When I wrote The Scarlet Kimono I hadn’t planned any sequels – it was just going to be the usual Happy Ever After ending, leaving the heroine in Japan with the love of her life. However, I couldn’t help thinking about the children this couple would have and wonder what would happen to them.
Naturally, they would look slightly different to pure Japanese children – with a red-haired and blue-eyed mother, that was inevitable – so how would they be treated? Then I started to do a bit more research about foreigners in Japan in the 1600s and discovered that the Shogun (ruler) decided to evict them all in 1641, including all their children, whether half Japanese or not. That’s when a new story started to take shape in my mind.
I already had a random scene written which had been inspired by the song The Temple of the King by the group Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. This evolved into the beginning of the story of Hannah and Taro’s daughter Midori. It became clear to me that she would have no choice but to flee back to her mother’s country – England.
So how would a heathen half-Japanese girl cope with her English relatives in Plymouth, a world away from where she’d grown up? And as Puritans, how would the relatives cope with her? Then there was the additional strain of the English Civil War which began just as Midori was arriving in Europe …