That Corset by Kathe Koja
People—readers—always like to know about the research that goes into a novel, and especially, I’m finding, a historical novel. Gaslight, weevils, laudanum—the appetite is brisk for details, which makes perfect sense, as one of the reasons we read of another time is to experience it for ourselves. Throw some puppets into the mix, rude and bawdy and (somewhat-) anatomically correct puppets, and the questions become more saucy, but the main one usually boils down to “ARE there such creatures in what we like to call the real world?” Well, given the human race’s ingenuity and reputation for making everything into a sex toy (cf the Internet), the answer would have to be Yes. For one of the odder examples I found, check this out.
People also want to know if they talked that way back then, and did they ever. Even backer then, they talked even worse; I direct you to the poetry
But far and away, what people like to ask about is The Corset. One of the great perks of research, besides learning cool stuff, is getting to mess
around with stuff you already think is cool; and I did indeed think corsets were cool, though I didn’t know how wonderful they can also be, or at least the one I tried was wonderful, and that was just the in-shop, non-bespoke corset…. Not only does a corset bestow upon one the posture of an old-guard grenadier, which just naturally realigns all the parts, it also changed the way I moved, sat, not only held but considered myself, which is a much subtler kind of alignment, and one I found I had a taste for. A top hat might have provided some of the same frisson (I do have a bowler), but would people have asked me about putting on a hat? My only regret is that no pictures were taken.