We had a wonderful time speaking with Bruna Porto, author of her debut English-language fiction title, Sea of Butterflies. The book is set during World War Two, in a Hirata house on the edge of Kyoto.

 

You can purchase a copy of Bruna Porto’s book here.

 

 

Your book has a very particular setting - Japan during World War Two. How did you come to set your work in this exact time and place?


I guess it all started when an acquaintance was talking to me and a friend about something that related to the subject of comfort women. I have never heard of it, so I found it very interesting and, gradually, started researching more about it, out of curiosity. I already had a title for the book prior to this, so I just thought of spreading this knowledge through a fiction story. Then the idea to set my novel at that place and time came suddenly – and I felt like it made sense, as we do not see many books set in Japan during those times, only Europe.

 


 

Another setting for your book is the 'comfort camps', places of profound subjugation for the female prisoners. Did you find it difficult to approach such a difficult and intricate topic?


I was very curious about this topic, so my focus was to share such historical facts with others. Therefore no – I did not find the theme difficult to study on, but rather unfortunate. The victims had extremely traumatic experiences, were scarred for their lives, and many of them passed away without justice. There are still some Korean comfort women alive, for instance, and they still fight for an apology. I just ask readers to approach the reading with a bit of caution.


 

 

Themes of revolution and independence are important to your story. Despite being set 80 years ago; how do you think your work reflects on our modern times?


We are currently seeing movements happening at this very moment in two distinct parts of the world – every day, we see in the news people fighting for freedom. I'd say, even if the geography changes, or even if the ethnicity or ideology of people are so far apart, history repeats itself.
 


 

Who are your literary inspirations? Could you draw parallels with other books (or any form of media or art) that relate to Sea of Butterflies?


As I am in Canada, I will mention one Canadian author that I admire: Margaret Atwood. She wrote the best-seller "The Handmaid's Tale", which also touches on the theme of freedom and females that are, to a certain degree, also prisoners in a society.

 

 

 

And finally, if we may, do you have any future book-writing plans?

 

Yes, I am currently developing another work-in-progress. However, this one is of a very different nature from Sea of Butterflies. I am still deciding on the theme, but this particular fiction fantasy is very soft – the times are different, the characters have different struggles, and the setting is in a completely different place as well. This book occurs nowadays, in Italy, and heavily focuses on character development. I hope to finish it soon, and hope people also enjoy it.