Did you watch Inside the World of Geisha on Oprah today? It’s a wonderful look at this fascinating world through the eyes of a Westerner…but what if a gaijin or foreigner had the opportunity to enter the world of geisha back in the 19th century?
What if…and you have The Blonde Geisha.
The heroine of my novel from Harlequin Spice. How did I become interested in geisha?
My love affair with Japan began with a red kimono.
When I slipped on the silky robe, my bare skin tingled as if the gold and silver threads woven through the sumptuous fabric were spun with magic. I imagined I was a geisha with her tantalizing walk and elegant mannerisms. Her long, silky black hair sliding over my bare shoulder like cool ice. Dark, smoldering eyes hot with desire. Soul-melty lips glistening with the taste of passion. I so envied the seductive powers of this enchantress, but who would believe a blonde geisha?
I am no stranger to Japan. It all started years ago when I studied the art of kimono with a sensei, teacher, at a school that makes kimono in Kyoto. She told me the story about the ghost of a beautiful geisha who haunted the kimono shop, once a wooden tea house. She had died in a fire many years ago, her journey forgotten and covered by the mists of time until her diary was discovered in a small work-box called a haribako containing her geisha makeup. According to the story, her diary was written on long, narrow sheets of soft rice paper, pierced with a silken string and alive with the strangeness and sensuality of the floating world of the geisha.
I never forgot her story.
Over the years I’ve worked for several Japanese companies–writing cartoon scripts, acting in tofu and cola commercials for the Japan market, being a hostess for Japanese businessmen–and immersed myself in the Japanese trends and traditions. I published books about Japanese business and culture (including The Japanese Art of Sex: How to tease, seduce and pleasure the samurai in your bedroom, which was featured on Playboy TV), but I couldn’t forget the red kimono. I wanted to write a story where the reader could experience firsthand what it was like to become a geisha. Living the fairy tale, if you will.
Then it hit me. What if the geisha was a Westerner? And what if she lived at the end of the nineteenth century when Japan embraced everything Western?
What if?…and you have The Blonde Geisha.
It wasn’t until Harlequin started their Spice line that The Blonde Geisha found a home and the rest is–
“And then Jina Bacarr’s Blonde Geisha crossed my desk,” senior editor Susan Swinwood (née Pezzack) told the attendees during the Erotica Panel at the 2006 RWA Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, “…and that rule just flew out the window.”
The rule Susan referred to was not to include historicals in their erotic fiction program. I’ll never forget that day. I was sitting in the audience, fumbling with my new digital camera, working the zoom, checking the sound, trying to get the darn thing to work, when I heard Susan mention The Blonde Geisha (set in 1895 Japan). Her mention of my book was less than a minute, but it meant the culmination of years of hard work and perseverance.
I’m happy to say I got my camera working in time to record Susan talking about The Blonde Geisha along with highlights of her talk at the Atlanta 2006 RWA conference. Here is that video.
What’s up next for the blonde geisha?
The Blonde Samurai takes place in 1874 Japan and is the erotic story of an American heiress who flees an abusive British husband when she falls in love with a rebellious samurai who teaches her the “way of the warrior.”
“She embraced the way of the warrior. Two swords. Two loves.”
And check out the adventures of the heroine of The Blonde Samurai, Lady Carlton née Katie O’Roarke, in “Naughty Victorian Lady tells all blog at eHarlequin.com