Greetings from New Orleans and please welcome historical author, Amara Royce! Amara is here today with a wonderful post. She’ll also give away one copy of her latest book to one of you who tells her you want the book!
The Art of the Floating World
One of the sometimes frustrating yet fascinating things about writing historical romance is that sometimes the most interesting research I do doesn’t actually end up in my books. I find myself delving into these rich and intriguing rabbit holes of history, but they don’t always fit into the story. That happened to me while writing ALWAYS A STRANGER, which features a half-Japanese heroine named Hanako, who is a performer at London’s Great Exhibition of 1851. Amid my research and exploration, I became enthralled by ukiyo-e.
Ukiyo-e refers to the art of Japanese woodblock prints from the Edo (Tokugawa) period (1615-1868). While the subjects of such prints ranged widely, 18th century ukiyo-e tended to focus on depicting the pleasure districts, including courtesans and kabuki performers. “Ukiyo” translates into “the floating world” and came to refer to that subculture of fleeting hedonistic pleasure.
I didn’t overtly refer to ukiyo-e artwork in ALWAYS A STRANGER, but some of the art definitely influenced how I imagined Hanako and her companions. The spare lines and aesthetics of this artwork contrast sharply with Western art of the time and serve as a stark visual reminder of how different these cultures were. Adrift in a such an unfamiliar world, Hanako strives to find a safe and welcoming place not just for herself but for those she loves and protects.
You can find more information about ukiyo, as well as some stunningly beautiful examples, at the Metropolitan Museum, New York (http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/ukiy/hd_ukiy.htm) and the Library of Congress, DC (http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/ukiyo-e/image.html).
Now the blurb:
When two worlds collide, anything is possible. . .
An international affair, London’s Great Exhibition has taken the city by storm. As its newest Royal Commissioner, Lord Skyler Ridgemont must ensure the performers are properly contracted. Among them is the delicate and graceful Hanako Sumaki. Draped in vivid silk robes, Hanako’s exotic Japanese fan dance captivates Skyler–and he longs to learn more about her. . .
But Hanako’s enigmatic employer keeps his exquisite charge very close. The consummate artist, she shows the handsome nobleman many faces, but never her true heart, which holds a desperate secret. When Skyler learns the real reason Hanako has been brought to London, he will risk his entire world to win her trust–and save her from losing both body and soul. It’s a feat that will require the type of courage only love can give. . .
Amara Royce writes historical romances that combine her passion for 19th-century literature and history with her addiction to Happily Ever Afters. She earned a PhD in English, specializing in 19th-century British literature, from Lehigh University and a Master’s degree in English from Villanova University, and she now teaches English literature and composition at a community college in Pennsylvania. When she isn’t writing, she’s either grading papers or reveling in her own happily ever after with her remarkably patient family.