Friday, December 12, 2008


Jeri Westerson is the debut author of a new medieval mystery series that has a decidedly darker bent than traditional medieval mysteries. Veil of Lies; A Medieval Noir from St. Martin's Minotaur, features a hard-boiled protagonist, a disgraced knight turned detective on the mean streets of 14th century London. Veil of Lies is in bookstores everywhere, and you can read more about it as well as Crispin Guest, her hard-boiled hero, at Jeri's website

I started out life as a graphic artist. I was drawn to it (so to speak) through calligraphy and then typefaces and my fascination with them, how to use them and how to create them. In those days, we didn't have computers. We had ruling pens, crowquill nibs, and Rapidographs. And so my fascination with pens in general began.

I have a collection of silly pens—pens that are shaped like things—and those wonderfully kitschy floating action pens—souvenir pens with a little diorama inside with something that floats by. But these are the bastard children, the waifs of the streets as compared to my true love, the mighty fountain pen.

Introduced in 1881, the fountain pen became the staple of student and clerk alike. There is nothing like free-flowing ink through an elegant nib to give a wonderful line on a page. If you get a calligraphy nib, then you can make wonderfully sculpted lines—the thin and the thick—rolling off your fingers. Nowadays, you have your choice of ink filling: dipping the pen, sucking it up with a lever, or using an easy cartridge. A pen is a wonderful gift for the bibliophile or the writer in your life. There are still those who prefer paper and pen over bits and bytes in an email.

Being an author who pens medieval mysteries, you might think that I'd prefer a quill, and though I do own some, I just like the heft and the wonderful feel of writing with a fountain pen.

There are many brands to choose from, but if I were to choose a pen as a gift (for me, perhaps?) and without choosing the most expensive in the world, I'd go with a nice traditional tortoise shell style. My pen of choice is the True Writer (don't you love the name?) and has a 22K gold-plated nib and gold-plated details. Ah, what a wonderfully, sensual experience writing with a pen like this! Yes, we email a lot, but a thank you note or a lovely letter or even a signed copy of one's book is all the better for using such an amazing instrument.

It comes in at $88 so it's obviously not something you'd throw in the bottom of your purse, and I'd certainly shy from loaning it to anyone even to write down a quick phone number for fear I wouldn't get it back. No, this is a special pen for a special purpose. And you can obtain one online at my favorite writer's toy store, Levenger's, home of the Page Points—little wonderful metal place holders for the discriminating researcher.


Darlene Ryan said...

Jeri, that pen is beautiful. I think even my messy hand-writing would look good written with that.

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