Christina Courtenay Trade Winds Inspiration & Background
"Trade Winds" is a historical romance set in Sweden and China. It is loosely based on the Swedish East India Company's first journey to the Far East in 1732, but when I first started writing it, I had no idea this was going to be the case.
Ideas for stories can come to an author in many ways - they might be triggered by seeing a picture, hearing a snatch of conversation, noticing a scent or reading something that catches your interest. Usually, for me, one particular thing will make a scene form in my mind, but with this novel I was inspired in two very different ways.
First of all, in May 2007 the Swedish ship "Götheborg" anchored in London for a couple of weeks, which was exciting to me (a) because I'm half Swedish and (b) because it's not often you get to see huge sailing ships these days. The "Götheborg" is an exact replica of one of the ships used by the Swedish East India Company to sail to China in the eighteenth century. It had been on a journey to Canton and was on its way home. Members of the public were allowed to go on board and have a look around, so I took the opportunity to do so. It was fascinating and I couldn't believe how cramped conditions must have been for the poor sailors in the 18th century. They were truly brave men! (For more information and some photos, please click here) Out of curiosity, I began to read more about the Swedish East India Company, and the idea for my story took root.