Hey there everyone.
I’m extremely excited to introduce you all to an incredible author who has written two well imagined Fantasy series that span many brilliant books and contain intriguing, endearing and very capable female protagonists to look up to.
A very warm welcome then to Lorna Suzuki, as she kindly delves into her writing world and aspects of her own writing life.
Hi there, Lorna, a sincere pleasure to have you here today to discuss your books, along with your own passions, influences and writing experiences.
Hello, David! Thank you for inviting me.
Let’s start first with your Fantasy novel series “Imago Chronicles”, an exciting, deep, immersive collection with eight books and two prequels for us to dive into! Tell us more about the plot and themes of your series, along with giving us some background information on what is at stake for your protagonists and antagonists, plus providing us with an insight into the world that they inhabit too.
With 10 books in this series and each story quite different from the other, it’s impossible to speak about 1 specific book to describe them all. The film producer who had originally optioned rights for a film trilogy described Imago Chronicles as Lord of the Rings and 300 meets the Last Samurai. It has an ensemble cast of characters with a main female protagonist. Nayla Treeborn is half Elf and half human. She is the only one of her kind in this world and because she was never meant to be, she is shunned by one race and denied by the other. The first novel in the series, A Warrior’s Tale, is about Nayla’s struggle to find her place in a world that refuses to accept her. A troubled relationship with her father, a high-ranking Elf, has her fleeing for her life to a secret village where her mother’s people dwell.
As far as Nayla’s antagonist goes, there are many. Between a rogue Wizard, a violent father, society in general, and dealing with sexism, misogyny, and racism, she is opposed by numerous forces! A Warrior’s Tale is about her trials and tribulations to become a trained assassin. First motivated by revenge, it becomes a journey to self-acceptance as Nayla rises through the military ranks to become a skilled warrior and a respected captain.
You also have another Fantasy series of novels called “The Dream Merchant Saga”. Can you tell us more about the characters and plots of this series, along with the similarities/differences to your Imago Chronicles series?
The biggest difference between the Dream Merchant Saga and Imago Chronicles is that DMS is a YA fantasy, while Imago was written for a mature reading audience. Where Imago has passages of graphic violence, adult content, and is a much darker, more intense read, DMS was deliberately written to be funny. Where Nayla Treeborn is hardworking and honest and has experienced the hardships and cruelties of life, using her smarts and resourcefulness to survive, Princess Rose is quite the opposite.
Rose is crippled by a sense of self-entitlement and has no qualms about using her title and privilege to get what she wants when she wants it. She doesn’t understand the difference between want and need, so when she comes into possession of a magical crystal that can make all her wishes come true, she learns the hard way that there are consequences for her actions and sometimes, dreams can quickly become nightmares when one of her first wishes sees her driven out of the palatial setting of her castle.
At times, Rose can become her own worst enemy and her comrades struggle to keep her on the straight and narrow, which is a challenge unto itself!
Where Nayla is easy to like and sympathize with, Rose is one protagonist that readers have told me they love to hate. They enjoy seeing her struggle with the realities of life as a commoner.
If you could invite any one of your characters to dinner, which one would it be and what would you cook for them?
Now this is an interesting question! I love so many of the characters in all my novels. Alas, I’ve been accused of being a serial killer, smiting some of the fan favourites! Can I pick a character I’ve killed off? Or must this character still be alive at the end of the series? Too many to choose from!
I understand that the first three novels of your Imago Chronicles Series are currently being adapted for a TV series. Who would be your dream cast in the lead roles? Also, the same question for your The Dream Merchant Saga series, if it were to be made into a film or TV series, whom would you cast in the lead roles?
Since the property was first optioned a number of years ago, it’s gone through many changes. At one point, an Oscar-winning producer and his production team had signed on, but it doesn’t take much for a project that has received funding and into pre-production to suddenly have a wheel fall off.
In this business, if one wheel falls off, the entire project can come to a screeching halt. At this time, Imago is in the hands of another executive producer based in New York whose specialty is in film financing.
We both agree that Imago is a story better told as a cable series instead of a film trilogy. As for casting, when I was first broached on this subject I have to admit I envisioned an actor like Kristin Kreuk in the role of Nayla Treeborn. Ms. Kreuk is bi-racial like Nayla, so at first glance, it’s difficult to identify her race. She is also petite with the delicate features of an Elf, but she has the physical ability and skills to take on challenging fight scenes.
As for the role of Princess Rose? There are so many young, talented ladies out there, and though she is described as beautiful and fair of skin and hair, Rose is also an attitude. It would take a physically beautiful young actor that can play Rose, but she will need to do it with arrogant confidence, sass and comedic timing.
What would you choose as your own personal mascot or spirit animal when it comes to you and your style of writing?
If I had a spirit animal, with the first 12 or 13 novels I’d have to say it would be the elusive, stealthy snow leopard. Present but rarely seen, moving swiftly and quietly until it strikes. I wrote the first Imago novel in 1 month, often working late into the night. Churning out a draft in 3 to 6 months was not uncommon. As I age, I found my spirit animal is more sloth than leopard. It took a year or two to write my 14th and 15th novels (books 4 and 5 of the Dream Merchant Saga).
What do you think most characterizes or defines your writing? Do you have any writing quirks or themes that constantly crop up in your stories?
I’ve been told what makes my fantasy really stands out is that the fight scenes are grounded in reality, which is nice, as I have extensive experience in martial arts, but as far as quirks or themes? I suppose I do have some.
Because of my background in natural history and conservation work there are some underlying messages of what we’re doing to our world as witnessed by the Elves, the protectors of the natural realm.
What do you find the most difficult thing about writing? And what do you find the easiest?
Through the 15 novels I’ve written, coming up with ideas is the easiest part of the process. The most difficult part is after that story is written. It’s a challenge to edit the MS and do so effectively! You have to be able to separate yourself from your work and really scrutinize it as a reader, and then take all the feedback and all you’ve learned as a writer to edit the MS. That means paring it down and tightening the prose, while staying true to the story, faithful to your characters, and retaining your voice so you can give readers a smooth, page-turning read that will make them want to come back for more.
Who are some of the authors, musicians, poets and/or historical figures that inspire you?
One of my first writing teachers was the ‘father of modern day fantasy’, Terry Brooks. He had provided some of the best lessons/writing advice for several years, as I immersed myself in the process. He was one of the first to congratulate me when Imago Chronicles was optioned. He was very supportive and understood the whole film optioning business, as he had a deal in to works at the time, too.
Do you listen to music when you are writing and if so, then what type of music do you listen to?
I do like music playing in the background as I write, and my taste is quite eclectic, ranging from Vivaldi and Mozart to Billy Idol and Imagine Dragon, but what I listen to depends on what I’m writing, as music can really help set the mood for a scene.
What sort of research do you do to write your books?
I really am one of those writers that follows the old adage: Write what you know.
With this in mind, I’ve trained/taught martial arts for over 35 years and being a 5th degree black belt, I do try to give the fight/battle scenes a gritty, realism. Also, much of Nayla’s experiences in terms of racism and child abuse, as well as misogyny and sexism are loosely based on some of my personal experiences in law enforcement back in the late ’70s when I was only 1 of 2 women in our entire province carrying a badge and upholding the law for the Federal Dept. of Fisheries and Ocean. It was very much an old boys’ club and my presence was not well received by many of the officers I worked with.
Why do you write? What inspired you to become a writer?
Imago Chronicles has a somewhat morbid beginning. I was only 9 when my mother died at the age of 39. So many questions were left unanswered, and when you experience death at such a young age, some of us grow up thinking our lives will be cut short, too.
When I turned 39, I began a journal for my then-infant daughter, sharing in some of my experiences dealing with racism, male chauvinism, etc. Then one day, while taking part in a martial arts seminar, the female participants, many of whom had signed up for this seminar with little to no fighting experience, approached me after I was called up to do a demonstration where I simultaneously fought two of the largest male practitioners in our club.
After I was done, these women said to me that they never knew a woman could really fight until they saw puny me take on two big guys. When I asked why they thought it was not possible, these women said: “It’s in our upbringing, our culture, even the books we read. Women can’t fight back. They must be rescued.”
Flipping through numerous books, indeed, women were portrayed as the damsel-in-distress waiting for a knight in shining armour. If they were able to hold their own, they could only do so if they had super-human powers or used magic, like Xena, Warrior Princess. And more often than not, these ‘capable’ women were evil, if they are able to take on a male opponent!
At that moment, I thought: “There’s no way I want my daughter growing up reading about women waiting to be rescued! I want to her to read about a female hero that is able to rescue herself and others by her skills, wit, and natural abilities. Nayla Treeborn was created with this in mind.
What keeps you motivated during creative slumps? How do you deal with Writers Block?
During the writing of 15 novels, I’ve never really experienced writers block. It was more of a creative hurdle to clear, in terms of figuring out how to get the characters from point A to point B in a coherent, cohesive manner that keeps the story moving forward. During these challenges, I’ve found my best ideas usually came when I’d go for a walk to clear my head and rearrange my thoughts and ideas.
You have access to a time machine. What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t become a writer! Your works will go unappreciated and unnoticed, while the majority of those who will read them will just steal your stories from pirating sites because, as one such person justified this to me, “Art should be free”.
Stick with the martial arts! LOL! And if you do go the literary route always remember that no matter how many people love your stories, grow a thick skin because there will always be those who will dislike, even hate, your work. Many bestselling authors can attest to this. All you can do is put out the best possible story that you can and write the stories that mean something to you and your fans, as trends come and go quickly.
How do you spend your free time when you are not writing?
Even though I said I’d retire from martial arts when I hit my 50th birthday, a decade later and I still train, as much as 5 days a week. I also play guitar, enjoy drawing images of wildlife, baking copious amounts of cookies, pies and cakes to feed to my friends, as well as travelling and hiking about while exploring the great outdoors with my family.
What are your views on audiobooks and would you consider having your novels made into audiobooks?
I can see the virtues of audiobooks, especially on a long commute or for those who are visually impaired. Even though my books are available in print and as ebooks, I’m a bit old-fashioned. I like the feel of a book in my hands.
I found an as author, for the longest time I struggled with texting and Twitter. Everyone was abbreviating things, ignoring basic rules of punctuation, using emojis to express feelings/actions, and deliberately modifying words to condense a message.
Where I can see the need, especially on Twitter, where you’re limited to the number of characters for a post, my old brain likes proper punctuation, spelling, and so on. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think abbreviated writing when texting or tweeting will eventually make cursive writing and proper spelling obsolete. With this in mind, because people seem to like ‘fast and easy’, will audio books eventually lead to fewer ebooks and print books being read because it’s easier to listen to an audiobook? Maybe.
I just wonder about this because I’ve had a few male friends tell me that they’ll just wait for the film or cable series to come out, as it’ll be easier than reading my books!
Tell us more about your upcoming projects. Are you working on anything specific or have plans in the pipeline?
After 15 novels, I think it’s time to retire my writing career. I am hoping that 2020 is the year I can focus on further developing Imago Chronicles for a cable series, but who knows what will happen. All I know for sure is that if my next novel is not as good or better than the last, I’m not about to subject my loyal readers to crap. I’d rather hang up my keyboard.
Finally, are there any nuggets of wisdom that you can impart to other aspiring writers?
Over the course of my writing career I’ve attended a number of writing conferences and I’ve also been invited as a panellist or to teach writing workshops. I found I could only share in what works best for me. Those sharing in my knowledge can glean what they can and use what is most useful to them, but every writer must carve a path that works best for them.
Writing takes discipline. Writing is hard work. Don’t follow trends. Instead, write the stories that mean the most to you, in your own voice.
And that’s a wrap! Thank you so much for all of this wonderful and entertaining insight into your writing, we all can’t wait to start explore your Fantasy worlds very soon 🙂
Thank you, David!
When Lorna Suzuki is not writing the next installment of the Imago series or her new Young Adult Fantasy Series, The Dream Merchant Saga, she is a scriptwriter specializing in biographic documentaries for TV.
With over thirty-five years experience in various forms of martial arts, Suzuki is a 5th-dan practitioner and instructor of Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, a martial arts system incorporating six traditional samurai schools and three schools of ninjutsu under Japanese Soke, Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi. Although Budo Taijutsu has a very long and rich history in Japan and is steeped in tradition, is only now growing in popularity.
Practitioners of Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu do not compete in the sports arena as the techniques incorporated into this system are used strictly for self-defense, never as a sport. To learn more about Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, please visit Shihan Phillip Legare’s website at www.shinkentaijutsu.com.
She resides in the suburbs outside of Vancouver, BC with her husband Scott White, a talented videographer and Bujinkan Shidoshi, and her charming, teenaged daughter Nia.
You can connect with Lorna via the following Social Media channels:-
Website:- IMAGO BOOKS FANTASY REALM
You can buy Lorna’s books here:-
If you too would like to be interviewed on my blog at TooFullToWrite and you have a book or a series of books that you would like us to chat about then fill out the Contact Me form here with your details and we can arrange a future interview slot.