Today, I’m honored to host author and martial artist Lorna Suzuki, whose fantasy series THE IMAGO CHRONICLES have been optioned for a major motion picture trilogy!
I met Lorna through Twitter, where we connected over a mutual love of writing and martial arts, and a deep respect for the true historical ninja (aka, “shinobi”). I’m honored Lorna could join us today to share a little more about her writing and inspirations.
Lorna Suzuki is a martial arts practitioner/instructor with 30+ years experience in a discipline based on 6 traditional samurai schools and 3 schools of ninjutsu. When not teaching, she is the creator of the epic adult fantasy series, the Imago Chronicles and the YA fantasy series, The Dream Merchant Saga that she co-writes with her teenaged daughter. The first three novels of the Imago Chronicles have been optioned for a major motion picture trilogy with a two-time Oscar-winning producer on board for worldwide theatrical release in late 2015.
‘Imago Chronicles: Book One, A Warrior’s Tale’ begins at the height of the turmoil that shall determine if indeed there will be a Third Age of Peace. Besieged by the enemy from the east and now immersed in war with solders of the Dark Army from the west, Nayla Treeborn and her People are about to engage in the next great war that will decide the fate of all mankind and Elves in Imago.
In a desperate attempt to deliver word to the Elf King of Wyndwood and those of the old alliance for a call to arms, she is the last surviving messenger sent forth by her people. Now, trapped in a storm at the top of the world, she fights to survive the deadly elements in a strange land.
Despised by Elves and shunned by mortals, she must now find the courage to make a place in this world, and the compassion to save those who keep her at arm’s-length. This adventure recounts the defining moments in her life that had forged her into a deadly warrior, a great captain and a legend amongst the people of Imago.
And now, with no further ado, let’s hear from Lorna!
Where did you grow up? Will you share a favorite story from your childhood?
Both my parents were born in the 1920s and raised in the Greater Vancouver area in British Columbia, Canada, as I was many, many decades ago. Growing up, as a child I loved the Mother West Wind stories and as a teen, I remember reading for the first time Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers, but most of my fiction reading turned to research as I had a strong interest in natural history, botany, and zoology. I knew in high school I wouldn’t have the opportunity for a university education, so I studied a lot of textbooks and encyclopedias (there was no internet way back when). This was done so I was able to compete with university grads for various jobs.
What inspired you to write THE IMAGO CHRONICLES?
The short answer? I didn’t want my daughter reading about the damsel-in-distress waiting to be rescued. I wanted her to read about women doing the rescuing, but not relying on supernatural powers or superhuman strength to do this. I wanted her to read about a strong female that was able to rise above adversity using her smarts, skills and training.
If you could go back in time and share one writing lesson with “new writer you” before starting your first manuscript … what would that be?
Take the time to hone your writing skills so you’re putting out your best possible story! And don’t be afraid of critique groups and beta readers that can give you constructive feedback. Also know that your best possible story may be loved by many, but no matter how good it is, you will never be able to please everyone, so learn to accept it as the nature of the writing business.
You are a 5th Dan instructor of Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, and study under Grand Master Maasaki Hatsumi, who is considered a living national treasure in Japan. How does your writing reflect your experiences as a martial artist?
Although I’ve had the good fortune of training in Japan under Hatsumi Sensei, my official Shihan is Phillip Legare. He is a 4-time recipient of the Golden Dragon medal presented by Hatsumi Sensei and is the head of the Bujinkan Taka Seigi Dojo. He is a 15th Dan Instructor who has spent many years in Japan training directly under Hatsumi Sensei’s supervision. As for writing as a martial artist, I’d say my female protagonist and I have shared experiences knowing how it feels to be emotionally and physically beaten up. I think we also know about surviving and using martial arts to channel our energies. Many who study ninjutsu recognize my character’s fighting style, and many who study martial arts have commended me on writing great fight/battle scenes. And I hate to admit this, but some of the brawls the female protagonist gets into are loosely based on some fights I’ve been in.
Do you have a favorite author, book, or genre? If so, who (or what) is it, and why?
I follow the advice shared by my favourite writing mentor, Terry Brooks: When I write fantasy, I tend not to read in the same genre. Because of this, I tend to read historical fictions by Jack Whyte, C.C. Humphreys and, of course, Alexandre Dumas.
THE IMAGO CHRONICLES tell the story of Nayla Treeborn, who must find her place in a world torn by war. What are your favorite aspects of Nayla’s fantasy world?
Not unlike our real world, Nayla must deal with racism, sexism, male chauvinism, and religious intolerance, but what I like the most about her world, as harsh as it is, is that there are men who are genuinely chivalrous and know and understand the true meaning of honour, loyalty and friendship. When you watch the nightly news or read the newspapers, these are qualities that have lost their meaning or are considered irrelevant in this day and age. Perhaps that’s why I was always drawn to stories about King Arthur or the Musketeers, theirs was an age where honour and integrity had value.
Do you have a favorite scene or section from THE IMAGO CHRONICLES? If so (and if you can tell us about it without revealing any spoilers!), what makes that scene stand out for you?
With ten novels in this series, each book has a scene that stands out in my mind, so it’s tough to pick that single one.
What’s next for you as an author? Do you have a work in progress or in the plotting phase?
The Imago Chronicles is complete with 10 novels in the series. As this first of the 3 novels to be optioned heads toward film production with Oscar-winning producer Don Carmody at the creative helm (here’s a sampling of some of his most notable films http://doncarmody.com/show-reel.php if you’d like to take a peek) I’m writing the 4th novel in my YA fantasy series The Dream Merchant Saga. It’s a very different, humorous spin on fantasy that I co-write with my teenaged daughter, Nia. I’ve had a number of readers describe it as Ella Enchanted meets The Princess Bride and even though it was written for a YA audience, adult men have been having a good chuckle reading the first three novels in the series!
Writing a series involves special challenges for the author. What did you find most difficult—and most fun—about writing THE IMAGO CHRONICLES?
This series, when you include the two prequels, Imago Prophecy and Imago Legacy, spans over 1000 years of this fantasyland’s history and the lives of an ensemble cast of characters. The most challenging aspect was making sure everything was following a proper timeline, especially when the novel split into two or three storylines that had to merge back into one. Being a martial arts instructor, the most fun (and easiest) scenes to write were the big battle scenes as well as the one-on-one conflicts.
And now, the speed round:
Plotter or pantser?
Plotser (I loosely plot out each chapter and pants my way through the pivotal scenes to get to the end.)
Coffee, tea, or bourbon?
Coffee spiked with bourbon.
Socks or no socks?
Cats, dogs, or reptiles?
For dinner: Italian, Mexican, Burgers or Thai?
Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog, Susan! I had fun answering these questions! I hope your readers will follow me on Twitter (@LornaSuzuki) for literary events I’m a part of, as well as the latest film news or visit me at my official website: http://www.newmobileme.com/imagochronicles9.
Thank you, Lorna, for joining us today! I hope my readers will check out your website and THE IMAGO CHRONICLES, as well as your other works! It’s been an honor and a pleasure having you with us!