Sooooo excited today! To celebrate the publication of Christina Courtenay’s new novel, The Gilded Fan, we have a fabulous interview with the hero, Nico Noordholt, captain of the Zwarte Zwaan, a ship belonging to the Dutch East India Company.
Author Christina Courtenay and publishers ChocLit are giving away a copy of The Scarlet Kimono, which is the prequel but can be read as a stand-alone. Just leave a comment below and we will select a winner at random next Wednesday, 6 March.
So, Nico, that’s not your real name, is it? – Yes, it is now <frosty glare>. Look, I had some issues with my father – basically the old curmudgeon disinherited me and considered me a wastrel – so when I decided to leave England and become a Dutch citizen instead, I didn’t see why I should keep his surname. Would you have? Nico is just short for Nicholas, which is what I used to be called.
Right, well, it’s good to know you weren’t lying. – Don’t you start! I never lie, I’m an honourable man. I just have my own ‘moral compass’ as it were.
Ok, ok. Let’s talk about your recent voyage to the Far East. We hear you had a rather troublesome passenger on the way back. Want to tell us a bit more? – Oh, yes, the worst! <laughs and shakes head> Midori Kumashiro was the last person I wanted on board my ship, let me tell you. I mean, can you imagine what a stunningly beautiful young woman is going to do to the hundred-odd men that comprise the crew of a trading ship, and who have to be at sea for months on end without so much as seeing a woman? Honestly, bringing her along was madness.
And yet you did! – Well, what choice did I have? The Japanese authorities were going to execute her and I couldn’t let that happen. Despite her background, she was as much a foreigner there as I was, to all intents and purposes. I did refuse at first but … all right, I admit it, one smile from her and I completely lost my wits. Sad, very sad.
A little bird told me her smile wasn’t the only thing that felled you. – I do not want to talk about that. I don’t fight with women. I let her win. Not that she can’t hold her own when it comes to combat, but still …
Sure, we believe you. <holds up hands in surrender> Don’t shoot daggers at me with those blue eyes of yours. I was only joking. – Yes, and I’m a Dutchman … oh, well, actually I am <chuckles>
Now then, you’re heading back to Japan again, is that right? – Yes, very soon now. Meanwhile I’m trying to learn some Japanese. Even though I’m bringing my own personal interpreter this time, I like to be able to talk to people myself. I think they’d prefer it too, consider it a courtesy, you know?
Are you finding it difficult? – Not really. I’m never going to get the hang of all the nuances of how to address people of different status and things like that, but I should be able to grasp basic kitchen Japanese. I learned Dutch after all, and the pronunciation was hell, begging your pardon. Japanese can’t be any worse than that.
Yes, I see what you mean. Will you ever come back to England, do you think? – Eventually, yes. Now I’ve made my peace with my family, I can see myself having a little house in Plymouth for long visits, as well as my permanent abode in Amsterdam. And you never know, there may be a child or two by then. Knowing my stepmother she’ll want to see them.
Is there something you’re not telling us? – Er, it’s not really my secret to tell yet, but in a few months perhaps … <smiles>
Well, we wish you the best of luck for the future. Sounds like you’re going to need it! –Thank you, and how! <grin>
The Blurb for The Gilded Fan
How do you start a new life, leaving behind all you love?
It’s 1641, and when Midori Kumashiro, the orphaned daughter of a warlord, is told she has to leave Japan or die, she has no choice but to flee to England. Midori is trained in the arts of war, but is that enough to help her survive a journey, with a lecherous crew and an attractive captain she doesn’t trust?
Having come to Nagasaki to trade, the last thing Captain Nico Noordholt wants is a female passenger, especially a beautiful one. How can he protect her from his crew when he can’t keep his own eyes off her?
During their journey, Nico and Midori form a tentative bond, but they both have secrets that can change everything. When they arrive in England, a civil war is brewing, and only by standing together can they hope to survive…
LINKS FOR CHRISTINA COURTENAY
Website : www.ChristinaCourtenay.com
Facebook : Christina.Courtenay.9
Twitter : @PiaCCourtenay
Publishers : ChocLit
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