Prototypes for fictional characters come to a writer in many ways. The man who became the basis for Sherlock Holmes was Dr. Joseph Bell, a distinguished Scotch surgeon. Sir Arthur Doyle was a student of Dr. Bell’s at the Edinburgh University school. It was there that he became impressed by Dr. Bell’s remarkable powers of observation and deduction, through which he could diagnose illness almost on sight. Sir Arthur transferred these same abilities to Sherlock Holmes when it came to solving crimes.
We bring all this up because back in December, we did an interview with Naomi Hirahara, author of the Mas Arai series. (click Here for interview)
The character, Mas was based on her father, who was a gardener, like Mas, (and in fact, his name is her father’s spelled backwards). Isamu (“Sam”) Hirahara sounds like a remarkable man. He was born in California, but taken to Hiroshima, Japan as an infant. He was only miles away from the epicenter of the atomic-bombing in 1945, yet survived. Shortly after the end of WWII, her father returned to the States, where he went into the gardening and landscaping business in Los Angeles area.
Sam Hirahara knew his daughter had based a character on him. Recently, he passed away peacefully on January 18, 2012 after an prolonged illness at the age of eighty-two in his home. But thanks to his daughter, he will live on through his daughter’s tribute to him, in Mas Arai, a character who exhibits quiet strength and grace.
Be sure to check out the Mas Arai Facebook page, as we extend our sympathy to Naomi and her family on their loss.