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.