Across The Nightingale Floor is the first novel in Liann Hearn's "Tales of the Otori" Trilogy. It was first published in 2002. It is set in a fictional feudal system and tells the story of a fifteen year old girl named Kaede and a sixteen year old boy called Tomasu. Tomasu is a member of The Hidden and when he returns from time in the mountains he discovers that his family has been murdered. Hearn began to write the book after hearing the opening sentences of the book in her head in the voice of Takeo. She was able to easily picture the four main characters due largely in part from the inspiration drawn from her surroundings; at the time she was in Akiyoshidal International Arts Village, in Yamaguchi Prefecture. The views around her gave rise to the images described in the book; it was a damp and humid September day, quiet except for the occasional jumping of fish.
Hearn had long been captivated by Japanese culture but penned this novel after fully immersing herself in it at a writer's retreat. The attendees visited Samurai houses, made several visits to the mystical castle of the Choshu clan and wandered through rice fields in order to picture the lives that her characters would have been living five hundred years ago. She had also long been interested in feudalism and so decided that she would construct a fictional "fantasy" feudal system where her characters would live. As in much Japanese literature, what is unsaid is as important as what is said. There are no traditional villains but a series of antagonists and heroes who are forced to remain silent in the face of societal restraint that cripples the intensity of their joy of life and their emotions.
Hearn decided to write a trilogy as she neared the end of this first novel because she realized there were still many untold stories, and so she wrote the entire trilogy in one go between September 1999 and April 2001. She believes that the lengthy work fell naturally into three segments without her needing to edit her work.
The Tales of the Otori trilogy has been published in thirty six countries and received the Book of the Year award in Germany in 2004.