Lian Hearn is a pseudonym for Gillian Rubinstein, a well-known Australian writer of children's books and plays. She chose not to publish Tales of the Otori, (the series originally consisted of three books but she later added two more books) under her own name so as to have her first adult book judged in its own right and not compared to her previous writing for children. She chose her name by combining her childhood nickname (the last letters of Gillian) and the surname of Lafcadio Hearn, an Irish writer who lived in Japan at the end of the 19th century.
In June 2002, some time after the book had been sold on its own merits to publishers in multiple countries, and optioned for film writes, Rubinstein admitted that she was the author, saying "I think there is a strong tendency among the spectators or the readers of culture to pigeonhole people, and that's the thing that artists hate having done to them. They want to be free to do whatever seems to be the right thing at the time."
Rubenstein was born in England, grew up in the countryside and divided her teenage years between her mother and her stepfather's home in Nigeria, a remote English village and boarding school. She studied languages at Oxford University, traveled in Europe and worked in London, as an editor, freelance journalist, script assessor and film critic. She emigrated to Australia in 1973. Rubinstein has had a long-standing interest in Asia and returned to Japan in 1999 on a residency to work on what would become Tales of the Otori.
Lian Hearn's website
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A message from Lian Hearn the writing of Across the Nightingale Floor
I started writing Across the Nightingale Floor with the four main
characters in my head and the opening sentence in Takeo's voice. I was in
Akiyoshidai International Arts Village in Yamaguchi Prefecture; it was a damp,
humid afternoon in September. The light was pale and opalescent. Water
trickled from the pools around the artists' residence, carp splashed and
occasionally a kingfisher swooped above the pool. I was writing in a notebook
with a black gel pen I'd bought in Himeji. I wrote My mother used to
threaten to tear me limb from limb.' Later I changed this to into eight
pieces'. I occasionally like to use Japanese idioms translated literally to
give the feeling that the book is not written in English.
For many years before I had steeped myself in Japanese history and literature, reading widely, watching films, studying the language. Now I had several weeks alone in Japan in this idyllic place; the challenge was to see if I could bring to life what had lain within my mind all that time.
Slowly the world of the Otori began to evolve. I often went to Hagi, the old ...
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