I am pleased to welcome author Patricia Kiyono to my blog today!
Tell us a little about your new release from Astraea Press, The Samurai’s Garden.
The Samurai’s Garden is the book of my heart. I am proud of my Japanese heritage and have always been fascinated with its history. I wanted to write something to pay tribute to my ancestors and hopefully entertain as well as inform.
Hiro Tanaka prepared for a life as a samurai warrior. But his world changed when Japan’s feudal system was abolished by the Emperor. Now, he must find a new vocation. Disillusioned with fighting and violence, he travels alone, going north to the island of Hokkaido. Many other samurai wander through the country and are known as ronin. Some have forsaken their honorable way to prey on the less fortunate.
Hanako Shimizu experienced first-hand the devastation caused by these disreputable wanderers. The previous winter, they raided her farm and killed her husband. Now, she needs to rebuild but has no money and no prospects — except for the dubious intentions of the town merchant.
When Hiro, tired of his wandering, encounters Hanako in the market, arguing with the merchant, he poses as her late husband’s cousin then offers to help her on the farm in exchange for a place to stay. Working on the land, Hiro finally finds the peace he has been seeking. But the reappearance of the rogue ronin, led by an unscrupulous leader from Hiro’s past, forces him to take up his swords again. But now, the stakes are higher.
This time, he’s fighting from the heart.
What inspired this story?
I started writing The Samurai’s Garden over seven years ago, when I retired from my full-time teaching job. I started thinking about who I was and where I came from. I read about the colorful warriors who defended their masters and their code of conduct known as the Bushido. And suddenly I saw in my imagination a character who had been through the rigorous samurai training, but had a gentle heart and preferred to celebrate life rather than death.
What are you working on now? Do you have any releases scheduled for this year?
I’m working on a series of books with a writing partner, Stephanie Michels. We’re writing about a group of women who belong to a quilt club meeting at The Stitching Post, in southwest Michigan. The women are of different ages and come from different walks of life, but they share a love of sewing and they all come together for each other. As for current releases, I had two releases this month – The Samurai’s Garden was released on November 6, and The Partridge and the Peartree, a Regency Christmas romance, was released on November 1. Both were published by Astraea Press.
What are your writing goals for next year?
I would like to see at least two of the Stitching Post series completed and published, as well as the sequel of The Samurai’s Garden. I’m toying with a possible sequel to my romantic suspense novella, Aegean Intrigue.
How do you come up with ideas?
Sometimes they come from conversations with people. Other times they come from things I read – the news, or someone’s facebook post.
Can you share with us “the call” story?
I had been working on The Samurai’s Garden for about six years when the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear plant disaster happened in Sendai, Japan. My paternal grandfather came from that city about a hundred years ago, and most of my relatives still live in various parts of Japan. When I heard that Astraea Press put out a call for submissions for a line of charity books I was intrigued. They asked for novella length stories, so instead of paring down my samurai story I wrote a novella about his modern day descendant who lives in California. The Legacy was accepted, and I’ve been thrilled to be associated with Astraea Press. This inspired me to complete the samurai story and I couldn’t be happier.
Where do you start when writing? Research, plotting, character, or…?
I’m a plotter. Most of the time my stories spring from the conflict. When I read about a problem or injustice, sometimes my mind starts thinking about how someone might be affected by that problem – and then I come up with a character to deal with it.
Do you have a favorite time of day for writing?
Late at night. After hubby goes to bed, it’s quiet!
How do you balance writing and everyday life?
I probably don’t do such a good job at that. My house is a shambles. And I stay up way too late, considering the fact that I often get up at 3 AM to go to work.
What is your favorite food to cook or eat?
Chocolate, pasta, and fruit. My husband does most of the cooking, so I just eat.
What do you like to read?
Almost any kind of romance, and cozy mysteries.
Who first introduced you to the love of reading?
My father. He influenced me in so many ways, and I’ve always strived to be like him. He was one of the most intelligent people I knew.
Do you have any good news you’d like to share?
My husband and I will be grandparents for the ninth time in May!
These are few of my favorite things:
1. Going to my grandkids’ concerts and sporting events.
2. Making music with my family and/or friends.
3. Finding out that people have read my books and liked them!
Before Hanako could blink, the stranger had made the purchase and had turned to lead the cow out of the stockyard. He indicated with a regal nod for her to pick up the cage of chickens, ignoring her frustrated glare. Without a word, he started down the road leading away from the village. Helpless to do anything else, she followed at the customary three paces behind him. He had the animals she wanted, and nothing would be gained by making a scene here.
Trudging silently behind the stranger, Hanako’s mind raced. Who is this man? How dare he step in and purchase the animals I spent so much time choosing? Kenji had never mentioned a cousin. Besides, it’s inconceivable for a samurai, especially one so tall and — virile, to be a relative to Kenji, who was smaller than average and — not so virile. And why would he pretend to be my fiancé? She gathered her thoughts, but before she could deliver her tirade, the stranger stopped, turned around, and held the cow’s lead rope out to her.
“This is yours. I only made the purchase because that idiot would not deal with you. I made up the story about being your husband’s cousin, and I thought you could just repay me after we were out of his sight.”
Hanako tilted her head, confusion lining her face. She took the rope, but couldn’t stop herself from asking, “Why would you do this for me?” She narrowed her eyes in suspicion. “What do you want from me?”
The big man shrugged. “Nothing, except repayment for the animals you are holding.”
She felt her face burn. “Mmm, that might take a little while. I hoped Sato-san would sell me the animals and let me make payments later.” Her embarrassment turned to anger as Hiro burst into laughter. “What’s so funny? Do you doubt my ability to work the farm and turn a profit?”
“I don’t doubt your ability at all. But I can just imagine what kind of payment that vermin would want from you,” he rasped. “I heard some of the things he said.” He took her arm as she turned away. “If you don’t have the money, then perhaps you could give me a place to stay for a while. The inn here is full, and there are no other accommodations in town. I’ve been traveling a long time and I’m tired.”
Hanako looked closely at the stranger. Her sharp eyes took in the rich fabric of his obi, the fine craftsmanship and fit of his clothing, and the bejeweled hilts on both his long and short sword. “I can’t offer fine accommodations like you are accustomed to having.” Her eyes narrowed as another thought occurred to her. “And why should I believe you would not expect the same payment as you suspect Sato-san wanted?”
Hiro drew himself up. “I have taken the oath of the Bushido. You are not an enemy, so I would not harm you or anything that is yours.”
It was Hanako’s turn to laugh. “It was a band of your honorable men who came and raided my home, killed my husband, and burned my crops last fall. I do not have much faith in your code.”
At the mention of the masterless samurai known as ronin, Hiro’s lips curled in disgust. Though many former samurai had taken positions in the Emperor’s army or had found new careers, a few wandered the country aimlessly, causing havoc. Now, Hanako wondered if her insult had pushed the stranger too far. If he chose to punish her for speaking to him so, she would have no defense against his strength. She watched his expression, wondering if she should try to run. Finally, he bowed stiffly and spoke. Hanako braced herself for the worst. But her jaw dropped in surprise at his words.
“I apologize for the actions of my fellow samurai,” he began, “and you may consider the animals partial payment toward retribution for your loss. In addition, I will work for you this season so your lands may be restored to their former value.”
During her first career, Patricia Kiyono taught elementary music, computer classes, elementary classrooms, and junior high social studies. She now teaches music education at the university level.
She lives in southwest Michigan with her husband, not far from her children and grandchildren. Current interests, aside from writing, include sewing, crocheting, scrapbooking, and music. A love of travel and an interest in faraway people inspires her to create stories about different cultures.
You can find The Samuarai’s Garden at: