Friday, March 27, 2009

Fear of Sewing

Jeri Westerson grew up on the mean streets of Los Angeles and so always had a thing for noir. She also always had a thing for the Middle Ages. Her debut novel Veil of Lies; A Medieval Noir combines both loves. Read an excerpt at

It’s not something I generally do. I mean, I’m pretty comfortable playing with my sharps, my daggers and sword. But facing a sewing machine is a bit scary.

Yeah, I’m all wrong as a girl. I always like playing the boys’ games rather than the girlie stuff. I’m glad to see it’s finally paying off with my novels. VEIL OF LIES is my debut medieval mystery with a protagonist who is all man. Crispin Guest is a disgraced knight eking out a living on the mean streets of 14th century London as a private detective. His life on the Shambles, the butcher’s district, is less than desirable, but because he committed treason against the newly enthroned King Richard II, he was hardly in a position to argue. His life was spared but his knighthood, lands, and place in the world were banished. Gone is the courtly life he was used to. And now he must live amongst people he would scarcely have given the time of day let alone live with.
And so I get to use my knowledge of weapons and other manly pursuits while filling out the backstory of Crispin’s life. It’s a lot of fun, as you can imagine.

But as far as promoting the book, I have to get a little more down to earth. Those who like medieval mysteries are very keen on their history. And I thought I might have to make a few appearances at Society of Creative Anachronism events (you know, those re-enactors who do battles and jousts and Renaissance fair-type gatherings?) That’s where the sewing machine comes in.

I’ve made the occasional Halloween costume for my son (though my motto has always been, “If I don’t glue it, I don’t do it.”), but here I was going to create an actual 14th century gown for myself, complete with head piece. Was I nuts? Firstly, I never remember how to wind the bobbin, and no matter how gentle I am with the foot pedal, it always runs away from me. The seams bunch up, I get the wrong thread in the wrong place, and what the heck is “facing” anyway?

But I managed. I found the right pattern and didn’t even have to worry about a hidden zipper (uh, no thanks!) as I made it big enough to slip over my head.

And after all that preparation, I’ve worn it exactly...once. Camping. Doing a medieval feast for my friends. And wore it for a total of ten minutes as it was hotter than blazes were we were. I’m not the type to show up at a book signing wearing a costume. I just don’t. So I imagine that one of these days, I will don the thing again and make a proper appearance. I suppose.

In the meantime, I’d love to show you my collection of medieval weaponry. I have a story or two about my daggers and sword. And yes, you can try on my helm. But don’t swing the flail. You can put an eye out.

Jeri Westerson

If you’d like to see a few of those articles on weapons, slide on over to my blog or peek in at my website for the first chapter of VEIL OF LIES by going to

1 comment:

  1. What a fun post! I used to sew a long time ago but gave that up about the same time I gave up ironing.

    Can't imagine having to wear a costume for a signing. The closest I've come to that is wearing a vest made out of material with all kind of sayings like: Innocent, Guilty, Cop, Bad Guy--it's really cute, but most people don't bother to read it.

    a.k.a. F. M. Meredith