Japonism & The Bound Heart

Q: What is one of the strongest influences in The Bound Heart?

I would say one of the major colours which permeate the story is Japonism.

Japonism is the influence of Japanese art, fashion and aesthetic on Western culture. Dates have it round 1854 – early 1900’s. It influenced the impressionists, and rolled into Art Nouveau and Cubism. Japan had been closed off from the world and ins seclusion for over 200 years, and in the Meiji restoration in 1868 opened itself up for trade and export. This opening rolled the immense beauty and aesthetic if Japanese culture into Victorian England, as well as other parts of Europe.

Richly coloured and embroidered Kimonos were made especially for the western market as well as the traditional Kimono and their more culturally true colours. Large golden and calligraphy screens, polished wooden chests or draws with black iron work, blue and white ceramics with motives reflective of the strong connection Japan has with nature and the seasons.


Q: How is this reflected in the book?

This Japanese aesthetic comes out in three core areas of the story.

Obviously in the shibari rope work that Jamie Edwards, our hero is  a master of. In the Japanese features of Jamie’s house and the living habits that are part of his home. And finally in the clothing aesthetic as Olive starts to move into the life of an artist and bohemian and embraces the Kimono.

In many ways Olive is the one we journey with who embraces these Japanese influences with new and hungry eyes. Jamie was been exposed to it as a young man since he started to have contact with his now deceased teacher, Kobayashi-sensei. So he has found his place of being western and embracing and westernising Japanese influences. But for Olive this is all very new.

I see Olive in sensual fabrics and rich patterns and embroidered Kimono as part of Jamie Binding her and tugging the kimono’s open as the rope holds her captured in place. I see her experimenting with the kimono and Haora (short kimono jackets) and integrating them with her Victorian fashion. As she is exposed to Jamie’s crowd she enters a very bohemian world and not only finds her place in it but flourishes to find her unique talent / gift and the courage to embrace it.


Q: So how does the rope work fit into all of this? It just doesn’t seem like a black leather and ball gag type of setting?


No, no it doesn’t. I’ll be doing a more detailed post on shibari later. But what I am using in the book is some of the very decorative shibari. I have used licence here as it is unlikely that this type of rope work would have been practiced in the late 1900’s but the root of shibari had started by then. The decorative rope work I have seen and inspired me for the book, show cases the rope and the human form like works of art. There is still a strong sensual and sexual aura but not how many of us may initially imagine bondage to look like.

Here are some examples of decorative Shibari. I think you can see the very sensual nature of them. The book also has some suspension work and mat work with the rope. I hope that I have been able to capture this lush sensuality.


Pre-Order available Dec 1st

Released on 26th January 2016