from the French. There’s a park there, where I first saw Manhattan Transfer live. But I digress… 
  5. and yes, this opens a huge worldbuilding can of words, as to say if this is a secondary world, how come they speak French? but really, who cares right now? 

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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