Based on a question from Lindsay Townsend, author of Flavia’s Secret.
Katana Duet: Samurai’s Forbidden Love is full of water imagery.
The book opens with the twin samurai wading through the cold waters of Genbu-ike, Black Turtle Lake. The two young men each travel across the Pacific Ocean and settle down in Madison, Wisconsin near Lake Mendota which is one of four lakes in the city.
Water in Katana Duet is a natural “mirror” and is the metaphorical bond between the identical twins who are also called “mirror samurai”.
A more in depth analysis is that ofcourse all infants begin in the water of the womb. For the Matsumoto brothers, their bond began and is forever enshrined in this element.
Below is an excerpt from the novella, which is currently on sale with a 15% discount at http://www.bookstrand.com
This is an image of the two characters, Klara Lennartsson and Akeno Matsumoto in the excerpt.
Sketch by http://annecain.deviantart.com
1875, Madison, Wisconsin…
“The four lakes around Madison make me think of Goshikinuma, the five lakes near my home in Japan.”
Klara could see the longing in his body language. His eyes seem to be staring at a distance even beyond the opposite shore of the water. “Tokyo has that many lakes?”
“Not Tokyo, Ise-han, in northern Japan. I haven’t been home for a long time. The Goshikinuma five lakes are of different colors too, very beautiful. I wish you could see them, Klara.”
“Well, maybe one day you can take me to Japan.” She looked at him, but he was somewhere else. “You really want to go back, don’t you, Akeno?”
Akeno stared at the water and could not decide if he saw himself or his brother. The lakes around the area cooled the otherwise sweltering heat with a crisp breeze off the water’s surface. “If I had gone to the lake that night, I would never have been able to meet you here in America.”
Klara swatted the surface, causing ripples to disperse the reflection. “Hey, you! Daydreaming? What are you talking about?”
“No, just thinking.”
“About?” Please look at me, Akeno, while I am feeling strong and happy.
“How I ended up here in this city, in your house.” Akeno took in the forest which surrounded them.
“Don’t ask questions. Just accept that you are here, Akeno. I never ask why I’m this way either.” The fierce wind lifted her hair, and she closed her eyes briefly.
“There’s nothing wrong with you.” Akeno felt comfortable taking her slender hands into his own. “You’re fine, beautiful, good, perfection.” He paused between each word as he listed them.
“Not always, Akeno. You don’t know me very well.” Klara glanced at the geese flying across the sky. “Reading the dictionary again, aren’t you? Your English is improving!” I would never describe myself in those terms. I was a burden to my parents since I was a child, and now I’m Konrad’s problem.
“Well, I must try to study. Maybe in the spring I can take a class if I can get a job now and save money.”
Klara poked his chest and said, “You’ll have a hard time in school. Your speech is fine. It’s your writing that’s horrid!”
“But you will teach me more?” He looked into her eyes for confirmation.
“If you start paying attention.”
They had lived with each other for a few weeks, and he knew that their time on the lake was the only privacy they had away from Konrad or Aki’s constant supervision. “Klara, my brother and I were lucky to come to the United States, but we aren’t going to reach any of our ambitions.”
Her eyes were full of sympathy as she listened.
“We are out of money, and I can’t find a really good job here without an education. I can barely write a paragraph in English. Even if I improved with your—what’s the word?”
“Tutelage,” Klara smiled.
“It would be hard for me to study at the university. Maybe we Matsumoto brothers aren’t being realistic.”
“But there’s no point in you going back to Japan either.” She leaned forward. “Just stay here with me. You have no idea how much freedom I have with you. Konrad is busy with his research, and he would rather have me sit in my room all day. At least you escort me everywhere.”
“Klara, I don’t really belong here.”
“Do you have someone waiting for you in Japan? You can tell me.”
“I don’t have anyone in Nippon.” Akeno knew if he looked in the water, he would see Aki. “Home is wherever my brother is. If he wants to live here, so will I. If Aki wants to go back to Nippon, I will follow.”
“You are two separate people, Akeno. Sure, you look the same, but you are as different as night and day.”
“No, we are one person.” He looked into the water again to see Aki.
Leif Lennartsson was a good marksman, and on a beautiful day like this, he knew the deer would be out grazing in the woods around Madison’s famed lake. A doe pricked her ears, and the shifting wind allowed the animal to sense the hunter. The beast leaped into the foliage when Leif slid closer on his stomach with his rifle. Earlier, he spotted two black wolves, but he knew better than to shoot at them. Mated wolves could turn ferocious if one was shot. Leif wasn’t going to risk getting attacked. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a lone boat close to the southeast side of the lake. He knew the girl from the dress she was wearing. Else made that dress for Klara. “That man ain’t Konrad,” Leif murmured to himself before recognition dawned. It didn’t matter which twin it was. They were both the same to him.
“Promise you’ll stay?” She waited for his answer and held her breath. “I swear I won’t trouble you long, Akeno.”
Akeno was about to look into the water and ask for Aki’s permission, but Klara crept in closer, her knees touching his. If Akeno was in Japan, a samurai such as himself would never be allowed to caress the face of his beloved in public or to press his lips against her cheek. But I’m not in Japan. Klara closed her eyes as she felt his warm breath near her face.
“Disgusting,” Leif sneered at the show of affection. He squeezed the trigger and fired a warning shot.
The blast cut through the peaceful scene, and Akeno crouched forward and wrapped his arm protectively around Klara’s shoulder. That was too close! There’s no game on the lake! Akeno stood up suddenly and scanned the shoreline.
“Stupid hunters!” Klara breathed.
The samurai caught sight of a man crouched in the tall grass by the water’s edge on the far side.
“Akeno, w-wait! Don’t do that!” Klara tried to grab his arm.
Too angry to heed her warning, he hastily placed his foot on the edge of the small boat, hoping to get a good view, but flipping the small vessel over.
Klara and Akeno were sent into the cold waters.