While I forge ahead on the verse novel, I’ve also been doing research for the adult novel I’m in the early stages of developing. One of my tasks has been to nut out details of the background for my main Japanese character, a circus performer touring Australia during WWII. It’s fiction, so I have a lot of license, but it’s historical, so I want to get the details as ‘right’ as possible so the story rings true.
So I’ve got this circus performer – an acrobat – and I’ve been asking myself what kind of background such a person would come from in 1940s Japan? I had this idea that my character would be from an educated family, someone who’s expected to go on to higher education and a ‘respectable’ profession but is so drawn by the lure of the circus that he turns his back on all that. I’ve been reading and reading and talking to people and following tiny snippets of information down neverending rabbit holes and the clear consensus seemed to be that this was not realistic, that those who ended up in the performing life were either born into it, sold into it, or stumbled into it out of poverty and necessity, that a well-bred son in this era would not-could not do such a thing.
So I had a quandary. Do I stick with what I think will make a really compelling backstory for my character but is completely historically wrong? Or do I re-think everything?
I hate quandaries. And I hate it when my best-laid fictional plans are rent asunder by pesky reality (about which, see also Ducks, Diet).
So in an attempt to avoid facing a decision I didn’t want to make, I kept reading.
And I found this: Isn’t that incredible? I know you’re as excited as I am. Just try to contain it. I’ll be over here in the corner, writing backstory.