I asked Nichole if I could make a blog tour stop here and she agreed, ‘if’ I did a guest post about researching my book. I of course agreed because researching for a fantasy novel is not the first thing to come to mind for most folks when they here ninjas and wizards… Perhaps I should explain.
My name is Hayden D. Linder and my debut novel, “The Hand of Death” is an epic fantasy about a young boy being groomed into a master assassin. The setting is based loosely on feudal Japan. The strength of the story is its characters and the decisions they have to make if their House is to survive. As a reader you get to watch as the main character, Shotoku Hiro, evolves from a person who simply obeys orders like a soldier into a man who makes decisions based on what is best for his House, The Koga, and his country, Giapan.
When I first started writing the story I didn’t give much thought to researching anything. I had a general storyline and several pieces of dialogue in my head and just needed to get them onto paper. By the way, those last two sentences encompass about eight months of writing. There was a lot in my head. BUT, once that was accomplished I did something truly, truly stupid. I thought it would be good to add quotes from Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” to the top of every chapter of my book. Yes, mostly because I thought it would look cool but I also thought it would help with the immersion of the reader into the world of Giapan. And it did. And I am very happy I made the decision. Unfortunately this would be when the reality of research raised its ugly head.
Sun Tzu was a Chinese general but he was highly revered in Japan. After reading his treatise I realized just how many holes I had in my knowledge of Japanese history. That led to many more sites on a multitude of subjects from clothing to law enforcement to the judicial system to social mores and so on. Did you know the Mongols attempted to invade Japan on two different occasions? Both invasion fleets were wiped out by the “Kamikaze” or “Divine wind.” I also discovered odd contradictions that I found extremely interesting. Like, peasants are not allowed to carry weapons and yet Ashigaru or peasant forces were common in feudal Japan. Some carried spears and some carried black powder weapons. There was even a time when these forces completely left the service of their lords and became mercenaries. Originally I wrote the book because I had a story I needed to get out of my head but it turned into a wonderful learning experience for me. If you view writing a novel as akin to a teacher giving a lesson, then the old adage was true for me. “The teacher always learns more than the student.”
Looking back at the cyber-piles of data I had to plow through, from famous ninjas in Japanese history to what kind of shoes they wore in heavy snow, I find myself happy that I did it. I think little details are what make the difference between a blasé story and an exceptional one. I know that for me I had a great time writing this story. I enjoyed the research but most of all I loved the inspiration I was able to take away from all that digging.
If I had one wish for you it would be this; when it comes time for you to write that Novel/Novella/Paper/Peace Treaty between the Lilliputians and the Blefuscu, look forward to the researching of information. That is where most of the fun lies hidden.
About Hayden Linder
I have done several jobs over the years but currently I am a 40 something year old PC Tech. I have a lovely daughter, Kyle, by my ex-wife and four beautiful children, Chuy, Vivian, Felix and Lalo by my long suffering wife Ruby. I spend most of my time being grateful for the life God gave me and trying to be a blessing to those around me.
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