When writing historical mystery novels, an author needs to straddle the line between fact and fiction. When the novel involves a ninja detective, that line can grow very thin indeed.
By the 16th century, shinobi (ninja) clans held significant power in Japan. Assassins were feared and respected even by powerful samurai warlords, and the myth of the ninja already included “abilities” like the power to turn to smoke by force of will.
In truth, shinobi were as human as anyone else–though highly trained in stealth and covert tactics as well as weapons skills.
For those who want to know more, I’m starting a Friday series focused on historical “fact vs. fiction” looking at ninjas, samurai, and other parts of medieval Japan.
If you’d like to know more right now, I invite you to take a look at the author’s notes on my Fact vs. Fiction page — a launching point for the conversation about the differences, and difficulties, in writing about a fictitious ninja detective living in 16th Century Kyoto.