Going Viral

After I got my kids off to school on the morning of January 31, I knew I really SHOULD be working, but instead I guiltily took half an hour to post a silly Twitter thread I’d been wanting to do for a while on swordfighting in ballgowns, using Disney princess dresses as examples. (Look, what can I say, I think about these things a lot.) I fired it off and went back to work, hoping it would amuse the, like, I don’t know, six people who also think swordfighting in ballgowns is awesome and badass and might like to know more about it, presumably for writerly reasons.

I learned something that day.

I learned that the internet is not just a labyrinth of evil trolls. It is also an awesome place full of excellent people who totally get how awesome fighting in ballgowns is (or at least who find my babbling about it to be amusingly weird, and hey, Disney princess gifs).

The thread went viral. My notifications lit up. Tor.com posted a cool article about it comparing my observations to corresponding ones made in a really neat post by Marie Brennan about doing karate in a Victorian gown (we both agree, it’s the sleeves that get you). I woke up the next morning to find my thread was an official Twitter Moment in several countries. And it only got bigger from there.

An editor from The Mary Sue contacted me asking if they could do this piece on the thread. (I said yes, and was super excited.) Then my sister-in-law linked me to this Daily Mail article about it, which I laughed uncontrollably about for like a day. Somehow, they found a picture of me in costume on some dark corner of the internet and posted that as the lead photo…and after performing this impressive feat of investigative journalism, they got my book title and state of residence wrong (they at least fixed the book title later). OH HEY GO AHEAD AND BLOW MY COVER AND REVEAL ME AS AN EVIL FAIRY QUEEN, DAILY MAIL, IT’S OKAY BECAUSE ALL THE HEROES SEEKING TO VANQUISH ME WILL GO TO MICHIGAN.

Having that tweet thread go viral was way more fun than I could ever have expected, and I loved some of the replies and quote-tweet comments so much. A really fascinating range of awesome people talked about how this corresponded with their experience in doing everything from stage fighting to martial arts to actual ballroom dancing (which, surprise surprise, also requires a certain range of movement) in gowns. Several dads posted about sharing this knowledge with their daughters so that they could kick butt in fancy dresses (cue my melting heart). People with greater historical knowledge than I chimed in with really cool and interesting information, anecdotes, and links to relevant articles. Everyone just seemed so excited and into it, and the comments were amazing.

I also had to giggle a bit whenever someone quote-tweeted saying something like “Wow, look at all the scholarship and research that went into this thread!” YES. SO MUCH SERIOUS RESEARCH. I AM NOT JUST A NERD WHO HAS ACCUMULATED YEARS OF PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE AS A SIDE EFFECT OF MY SUPER GEEKY HOBBIES. I DID IT ALL FOR SCIENCE.

Maybe the best part, though, was seeing creative people from writers to video game artists talk about how they were going to use this information to add more badass ladies fighting in dresses to their work. Needless to say, I am totally here for this.

As I said to my husband when the thread was in full viral swing: So, I guess my brand is swordfighting in ballgowns now.

You know what? I am very much okay with that.

Published by Melissa Caruso

Fantasy author of the Swords & Fire trilogy: THE TETHERED MAGE (Orbit, 2017), THE DEFIANT HEIR (Orbit, 2018), and THE UNBOUND EMPIRE (Orbit, 2019), as well as the Rooks and Ruin trilogy, beginning with THE OBSIDIAN TOWER (Orbit, 2020). Melissa's debut, THE TETHERED MAGE, was shortlisted for the Gemmell Morningstar Award in 2017. Melissa loves tea, adventure, and the great outdoors, and has been known to swordfight in ballgowns. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, two superlative daughters, and assorted pets. Represented by Naomi Davis of BookEnds.

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