I am delighted to have Award Winning ChocLit author, Christina Courtenay with me today. I’ve always loved Christina’s books and her latest The Gilded Fan was no exception. I asked Christina if she could talk about the Far East influence.
The Gilded Fan is the sequel to my novel The Scarlet Kimono (although it can be read as a stand-alone), and both these stories were inspired by the Far East in general and Japan in particular. It’s a fascinating part of the world and whenever I’m lucky enough to go there, I fall in love with it all over again.
I can’t really explain why I like it so much and it wasn’t something that happened overnight. In fact, the first time I went to Japan I cried for days because I didn’t want to be there! That may sound crazy, but if you consider that I was a teenager at the time (just turned sixteen) and had left behind my very first serious boyfriend in order to move with my family halfway across the world, it might be more understandable. As it happened, I soon forgot all about him. The three years I lived in Tokyo turned out to be the best of my life!
Looking back, I think the Japanese culture slowly seeped into me and I began to appreciate all the great things about it. Most of all, it’s a beautiful place steeped in history – not the skyscrapers perhaps, but the little traditional buildings squeezed in between them, the parks, the temples and the shops and markets. Even food is always displayed in an attractive way, tempting you to eat far too much!
So this then is the country in which the heroine of The Gilded Fan, Midori, has grown up. Imagine her feelings when she has to leave it behind and travel back to Europe (my journey in reverse, you might say). It’s not something she wants to do, but she has no choice – it’s either leave Japan or die. I totally empathised with her as I didn’t have much choice either, but I didn’t have to travel alone! It’s lucky for Midori that she’s a lot more stoical than I was and that she meets a sea captain willing to protect her …
One thing this story doesn’t have is a dog – my characters usually always have one as I love them myself, but for this particular story it wasn’t practicable for various reasons. We, on the other hand, were crazy enough to bring our dog along when we moved to Japan. A big rough collie, he looked so much like Lassie that whenever we walked him we were stopped by people thinking he was the canine movie star. He took it all in his stride (he probably thought he deserved all the adulation) and didn’t mind being called Lassie. And I never let on either, as my grasp of the Japanese language wasn’t up to it. So there may be people over there who think they’ve met an icon, who knows? 🙂
Many thanks for having me as your guest, Sue!
How do you start a new life, leaving behind all you love?
It’s 1641, and when Midori Kumashiro, the orphaned daughter of a warlord, is told she has to leave Japan or die, she has no choice but to flee to England. Midori is trained in the arts of war, but is that enough to help her survive a journey, with a lecherous crew and an attractive captain she doesn’t trust?
Having come to Nagasaki to trade, the last thing Captain Nico Noordholt wants is a female passenger, especially a beautiful one. How can he protect her from his crew when he can’t keep his own eyes off her?
During their journey, Nico and Midori form a tentative bond, but they both have secrets that can change everything. When they arrive in England, a civil war is brewing, and only by standing together can they hope to survive…
Links for Christina Courtenay
Facebook : christina.courtenay.9
Twitter : @PiaCCourtenay