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  • Writer's pictureBaptiste Pinson

Behind the Curtain ~ Interview of Rōnin, Tadatomo, and Baptiste

The following interview contains bits of spoilers. Only read it if you've read Undead Samurai already.

Debbie: Rōnin, Tadatomo, Baptiste, let me start by congratulating the three of you for the release of Undead Samurai.

The 3: Thank you.

D: It’s been two months now, the pressure must be falling down a little.

Baptiste: Actually, you could say it’s rising up.

D: Oh, really?

B Yes! Readers had time to go through it and start sharing their thoughts here and there. Now is really the moment that will decide whether Undead Samurai becomes a thing or not.

D: So you’re saying now would be a great time for readers to drop their reviews?

B: Exactly!

Tadatomo: Smooth.

D: How about you Tadatomo, you don’t look unfazed at all. No pressure on your side?

Tadatomo sits a little straighter and readjusts his mic.

T: No, I must say I don’t crawl under the pressure. But then again, I’m not the main character of this whole thing. Playful glance toward Rōnin who snorts in laughter.

D: Not even as the fan favorite?

T: I am? I mean, of course, I am. Who else? Mister one-sentence dialogues here? Thumb pointed at Rōnin.

Rōnin: In case you didn’t check the last poll, Kiba is catching up with you, and his dialogues were even shorter than mine.

T: Mah! Wave down. It’s just a Mandalorian effect. Put a mask on a grumpy old man, make him care for a young, apparently weak character, and he immediately gets popularity points. No, even as a “fan favorite”, no pressure. 

B: It’s because he accepted the role by mistake. He doesn’t care much about it; the writer says smugly.

D: By mistake?

T: No, not exa—well, yes, by mistake, but not completely. Thank you, man… Baptiste raises his hands innocently. The thing is, I was originally auditioning for Miyamoto. I thought it went pretty well, but two days later my agent called me to let me know I didn’t get the role, and that I was in line for the role of a certain Honda character. She didn’t know more, so naturally I assumed it was Tadakatsu Honda. I got super excited. That guy’s the man! I basically agreed on the spot. Imagine my surprise when I arrived on set only to discover I was not playing Tadakatsu, but his drunkard son! All right, fair enough, the pressure vanished then.

D: So, is it fair to say it wasn’t a great experience?

T: Are you kidding? I loved playing Tadatomo. Such a funny fella. 

B: And don’t let this story fool you. He was very professional and hard-working. I’ve rarely met such a dedicated character. 

T: What do you want me to say? Tadatomo asks, leaning back and gathering his hands behind his neck. I don’t do it for me; I do it for the fans.

D: How about you, Rōnin? How did the audition go? You must have must have been thrilled when you received that phone call.

R: I was speechless you mean. The three days after the audition were the longest of my life. 

D: I bet. Going from unknown character to leading a book like Undead Samurai. That’s quite the success story. 

R: You could say that. Besides a few roles as an extra here and there, I was a rookie. So when I heard I got the role of Rōnin… I thought it was a prank.

D: Roles as an extra? Anything we might have seen?

R: As a matter of fact, probably. I appeared in three scenes of Dynasty Killers—

B: You did?!

R: I did, for the battle of Wan. If you check carefully, you can see me getting killed twice. I had a line where I went “No, don’t—” then “ugh”, dead, but they cut it out. 

B: I’m sorry, I didn’t even remember that.

R: It’s fine. There were hundreds of people all dressed up the same.

D: So from dying extra to sullen hero, not bad. And you, Baptiste, would you say the casting of Rōnin was obvious? I mean, anyone who read the book will agree he was perfect for this role.

B: Actually we had picked someone else to be Rōnin. A younger guy, muscular, handsome, the kind that could star in a superhero movie. The folks at Little Conqueror Press liked him, but I felt like he didn’t carry the aura I envisioned for the role of Rōnin, so I pushed back and we did another round of auditions. As soon as this one came in, I knew we got our Rōnin.

T: So, someone less muscular and handsome?

B: Not what I said. Turns toward Rōnin. Not what I said.

R: No offense taken.

B: But, yeah, that too.

T: Ha!

B: Just kidding. No, in all seriousness, when he entered the audition room, he looked nervous, and uncomfortable around people, just as Rōnin would be. But the moment we gave him a katana, boom, an artist full of confidence. We got really lucky for his novel, we hired only accomplished martial artists characters.

D: So you pushed the publishers at Little Conqueror for a recast. They must have been happy.

B: I’m sure they hate my guts, yeah! I don’t know if they’ll work with me again.

D: Unless Undead Samurai is a hit.

B: Unless it’s a hit, obviously. And I was joking, of course. The publishers were very supportive from the moment I bolted into their office with a vague idea of a crew of Japanese warriors fighting swarms of undead samurai.

D: Which brings me to my next question, how did you come up with this idea?

B: I’m not sure, actually. I always wanted to write something with zombies, and after four historical fiction books set in ancient China, I wanted to write something less serious. I think I was playing the Telltale game of The Walking Dead, and that was the trigger for me to start plotting this book. As for the Japanese side of the story, no idea, it was just obvious, though I have more stories to tell in the Undead universe, but set in other cultures.

D: So the publishers were fine with zombies, and with recasting the main character. Anything else you had to fight for?

B: Yes, actually there is. And this one was a hard sell. It’s about Tadatomo.

T: What did I do this time?

B: You were supposed to die much sooner.

T: I was?

B: Oh yes. Your character was supposed to get killed early on to set the tone. But when I heard you accepted the role—

R:—by mistake, he says behind his hand.

B: I went to the big guys and told them, “No, we’ve got such an amazing character to play Tadatomo, he has to stick around longer.” They were not convinced, so I spent the last two days before the first draft rewriting your scenes, adding some depth, then they relented and gave me the green light. 

T: Huh, I didn’t know that. Glad you did.

B: Me too. Plus, it would have been a little too 7 Samurai of us to kill the comic relief before the rest.

D: Ok, next question, for the three of you. Who was the hardest character to work with? 

T: Yūki. Without a doubt Yūki.

D: Why Yūki?

T: That woman does not know her strength. You can’t imagine how many props she broke during the action scenes. She sent two zombie extras to the hospital.

B: Well, they told her to go at it for real. They got it coming.

T: In any case, most of my action scenes were by her side, and let me tell you, I did not sleep well the nights before.

D: I’ll be sure to ask her about it during her interview. Rōnin?

R: Oh, Tadatomo.

T: Oh come on. Why would you say that? He asks, smirking.

R: Every scene we had together, whenever the action was focused on me, he would do that smirk—yes, that smirk, right there—to try to make me lose character. We had to redo a bunch of takes. In the scene in the forest, when Tadatomo asks my age, you can see me smiling. That’s for real. I was fighting it!

D: I thought it looked great.

R: Thank you, but, yeah, has to be Tadatomo.

D: Your answer, Baptiste?

B: Hums and looks at the ceiling.

T: Come on, say it, we all know who you’re thinking about.

B: Fine, Mikinosuke. Tadatomo claps his hands happily. I mean, nothing wrong with him as a character. He actually bluffed us several times. That scene in the abandoned hut after he discovers the truth about this master… That was intense as hell. He was fantastic there. Ronin nods and hums in agreement. But working with teenagers has its challenges.

T: And he also had this crazy growth spurt. 

R: Oh, yeah, that’s true!

B: Between the first line and the final clap, he must have grown a foot taller. Which made things complicated during the rewriting stage.

R: The scene with Tadatomo, Mikinosuke, and I walking toward Gifu, that’s mostly a rewrite, but because Mikinosuke has grown taller, Tadatomo and I had to wear shoes with thick soles. That’s why you never see our feet during that scene. 

D: I wish I had seen that.

B: I’m sure we have some footage.

T: God, no….

D: Did you keep anything from the drafting?

R: Baptiste allowed me to keep the katana.

T: Cool~

R: It now proudly rests on top of my TV

T: I “borrowed” the gourd. And let me tell you, it is not empty.

D: How about you, Baptiste?

B: A lot of good memories.

T: Oooh~ that’s cute.

D: What’s next for you Baptiste? Undead Samurai 2, perhaps?

R: Great question.

B: Yes and no. I am plotting the next book in this world, and, because one of the points that seemed to have pleased the readers is the cultural background, it will also be set in Japan.

T: Interesting~

B: And it will be a prequel.

T: Even more interesting~~~

D: Any chance we get to see those two gentlemen in it then? Both Rōnin and Tadatomo lean toward the writer.

B: My lips are sealed.

D: Fair enough. Last question, I interview Tsuki, Kiba, and Zenbō next. Anything specific I should ask them?

T: Ask Tsuki about the Tavern incident.

R: No! Rōnin waves his hands defensively.

Tsuki is a wonderful young woman, don’t ask her about the tavern incident. Her head might explode.

B: You’re gonna ask her, aren’t you?

D: Probably~ Anyway, that’s it for this interview. Thank you very much for your time. And you, dear readers, don’t forget to review Undead Samurai, come say hi to its creator, and enjoy his other books. This was Debbie from, coming back soon with more “behind the curtain” interviews.

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