“Miracles” happen all the time –both now and then. I will let my readers decide what is real in the miracle department.
No, Father Joaquim Martinez is a fictional character, but in many ways represents the very real and heroic Jesuit priests who sacrificed their lives to bring Christianity and a degree of light to Japan during these dark times.
Other Jesuit characters in the story were real however. For example, on June 20, 1626, an execution of Christian priests took place. These were all real heroic clergy, including Bishop Francisco Pacheco from Portugal, Balthasar de Torres from Spain, Iwan Baptist from Italy, along with multiple other real people.
At a minimum, all of the primary “villains” in the story were very real people. These include Shogun Iemitsu, his father Hidetada, Daimyo (“Warlord”) Matsukura Shigemasa, Governor Mizuno Kawachi, Deputy-Lieutenant Heizo Suetsugu Masanao and so on. It took me a long time to do the historical research on these people in order to understand their motives. All these individuals were very wicked and evil men.
The entire Christian holocaust is a very real fact and a dark side of Japanese history. The political context and cultural climate was also real along with multiple dates, characters and events throughout the story.
Yes. For a variety of reasons, mostly paranoia and extreme ego, the shogun abhorred Christianity and foreigners. Because of this extreme level of hatred, he literally stopped at nothing to carry out the Christian holocaust. As depicted in the story, the shogun was a very disturbed and evil man, stopping at nothing to achieve his end.
The torture and violence described in the novel is probably on the timid side of what actually occurred during these times.
As a writer, I struggled with what to include in the novel versus leaving out. On the one hand, I wanted the story to be authentic and include all the blood and hardship that prevailed during this era. On the other hand, I didn’t want to overwhelm or put off my readers with too much violence, so my writing on the topic was somewhat of a balancing act.
All told, I have been working on this project for 14 years. It took me a long time to do all the necessary historical research, at least 10 years, before I felt comfortable enough writing a novel about it.
The first objective I had was historical revelation. Not too many people are aware of this dark period of history and I thought this novel would be a great way to build awareness. The second, less tangible, objective I had was faith and empowerment based. These were tough times for a lot of people and I’m a firm believer that a strong degree of faith can empower people to do great things.