6/2/13: Chumming with Lorna Suzuki
Welcome to Season 2: Episode 4 of Chumming with Sharky™ where viewers from every corner of the deep blue sea are treated to a small taste of talented authors from a myriad of genres. Today, I bring you the very talented Lorna Suzuki, author of the Imago fantasy series. The first three books are actually currently in development for a major motion picture trilogy. Now, on with the show . . .
I’ll spare you the pre-show chit-chat with the ‘Chumming with Sharky’ producer and get right to business. Actually, the truth is I sent him out to wrangle a couple of sharks that got loose from the shark tank. There’s no need to be concerned though . . . he’s got good health insurance. Anyway, I’m very excited to have Lorna Suzuki visit the shark tank today for a number of reasons. First of all, I’ve read the first of her many novels from the Imago fantasy series and loved it. These books have also been optioned for a major motion picture trilogy, which is very cool! The first movie based on the first book in the series A Warrior’s Tale is currently in pre-production. Please give a warm welcome to my Canadian friend and fellow author Lorna Suzuki.
[Applause from studio audience . . . those that the rogue sharks didn’t have for lunch]
[Lorna enters stage right with a tiger shark in a choke hold]
Thank you so much for inviting me here, Robert! As for this shark I brought for your tank, I used a modified safety pin tied to my long, braided hair to catch a smaller bull shark. I used it for bait to catch this big beastie for you! 😉
Ha! Lorna, you never cease to amaze me! (Tosses tiger shark into the tank) Well, now that we have that pesky tiger shark back into the shark tank where it belongs, how about we get our favorite bartender Anchor the Hammerhead to serve up some drinks. What’s your poison, Lorna? I’ll have whatever you’re having. It’s been a rough month, so the stronger the better.
Such a great host! Make mine a Rusty Nail; the drinkable kind made of Drambuie and whisky with a lemon peel twist, thank you very much.
Two Rusty Nails it is then . . . and a Tetanus Shot for later. (See what I did there?) 🙂
[Ariel the mermaid waitress serves Lorna and Sharky their drinks and then does several back flips towards the bar making martial arts sounds. We then hear a loud crash as Ariel flies over the bar. She hops back up claiming that she’s okay.]
Um . . . either Ariel has been getting into the sake or it’s time to do her psyche evaluation.
She’ll be fine! I think her scallop shell bra is just getting too tight, that’s all! You just have to worry if she takes to wearing it on her head!
She must have been hanging out at #Pubwrite, and speaking of pubs and wearing articles of clothing on your head (inside joke), I’d like to mention that Lorna and I first met a couple of years ago in a popular little pub called #Pubwrite, which was basically a place for writers to hang out and socialize on Twitter. Sadly, the quaint little bar was overrun by traveling salesman, and the fun conversations and crazy happenings that went along in the pub was drowned out by advertisements. This brings me to my first question involving social media and marketing. Twitter has become a very popular avenue for marketing products, including novels. Some people feel that Twitter should only be used for socializing and the marketing tweets should go away completely. Do you feel there is room for both, and what advice would you give new authors considering using social media as part of their marketing strategy?
First and foremost, I think Twitter should be used as it was meant to be, as a form of social media where we can connect with fellow authors and readers. There are those whose every single tweet is about where to buy their books and when it becomes a steady stream of links to where I’m to buy, then I unfollow. Generally, I don’t even bother following spammers. I think it’s all about balance. Over a 24-hour period, I’ll tweet about my books about 4 or 5 times in the day. I found it’s been helpful to keep it somewhere on my Twitter stream so it’s easy for people to find. I rarely get the DMs requesting a link for my books now because of this. Other than that, the rest of my tweets are mentions, RTs, and general ‘conversation’.
As for using Twitter to be social? I’ve had one author introduce himself with one of those: “I’m following you! Follow me back. Here is a link to my debut novel (add link). There was no “Hi, my name is so-&-so, nice to meet you” tweet. Just an outright follow me & here’s where you can buy my book tweet. In my opinion, it is downright rude. (Sharky: I get those ALL the time in my DMs and pretty much ignore my DM feed now).
You don’t introduce yourself like that in person. It is no different on Twitter. When I told him I don’t auto-follow and it was rude of him to make such a blatant request and not even introduce himself, I was made to deal with his wrath. I promptly blocked him than to get into a confrontation with him, but I did hear from my Twitter friends that he was tweeting terrible things about me and even attacked them for siding with my sentiments instead of his! He even had some of his friends send terrible tweets to me, telling people to unfollow me! (Sharky: Some people just go out of their way to be buttheads on social media. It’s why I try to stick to the old saying of, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” :-))
I read A Warrior’s Tale recently because I’m a huge fan of fantasy and I really enjoyed it. What can you tell us about the Imago series as a whole and what makes the world of Imago unique compared to the many other fantasy realms out there?
This epic fantasy series has an ensemble cast of characters, but the central character is a female warrior. She is half human and half elf, and being the only one of her kind, she’s shunned by one race and denied by the other. To make matters worse, she enters the male dominated arena of warriorship and suffers a long, hard climb to become a respected leader and captain, and all without using magic or possessing supernatural strength or powers! It’s also a coming of age story as she struggles to find acceptance and love in a world that has little tolerance for a halfling like her.
As for what makes it unique? I’d say for a fantasy, it is low on the use of magic to get the heroes out of trouble and in my imagined world, the female warrior is able to hold her own because of her years of martial arts training, not because she has been imbued with superhuman strength. Plus, as strong as she is physically and mentally, on an emotional level she has real issues grappling with her own self-esteem.
Most stories in film and novels tend to have male protagonists, and like you pointed out, in fantasy stories the female characters tend to have special powers that make them stronger and formidable. The protagonist in the Imago series is a female and really kicks ass, but without said powers. Tell us a little bit about Nayla Treeborn (without giving away any spoilers) and what makes her a protagonist that readers will enjoy following throughout the series.
That is very true! This is one of the reasons why I created Nayla Treeborn. She is basically an ordinary woman capable of extraordinary things because of her smarts, her tenacious spirit and her many years devoted to training in the warrior arts. And as tough as she is, she is also vulnerable and deeply flawed. There are times when not even all of her experience with martial arts is enough to prevent her from getting seriously hurt and even raped in one of the novels, nor is she so tough she is not above getting emotionally damaged. In her own mind, her greatest flaw is that of being half mortal & half Elf. Being rejected and dejected by most races throughout her life, this weighs heavily on her; especially how she views her own self-worth. This treatment through her life has led her to believe that she is not worthy of being loved. This also leads her to take incredible risks to prove her worth, taking on suicide missions no other warriors would consider because she doesn’t place that much value on her own life.
My team of highly-paid investigative guppy journalists (they’re paid in premium Tetra fish flakes) discovered your daughter was a huge inspiration for writing the Imago novels. Can you tell us a little bit about this and how the idea for the Imago series began?
Being a martial arts instructor, in the 30 years I’ve been a practitioner/teacher I’ve encountered many women who just assumed that being female meant you were not strong enough to protect yourself. It was after a martial arts seminar that the female students told me they never thought women could really fight until they saw me take on some very large male students. When I asked why they believed that, they said it was in their upbringing, culture and in the books they read (the women were always waiting to be rescued).
A quick trip to the bookstore revealed that many fantasy stories out there had female protagonists, but I had a real issue with most of them. There was an over-abundance of women that were only able to physically hold their own if they were imbued with supernatural powers. Either that, or they were waiting to be rescued by the hero. I wanted my daughter to read about a woman that was able to do the rescuing, and do so without special powers; relying on her wits and years of training to overcome her foes, no matter how big. In other words, I wanted my daughter to read about an ordinary woman capable of extraordinary things.
That’s awesome and certainly one of the many reasons the Imago series fan base has grown over the years, and now it looks like your story is on its way to hit the big screen, a dream that I think I can safely say any author would love to accomplish with their stories. I know there was a lot that went on with the process of landing this type of deal, but can you share with us briefly what it has been like to have A Warrior’s Tale go from a story initially written for your daughter to development into a major motion picture production?
Yes, the first three novels in the Imago Chronicles series have been optioned for a major motion picture trilogy for worldwide theatrical release. As for how this happened, I never intended to have a big screen adaptation made of my fantasy novels. Heck, back then, I wasn’t even considering a traditional publishing deal. I just had a story I wanted to share and I believed would have some meaning to my daughter when she grows up and I’m dead and gone. For me, I think it had a lot to do with the stars aligning and the powers-that-be smiling down on me. As you know, the executive producer happened to catch an interview I did on MTV. I was asked to talk about my novel and do a martial arts demo to show some of the stuff the female character could do. In this case, my book was used as a weapon and I guess you can say it piqued the executive producer’s interest. She ended up buying my books and reading them. She fell in love with the stories and characters and embarked on a three-year odyssey to negotiate a movie option agreement. So far, it’s been very exciting, but also very surreal at times.
Lorna Suzuki demo on MTV Select Canada
That is such an amazing story of how everything panned out for you! Without giving information that will result in my untimely death what can you tell us about the movie production?
At this stage, a screenwriter has been hired, the 1st draft of the screenplay has been written, a line producer has determined the budget based on the screenplay, 100% of the financing has been secured, and a very respectable, multi-Academy Award winning producer is coming on board as our production partner.
The other day I received the first color plates of the female warrior in full battle regalia and wielding some of her favorite weapons from the conceptual artist. I must admit it was very surreal to finally see Nayla in this image. It was nothing short of stunning and it will help set the tone for the movie as we steadily march toward full production later this year!
I wish I could share more details, but the production company’s PR dept. will be issuing a press release to the trade papers in the near future, and it would not be right for me to jump the gun on them and leak some very big, exciting news before they do.
Maybe after the press release I’ll invite you back to share some of that awesome news with our Chumming with Sharky fans, since a few of my sources suddenly disappeared while trying to investigate. Switching gears, my sources (yes, those highly trained guppies . . . at least what’s left of them) tell me that you not only are a talented author, but you are also quit the bad-ass yourself. Those poor little guppies barely escaped with their fins intact after discovering that you are specially trained in martial arts . . . something about Bujinky Judo Taifaitso (wait that doesn’t sound right) . . . Bunko Budo Tightropeso . . . um . . . Bunjie Jumpo Tall— oh, heck, why don’t help me out here? You know where I’m going with this. 🙂
Bad-ass?!? At my age? With this middle-age spread, it’s more like a fat-ass! 😉 I train/teach Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, a discipline that is the compilation of 6 traditional samurai schools and 3 schools of ninjutsu. It’s growing in popularity, but it’s not that well known outside of Japan because you’ll never see us doing the tournament circuit. Our style is all about self-defense. It is not a sport. We also train in a lot of weapons, my favorite being the tessen or iron fan and the naginata, a six-foot staff armed with a 2-foot blade. I also love how we will improvise and use just about anything, from a pen to a credit card, as a weapon.
Lorna Suzuki – Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu Demo
Ah, yes, that deadly credit card can be used for much more than damaging one’s financial well-being. 🙂 Lorna, it has been a great honor having you as a guest on Chumming with Sharky today. It’s been fun and I can’t wait to hear more about the Imago movie production. I’ll definitely be attending on opening day.
Before we part ways, by now fans of Chumming with Sharky (yep all five of you) know the drill. My guest isn’t allowed to leave (as if we could stop Lorna if we tried) until taking care of the little hypothetical scenario at the end of the show. Lorna, here’s yours:
You’re in a parking garage late at night and walking towards your car when you hear footsteps approaching you from behind. You’re carrying a bag with a couple of your books leftover from a book signing, a few book marks, and some pens. It’s cold this evening and you are wearing a scarf. You look over your shoulder and see a man dressed in dark clothing walking towards you. You continue walking with your car just a few yards away and then notice another man step out in front of you. Both men are tall and around the 180 to 200-pound range. The man in front moves toward you and pulls out a knife. He then smiles while twisting his knife around in an attempt to intimidate you. The other man then rushes towards you from behind. What do you do?
This is funny! I was once asked by my sensei to do a little demo. He called up two of the biggest guys in the dojo and told them both to attack me. When the first guy went to grab me, I went low and kicked him in his groin. As he doubled over, I threw him into the second guy charging toward me, to send both of them flying onto the mat.
In the scenario you presented, I’d cry out, “Please don’t hurt me! I’m just a girl” while I unsheathe my katana that is sure to make his knife look like a vegetable peeler! 😉
Paul Hogan’s line from Crocodile Dundee comes to mind: “That’s not a knife. This is a knife.” 🙂
Thank you so much for allowing me to chum the water with you, Robert! It was a blast!
The pleasure was all mine, Lorna. It was an honor to have you as a guest. Oh, and there’s one more order of business . . .
It’s time for a giveaway!
For those of you wanting a chance to win a deluxe pdf version of Imago Chronicles: Book One A Warrior’s Tale, please leave a comment to be entered into a random draw. If you already have a copy of this novel, you can also choose to win a deluxe pdf version of Lorna’s new YA fantasy novel The Dream Merchant Saga: Book One The Magic Crystal. The drawing will take place on Saturday, June 29 and announced on Sunday, June 30.
A fan of Alexandre Dumas of The Three Musketeers fame, Lorna Suzuki noticed that it was the men going off on great adventures, enjoying the camaraderie of a brotherhood while the women were portrayed as the damsels-in-distress.
In writing the Imago fantasy series, by adding a female protagonist, one that is reluctantly accepted into this brotherhood, the author drew on her own experiences as a woman in a once male-dominated field of law enforcement and martial arts to bring Nayla Treeborn the female warrior to life.
With 30 years experience in martial arts, Suzuki is a 5th degree black belt practitioner/instructor of Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, a system incorporating 6 traditional samurai schools and 3 schools of ninjutsu.
The 10th novel in the Imago series is planned for an October 2013 release and she is planning to write the 4th novel in The Dream Merchant Saga, a YA fantasy series co-written with her teenaged daughter, Nia!
Learn more about Lorna Suzuki and her novels by visiting her website:
Chumming with Sharky™ is a monthly spotlight series brought to you by Robert “Sharky” Pruneda, author of Victory Lane: The Chronicles and Devil’s Nightmare. If you would like to be a guest on Chumming with Sharky™ or you know someone who you think would like to be featured, please send an email to: ChummingwithSharky (at) gmail (dot) com or contact me via Twitter @SharkbaitWrites.
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