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 , it soon moves to .
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 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 www.amazon.com . For more details see http://www.choc-lit.com/html/the_scarlet_kimono.htmlor www.christinacourtenay.com
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.
-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.