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Christina Courtenay - Inspiration for the Scarlet Kimono

As I've mentioned, I had the good fortune to live in Japan for a few years and this proved to be great inspiration for my writing. I found everything about this country intriguing and started to read about its culture and history. I was especially interested in Japan's reaction to the foreign traders and missionaries that arrived in the 16th and 17th centuries, but disappointed to find that they were all men.

It started me thinking though - what if a European woman had gone there? What would have been the reaction of the Japanese to a pretty female foreigner? Perhaps they would have viewed her differently to the somewhat coarse men who had come to their shores. And then I tried to imagine what it would be like for a young 17th century English girl to arrive in a country that was so completely different to anything she was used to. If she should happen to meet a powerful and handsome Japanese samurai warlord, how could she do anything other than fall in love? And so the heroine of The Scarlet Kimono, Hannah Marston, was born.

The hero of the book, Taro Kumashiro, was based on the legendary Japanese sumo wrestler Yokozuna (champion) Chiyonofuji (aka. The Wolf). This may seem like a strange choice, but I had the pleasure of meeting him once and his smile could melt any girl's heart. Check out the photo below and see what you think! (And do please let me know if you agree with me.) For more information on Chiyonofuji, click here.