Monday, August 1, 2011

International Giveaway & Guest Blog by Christina Courtenay Author of "The Scarlet Kimono"

How Did You Get Hooked on Historicals? By Christina Courtenay

Someone asked me recently which was the first historical novel I ever read and why it made me a fan of this genre.  That was a really difficult question to answer, because I wasn’t sure exactly how to define “historical novel” for this purpose.  As a child, I read things like the Odyssey, which is sort of historical, and also the Norse sagas (I'm half Swedish and grew up in Scandinavia).  These were more myths and legends, however, so I ended up replying that the book which made me a life-long lover of historical fiction was The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas.

I can’t quite remember how old I was when I read it, but the swash-buckling, the beautiful clothes, the “milady’s” and the gallantry all stuck in my mind and I was hooked.  I wanted to read more about the dashing D’Artagnan (and the darkly attractive Athos) and times gone by.  From then on, I tried to find more novels set in the past and once I’d discovered Georgette Heyer there was definitely no turning back.

I’m not too bothered about which era the books I read are set in, although of course I have favourites – Vikings, Saxons, the Regency and the English Civil War are some of them.  However, I get bored easily so I like to vary my reading.  The same goes for my own writing – I don’t stick to just one time frame, I choose a different one for each book (or series of books) and often different locations too.  My current novel, The Scarlet Kimono, is set at the beginning of the 1600s and although the action starts off in England, it soon moves to Japan.

What I set out to write was a sort of female version of James Clavell’s The Shogun.  His hero is an Englishman who ends up in Japan and becomes the trusted adviser of the Shogun (the ruler of the country).  It was based on a true story and an Englishman called Will Adams who really did go there at that time.  There were other foreigners who went to the Far East as well, of course, but when I started to read up on the subject I realized that none of them were women.

It’s pretty obvious why not, since women weren’t really allowed to have any fun in those days and were just supposed to stay at home and have babies and so on.  Anyway, I couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened if a woman had gone to the Far East back then? I decided I wanted to write about a heroine who would rebel against the dictates of the time, a girl who wanted adventures, just like her brothers.  And so Hannah Marston was born.

Hannah stows away on what she thinks is her brother’s merchant ship, but unfortunately she gets on the wrong one.  In order to survive, she has to pretend to be a boy and work in the cook room.  Her powers of endurance are stretched to their limit, but eventually she reaches Japan and all her suffering seems worthwhile. That is, until she is abducted by a warlord called Taro Kumashiro.  He has been waiting to see the girl he’s been warned about by a seer. When at last they meet, it’s a clash of cultures and wills, but they’re also fighting an instant attraction to each other.  With her brother desperate to find her and a jealous rival equally desperate to kill her, Hannah faces the greatest adventure of her life. And Kumashiro has to choose between love and honour …

I had a lot of fun writing this and it helped that I lived in Japan myself for a few years during my teens (I’ve been a huge fan of all things Oriental ever since).  It’s a fascinating country – so very different to ours, but at the same time not, if that makes sense?  The Japanese people manage to blend the modern and traditional in all things in the most amazing way and I never tire of going back there.  If you’ve never been and you get the chance, it’s well worth a visit!

So back to the original question – what was the first novel you read that made you a fan of historical fiction?  I’d love to know! 

Thank you so much for having me as your guest!

The Scarlet Kimono was published by Choc Lit on 1st March, (ISBN 978-1-906931-29-2).  It is available on .  For more details see

Book Synopsis: 

 Abducted by a warlord in 17th century Japan – what happens when fear turns to love?

England, 1611, and young Hannah Marston envies her brother’s adventurous life. But when she stows away on his merchant ship, her powers of endurance are stretched to their limit. Then they reach Japan and all her suffering seems worthwhile – until she is abducted by Taro Kumashiro’s warriors.
In the far north of the country, samurai warlord Kumashiro is intrigued to learn more about the girl who he has been warned about by a seer. There’s a clash of cultures and wills, but they’re also fighting an instant attraction to each other.
With her brother desperate to find her and the jealous Lady Reiko equally desperate to kill her, Hannah faces the greatest adventure of her life. And Kumashiro has to choose between love and honour…

Christina has kindly offered up a signed copy of her latest novel The Scarlet Kimono. This giveaway is open to everyone! It ends August 12th at 12:00 a.m.

Giveaway Guidelines: 
-You must be a Follower of this blog through the GFC follower in order to be entered into this giveaway.
-Please leave your name and email address in order for me to contact you if you are the winner. If an email is not listed then unfortunately you will not be entered.
+1 extra entry for being a new follower of this blog. 
+1 extra entry each time you post this giveaway on twitter, facebook and/or on your blog somewhere. To count please leave a link in the comment section.


  1. Ooh, I really, really want to read this! Thank you for sharing!

    Old follower. :)!/LiederMadchen/status/98298276306092032


  2. This sounds like a great book!
    Just became a follower of your blog, which is great by the way :)


  3. I would have to say the first novel would have been Gone With The Wind and the Odyssey and the Iliad were among a few.
    I am a follower and posted on twitter and facebook.

    Thanks for the giveaway!


  4. Thanks for the guest post and giveaway! Looks like quite an interesting book.

    susanna DOT pyatt AT student DOT rcsnc DOT org

  5. I'm not sure I have a book that made me love historical fiction because I have always enjoyed it. I love history and it was natural to like all things historical, books epsecially. I really like the details and descriptions most of all.

    This sounds like a wonderful book.

    GFC follower

  6. Thanks everyone, glad you enjoyed the post! I read 'Gone With the Wind' quite early on too, but didn't like the ending because I much prefer HEA's :) Great book though. Mind you, I don't think 'The Three Musketeers' had a totally HEA - that's only in the films, isn't it?

  7. I must admit The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory really paved the way for my historical fiction obsession! After I delved into Tudor history more I soon realized how twisted and wrong Gregory's facts were in the book, which intrigued me more. I wanted to read everything related to the Tudors in order to get all the facts straight and so my obsession was born!

    Thanks so much Christina for this intriguing post!

  8. The Pillars of the Earth started my love affair with historical fiction way back when I was a teenager.

    Thanks for the contest.


  9. I have been a follower for a year. I loved Shogun and I want to read another story og feudal Japan--totally fascinating!

    I will tweet this and FB it


  10. I remember how in awe I was of Shogun. Would love to read another book set in this time.

    I follow on GFC-Lisa Richards!/alterlisa/status/98997178307059712

    alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com

  11. Would love to read this exciting book. There would be so much cultural contrasts and I am really interested in Japanese history. Please enter me in this contest.

    I am a GFC follower of your blog.

    I posted this giveaway on my Profile page of Facebook:!/profile.php?id=1802916392

    I also shared it on Twitter:



  12. Wow, this sounds great! Please include me in the giveaway. I am a GFC follower (Colleen Turner).

  13. Thank you again for all the lovely comments everyone and thanks Taylor for letting me be your guest!

    The Tudors are definitely fascinating and there are so many other great periods to read about too. I love discovering new ones!

  14. What made me love historical fiction... well, I can't really remember. My mother has always been reading historical romances, and I've read them after she finished them, but to me they were all the same and not very original, only light reading. So I decided to try out another branch of historical, namely historical fiction. I can't really remember which was the first one I read, but The Other Boleyn Girl was one of the first ones I picked up...

    GFC-follower: Malena of Royal Women

  15. Please enter me in the draw!

    I'm following on GFC (Darlene), and my email address is darlenesbooknook at gmail dot com.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  16. +1 for tweeting:!/DarleneBookNook/status/99851708015980544

    darlenesbooknook at gmail dot com

  17. +1 for sharing on Facebook:

    darlenesbooknook at gmail dot com

  18. I adore historical fiction...

    An English girl and a Japanese samurai. 17th century? Whoa...WOW.

    Count me in!

    GFC follower: ZoeRainDasherBenji
    Email: therainhouse17(at)gmail(dot)com

  19. Hello I have just become a GFC follower under name Ceri Kay. My first foray into historical fiction was The Other Boleyn Girl. My email is cerievans1[at]gmail[dot]com. Thanks

  20. Never read historical fiction before..but would love too
    follower-Tasha Shahirah

  21. I'm a new follower.


    Shared on FB:


    annabell_lee_dk (at)

  22. I love it when East meets West! I'm a new follower, thanks for the lovely giveaway.

  23. gfc follower as jhb. As a 3rd gen J-American, I love all things Japanese related. I was obsessed with Shogun when it came out on tv.
    jhbalvin at gmail dot com

  24. GFC follower (Dovile)

    spamscape [at] gmail [dot] com

  25. +1 new GFC follower (Dovile)

    spamscape [at] gmail [dot] com

  26. THE SCARLET KIMONO looks wonderful. Yes please!!

    + 1 New Follower GFC: Mary Preston