The Yamabuki series is inspired by a 12th-century woman chronicled in historic writings of the times. It is said Yamabuki was beautiful and that she accompanied Yoshinaka, The Rising Sun General, and Tomoe Gozen, a more famous woman warrior on their adventures and into battle. Some accounts even say she was a general who led troops into ferocious battles.
In writing I hoped as much as possible to avoid setting the action in Tokugawa era, which is familiar to many fans of historic Japan. The 12th-century Japan was very different from the 17th century. This required leaving behind fond images of geisha, two-sword samurai with shaven pate and wearing hair in a topknot, ritualized harakiri, Japanese baths, tatami mats, tea ceremonies, and a host of other things–which Ivan Morris warns us about in his “World of the Shining Prince.”
But mostly, I wanted to write about the humanity of my main character, Taka Yamabuki. Though she says she is not a Buddhist, in some ways hers is a warrior’s version of the Buddhist story. Born in riches and the easy life of the palace, she chooses to go out into the world, not as a nun in search of truth, but as a warrior in search of herself and the meaning of life. I have deliberately not made her into a scantily clad hot bad-ass, but a woman who survives through her wits, resorting to fighting only when faced with no other options.
The story arc of all the Yamabuki books I have planned will take her from a very young woman all the way to her old age and how she grows, changes, loves, triumphs, suffers, grieves, and loses those she cares about in this sad world–a veil of tears.