Friday 25 February 2011

Christina Courtenay & The Scarlet Kimono

Hi Debs, thank you so much for letting me visit you in your lovely shed! It’s great to be here and I’ve been wanting to meet “Grumpy” for ages as I’m a huge dog fan.
I also like the sound of your garden and since you live in Jersey, I’m guessing that spring comes earlier to you than on the mainland? It can’t come fast enough for me! Don’t get me wrong, I love winter and especially the months before Christmas. I don’t mind it getting darker then as it gives that cozy feeling of wanting to curl up in front of the fire with a good book and some chocolates (although I get that all year round, come to think of it, apart from the fire bit). But then January arrives and all the festivities are over and suddenly every day seems dull, grey and cold. That’s when I start longing for spring.

Now I’m really here to talk about my new novel The Scarlet Kimono, which is coming out soon, but since it’s set in Japan, that made me think of spring as well. Nowhere in the world is this season more noticeable than in Tokyo, I think, as the cherry blossom begins to unfurl on the trees all across the city. Normally, it’s a teeming, mostly modern, metropolis with lots of high-rise buildings interspersed with more traditional ones. And like every other big city, it’s very busy with lots of traffic and enormous crowds. But come blossom time, it is totally transformed

Suddenly, you begin to notice how beautiful the streets are, lined with sakura – cherry-blossom – or ume – the slightly different flowers of the plum trees. Once the first blooms have erupted, they begin to fall (all too soon!), but that in itself creates an even prettier picture as they float slowly to the ground and are carried around by the breeze. Eventually they end up like little snow drifts of pale petals and even those are lovely to look at.

I’ve been lucky enough to visit twice in the last couple of years, and each time we managed to time our holiday there perfectly to coincide with the blossom season (which only lasts a week or two, three if you’re lucky). Now I’m longing to go back again, but I have to be content with writing about it for the moment. Which brings me back to The Scarlet Kimono. Let me give you the blurb:-

Abducted by a Samurai 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, warlord Kumashiro is waiting to see the girl who he has 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 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 …

The Scarlet Kimono is published by Choc Lit on 1st March, ISBN 978-1-906931-29-2

(For more details and an extract, please go to ) If you’d like to win a signed copy of the book, please leave a comment below and tell me what is your favourite season and why? (Debs: I'm half way through this fabulous book. You're immediately transported back to 17th century Japan and even though I've never visited Japan - although Rob tells me it's amazing and loves it - everything in this book is so beautifully depicted that I feel I know it and the characters well).

Thanks again for having me! (Debs: Thanks for visiting and bringing your adorable dog).

(If anyone would like to know more about me, my website and blog are at and I also regularly blog in the Choc Lit Authors’ Corner at )


Janice said...

It's got to be Spring. Scotland's winters are harsh. By the end of February everything here is dreich and dour, but then March arrives and with it snowdrops, the first peek of daffodil tips from under the dead bracken, and my optimism! Janice x

Pat Posner said...

The birds are all choosing their mates so Spring must be on the way.

Lovely photos, Christina, and your book cover is gorgeous!

Tina Brown said...

Spring & early summer is my favourite time of year. Your blog makes me want to jump on a plane for Japan ..... which I will do one day. I love cover of "The Scarlet Kimono" and will start reading it this weekend.

Flowerpot said...

There is a bit of spring blossom out here but not much - can't wait. Lovely pictures Christina and your book sounds wonderful.

Carol said...

Spring must be on it's way.
We have crocus and snowdrops coming out and yesterday I noticed a daffoldil about to bloom.

The cherry blossom is very pretty.

I really enjoyed The Scarlet Kimono.


Chris Stovell said...

I would love to visit Japan, but in the meantime, I'm going to read The Scarlet Kimono which is by me as I write!

Christina Courtenay said...

Thanks, everyone, sounds like spring is definitely the favourite! (And I love the word "dreich", Janice, really sums up the dreariness, doesn't it?)

Thanks also for your kind comments regarding the book!

As for the seasons, I'm kind of torn - autumn is really my favourite, but I do love spring as well. I was taking photos of the crocuses in Hyde Park only yesterday - so pretty!

Kath said...

Beautiful pictures, Christina. Two of my favourite lines from the film, The Last Samurai, are about cherry blossom: "The perfect blossom is a rare thing. You could spend your life looking for one, and it would not be a wasted life" and then later, as Katsumoto watches the blossom fall: "Perfect. They... are all... perfect..." Makes me cry every time.

But here in Wales, my favourite season is Autumn - I love the colours, how there is a slight nip in the air but it's often still sunny and I just love scrunching through leaves!

(I'm reading - and loving - The Scarlet Kimono at the moment, so don't include me in the draw.)

Talli Roland said...

Gorgeous photos - the cherry blossoms are out in London and I love it!

Christina, can't wait to read your new novel. It's on my list! :)

Jane Lovering said...

Roll on the summer for me, it's so cold and damp in Yorkshire I'm rusty from September to April. The blossom in your pics looks lovely, and I'm hoping to get to Tokyo next year to see it - may even make a Spring lover out of me yet!

Scarlet Kimono is next on my TBR pile, and I can't wait...

Christina Courtenay said...

Thanks Kath and Talli - yes, there's something so special about cherry blossom, isn't there? Beautiful, but fragile and gone all too quickly.

Autumn is great though, I'm with you on the leaf scrunching, Kath! That's wonderful.

Christina Courtenay said...

Oops, we must have posted at the same time, Jane, didn't see your comment :) You'll love Tokyo, I'm sure - I want to go too!

Don't like summer at all, much too hot for me ... but maybe in Yorkshire it's not as warm as London?

Phillipa said...

Hi Pia,

Congrats on the launch of Scarlet Kimono - and the dog(s) are gorgeous.

Feisty Crone said...

Excellent photos (especially the dog)! Congratulations on your book launch. I will look for The Scarlet Kimono.

Anonymous said...

I've always wanted to visit Japan in spring, but sadly when I was there the sakura had just finished flowering. Back then I promised myself I'd go back some time, and I will!

Btw, "The Scarlet Kimono" is a fab title for a book.


Glynis Peters said...

A lovely post. Love the book title.
Ah, Spring is on its way to Cyprus, the Cherry and Almond blossom are out. :)

Deborah Carr (Debs) said...

Thanks for your lovely comments. I've just finished reading The Scarlet Kimono and will be reviewing it for Bookersatz.x

Deborah Carr (Debs) said...

stacey - thanks for visiting and your comment, I'll pop over to your blog right now.