The Samurai and boy love of the Seventeenth Century
A few years ago when I was in university, I had to write a paper based on anything I’d like and create a promotional campaign behind it. I had three weeks to do this assignment – it was huge. It took me almost two weeks to figure out what to do my project on and when I finally chose my topic, I decided to write about the samurai. People thought I was insane. Even the professor couldn’t believe I’d chosen them. The truth was—I was terrified. I mean, who did that?
So, I spent two days buried up to my ears in old books and all that good stuff at the reference library. Then I tackled the books in the library at my college. When I surfaced for air, I had a new found curiosity for these epic men of battle. I can’t remember what book I was reading but there was a line that said something to the effect of “the question wasn’t why homosexuality amongst samurai—the question was, why not?”
Here were these men who were bad ass…especially the Ronin like my character Osaki was. The Ronin roamed the land, looking for fights and then when they found one they didn’t end until one or both of the samurai was/were dead. So, yes, they had to be good in their bad-assery. (Yes I know that’s not a word but it fits, lol).
Back then, same-love wasn’t such a big deal as it is now. I find it a little sad that seventeenth century Japan was a little more open to homosexual love than we are today.
What really got me though was that these men were into the whole boy-love kind of deal, which is strange and in most countries in the world, illegal these days. Why illegal? In most cases the boy was first made love to by his samurai lord at only 14 years old. That’s one of the practices I am glad is outlawed these days.
While I would never write a 14 year old doing the dirty at any point ever, this was the reality back in those days.
There were rules to govern these affairs between the samurai and their young lovers—rules like when the boy lovers were in the service of a Samurai, they could not service another in the same way.
When I added Osaki to the cast of my SHIVERs series, he was supposed to only be the best friend to Ciro and Ares, because I tend to take every chance to add culture in my stories. Then I had to create a background for him to explain his being on Olympus and the story of his death during the Onin war instantly popped into my head.
As the story progressed—Ciro’s story progressed— I had to find some way to do something with Osaki. I’d gotten so fond of him I couldn’t just leave him wandering between earth and Olympus needing to recharge every few hours.
I was a little nervous about making him gay. Why? People tend to be a little guarded when it comes to such iconic figures in their cultures. After I did all the research, and the more I wrote of Ciro’s story (through the numerous rewrites and re-edits) I fell more and more in love with Osaki and then that love outweighed all the nerves.
Wanna win a Totally Bound gift card? Tell me – if you could inherit anything from your parents, what would it be? Be original. This contest is open until Tuesday April 21st. I will pick the most interesting answers, put them in a box and have my talented niece pull a name.
Blurb for Osaki:
This is book two in the Shivers series, see the full series listing here
Once a samurai, always a Shiver…
Kofi Olabasu needs a vacation. He’s spent so much time looking out for his brother and working that he’s completely neglected himself. To make matters worse, feelings for a man are driving him crazy. The moment Kofi feels Osaki, he knows something is about to change. Confused about his attraction to Osaki, he agrees to take a vacation and accepts Osaki’s offer of being Kofi’s tour guide in Japan. However, nothing is as it seems. Soon every dark corner is filled with danger and those who wish to do him harm.
Osaki has a lot on his plate and love is the last thing he has time for. Not only does he have to get used to his new powers as a Shiver and all the training it involves, but he also finds himself being drawn to a human—though Kofi makes it clear he’s into women—and Osaki must respect the man’s wishes. All Osaki really has to do is focus on training and being the best tour guide possible for Kofi. But nothing ever goes as planned and soon rogue Shivers are popping out of the woodwork, hell-bent on destroying Osaki for his inheritance. It soon becomes quite clear that they want him dead, and they’re not afraid to use Kofi as leverage—or as collateral damage.
Publisher’s Note: This book is best read in sequence as part of a series.
About Remmy Duchene:
Multi-published Remmy Duchene was born in St. Anns, Jamaica and moved to Canada at a young age. When not working or writing, Remmy loves dabbling in photography, travelling and spending time with friends and family.
You can also follow Remmy on Twitter.