This book was a very long time in the writing. I started work in April 2008 and didn't manage to finish the first draft until October 2009, the longest it's taken me to write any book, ever. The first draft was 130,000 words long. After much painful revising and editing it's now 103,000 words long. Just to give you an idea of length, The Swan Kingdom is 65,000 words. Daughter of the Flames is 85,000.
In the course of writing the story I acquired nearly thirty reference books on Feudal and modern Japan, a Japanese Akido set, a Japanese tea set, a full Japanese kimono with tabi socks and zori sandals, and twelve albums of traditional Japanese music.
But it wasn't length of the book or the huge amounts of research on Japan, that caused it to take so long to complete.
It's because this story needed things from me that required a greater skill than any I've ever had to use before. Writing this book had me in tears. Constantly. Writing this book made me bang my head against the wall. Frequently. There were times when I thought I'd never be able to do it, times when, frankly, I thought it would never be finished. It pushed me right to the limits of my craft, my talent and my endurance.
The result? I love this book. I love it in a way that I didn't think I ever would be able to love a book, because I wouldn't change a single thing about it. I know it's the absolute best thing I've ever written and that creating this story and these characters has made me five times the writer I was before.
So, what is it about? Basically, it's Cinderella, turned on its head and set in a faerytale version of Feudal Japan. It's a story about revenge, and obsession and about magic, and about what happens when people lie to themselves and others. But mostly - and most importantly - it's about love, in all its varied, beautiful and frightening forms.