The next time you are bored and looking for something new to try, go to a Renaissance Faire!
I’d always been curious about Ren Faires and when Kensington signed me on for the Bianca Goddard Mysteries set in Tudor England, a fellow writer friend advised, “Go to where your readers are.” So I stitched a pair of make-shift hose, a poofy shirt, and a flatcap for my husband (who balked at first, but now is a convert), and I sewed a kirtle and learned to wrap my hair in a linen headscarf.
Where else can you chew on a roasted turkey leg, watch a joust, hear the lilt of a dulcimer, and watch a guy dressed like a satyr dance the Pavane with a Queen? If you’ve never been to a Renaissance Faire you may be missing out on an absurdly good time.
Usually for one weekend (although some Faires run for a month or more), devotees descend on a patch of farmland, dress in period garb, and revel in times of yore. The fairs loosely mimic 16th Century England, the Tudor and Elizabethan era, but you’ll see damsels in Medieval dress with cone hats sprouting wafts of chiffon. You’ll also see plenty of pirates and fairy wings, woodland creatures, steampunk fans, and women in jeans wearing corsets. The best fairs are the ones where the attendees (or patrons) dress however they want and participate in the ambiance. You are free to take on a persona and tell people the most outrageous tales in your most outrageous accent and no one bats an eye.
There are skits and songs performed by either troupes who frequent the circuit, or by drama students who want to practice their English accents. The music is especially good, often played on period instruments. Craftsmen and hobbyists practice forgotten arts like painstakingly creating chain mail, link by link, or weaving fingerloop braids. Everyone shares their particular enthusiasm and you may walk away with a new interest.
Children particularly love Renaissance Faires. They can prance around a maypole wrapping their ribbon streamers, get their faces painted to look like fairies, watch 16th Century German swordsmanship (I mean, what kid doesn’t love that?), and chase after 7 foot tall ogres.
The first time I set up a booth to sell my books, I didn’t know what to expect. Weather factors in, but there are plenty of diehards who don’t let fifty degree temperatures and rain deter them. Besides it gives them a chance to wear those incredible ankle length wool capes with hoods they bought. People, from the fair organizers, to fellow vendors and entertainers band together to support one another and help make the event a success. I’ve met wonderful people and have had terrific conversations not only with readers, but with Vikings, pirates, time travelers, and Goths. There is no shortage of interesting people.
Sure, Ren Faires are full of anachronisms but to see hundreds of enthusiasts have a merry ol’ time is infectious. Go ahead and check one out, I’m certain you’ll find something that amuses you.
In the mid sixteenth century, Henry VIII sits on the throne, and Bianca Goddard tends to the sick and suffering in London’s slums, where disease can take a life as quickly as murder. . .For years, alchemist Ferris Stannum has devoted himself to developing the Elixir of Life, the reputed serum of immortality. Having tested his remedy successfully on an animal, Stannum intends to send his alchemy journal to a colleague in Cairo for confirmation. Instead he is strangled in his bed and his journal is stolen.
As the daughter of an alchemist herself, Bianca is well acquainted with the mystical healing arts. As her husband, John, falls ill with the sweating sickness, she dares to hope Stannum’s journal could contain the secret to his recovery. But first she must solve the alchemist’s murder. As she ventures into a world of treachery and deceit, Stannum’s death proves to be only the first in a series of murders–and Bianca’s quest becomes a matter of life and death, not only for her husband, but for herself. . .
Praise for The Alchemist’s Daughter
“A realistic evocation of 16th century London’s underside. The various strands of the plot are so skillfully plaited together.”–Fiona Buckley
“Mystery and Tudor fans alike will raise a glass to this new series.” –Karen Harper