My journey through the world of writing and everything that lies in between…

Pieces Falling Into Place

Don’t you love it when pieces of your story begin to fall into place? Especially if you’re doing historical fiction and you find something that just would be a great fit into your storyline?

Where does this come from, you ask? Well, after my initial idea was found to be quite inaccurate  (see Pitfalls of Historical Fiction entry for more details), I decided to try and make a decision on the path of my novel by doing a little research.

And I think I’m going with path #1.

I know most in the comments were leaning towards #2 but Kaiyo is so firmly established in my head as half Japanese and American that I feel that changing her appearance would essentially be changing her entire character. I really tried to picture her in the second option, but I just couldn’t see her without some other aspect of her personality changing with it. (That and Kaiyo pretty much began to throw a tantrum at me trying to “change” her. Gotta love these tempermental characters.)

So I went looking for something that would make #1 plausible and came across something. Instead of a politician, her father would be the head of a zaibatsu, or a business conglomerate of the time, often family run and operated (See the Wikipedia entry on Zaibatsu here). An example of a zaibatsu is the modern day company  Mitsubishi. They first developed in 1870 as a shipping firm. Of course they eventually expanded into coal mining, shipbuilding, banking, real estate and eventually the auto manufacturer (as well as many other industries today). They were also the same company that developed the Mitsubishi Zero of World War II as well as other famous Japanese bombers.

Anyway, enough of the history lesson. 😛 This information makes it more plausible for my character’s parents to meet. If Kaiyo’s father is the head (or at least someone close to the head of the company) in a similar fictional zaibatsu (loosely based after Mitsubishi) that was a shipping firm, it’s more likely that they would interact and work with American entrepreneurs coming in to “modernize” the country in the late 1860s and 1870s, thus providing an opportunity for her American mother to be introduced to him. Though mixed relationships were still uncommon (especially for an American woman and Japanese man) I do know that the possibility of such is historically accurate as I read about a real, though unnamed, married couple in Clara’s Diary: An American Girl in Meiji Japan.

Also, by 1890, the zaibatsu had significant influence on politics as they would often give substantial amounts of money to the party they supported. This could play a role in the antagonist’s arrival (a member of the terrorist organization Genyosha) and the reasoning behind using Kaiyo as leverage and blackmail. Books and film have portrayed these organizations as often involved in shady dealings and have connections to the yakuza (which would also tie into the novel, although at this point in history the yakuza were still mainly involved in gambling and street peddling).

I have to do more research on this, but I’m thinking that this makes things more realistic and accurate for my book without changing my character and trying to morph her appearance in my mind’s eye. Who knows, it may not work after all and I may be forced to go that route anyway, but for now I’m going to try and make this one work.

Comments on: "Pieces Falling Into Place" (8)

  1. I DO love it when that happens! My first book was historical and my husband found it really funny every time I would answer some stupid little question about daily life with such bouncy excitement. “Look!” I would point to the page in the book, “There WERE stick matches in 1887! Woo! The hero can light the lantern in the storm!” LOL!

  2. Sweetnesss! I’m glad that things are fitting together like that…

    And I’m also glad that you’re heading towards option #1 — I was more in favor of that one, anyway (for the same reasons that you stated…hehe, Kaiyo and I must be on the same wavelength). 😉

  3. excellent!! sounds like you’ve hit the nail on the head!

    it is really cool when things fall into place. I feel quite divinely shepherded when that happens… 🙂

  4. Oh my goodness! What intricate research you do. Wow. Go you. 🙂
    Yes, I love it too when it flows, when I get a 1000 words done and wonder where the time went.

  5. Congratulations on finding a path. It almost makes you want to jump up and shout for joy. I did when I figured out the major plot line of my book.

  6. I admire anyone who can do the research required for good historical fiction. I don’t think I have the patience but it sounds like you have that gift, along with a lot more interest in doing the research. Asian politics is certainly a topic that requires a lot of attention to detail so good luck with it. I look forward to reading the finished product.

  7. Good for you! I, too, love it when the pieces fall into place. It’s a magical feeling. : )

    Your novel sounds wonderful, too, by the way.


  8. Sounds fabulous- I am impressed with those who write historicals just because there are SO many details t get into place. Kudos!

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