Thursday, July 8, 2010

       Open the gate and enter into the fantasy world created by our guest author. Friends, thank you for stopping in to visit with us today. We're talking with Lorna Suzuki who lives in Canada and she has a series of wonderful books that have been compared to Lord of the Rings! Many have said it might even make a good movie series but we'll have to keep an eye on her future and see what happens. I've no doubt it will be great since she already has a few producers talking with her. After reading more about her and emailing a bit, I think she has an adventurous future in front of her.  Her characters are elves and wizards, but her main character is a very strong heroine, Nayla. Along with her friends in the series, they teach life lessons as well as entertain the readers. You won't want to miss getting started on her books!

Deanna: Lorna, it's a pleasure to have you with us today. I know how busy your schedule has been and still is. Tell us a bit about yourself that your readers might not know.

Lorna: Thank you so much for having me here today. What my readers might not know is that I have many years (25+) of martial arts experience. This has come in very handy when it comes to writing the battle and fight scenes.  Those who have read my books have told me these scenes are so well written they feel they are right in the middle of all the chaos. I’ve had one reader tell me that she typically glosses over these scenes in other novels as she just couldn’t get into them, but she’s actually been studying these scenes in my books as it’s told from a female’s perspective. She said it’s been helpful as she writes her own novel.

Deanna: What made you want to become a writer?

Lorna: I never set out to be a writer; I actually wanted to be a veterinarian or park ranger when I was growing up. Professionally, I’ve been writing for years, mostly corporate and educational material. In the last few years, my writing had turned to biographies and one of the biographies I wrote for Life & Times Production aired on the Biography Channel the other year. Right now, I’m writing voice over scripts for a TV series called West Coast Adventures that is airing right now on KCTS-9.
      As for writing fantasy, relatively speaking it’s fairly recent. To make a long story short, I was teaching at a martial arts seminar. Being the only female instructor, I always used the largest guys in the club for demos to prove you don’t need to be big or strong to take someone down.
      When I was done, I had women participants come up to me. They told me how they never thought women could really fight until they saw me in action (I’m less than 5 feet tall). When I asked them why, they told me it was in their upbringing, in their culture and in the books they read. My first thought was: “I don’t want my daughter reading about women waiting to be rescued. I want her to read about women doing the rescuing.”
      A quick jaunt to the local bookstore showcased female characters, however, if they were able to physically hold their own, they had supernatural powers so they could kick butt. They were all Xena Warrior Princess/Buffy the Vampire Slayer types. I wanted to create a more realistic character that is basically an ordinary woman made to face extraordinary circumstances, but uses her wits and skills to overcome evil than to rely on superhuman or supernatural powers to hold her own.
     This was the event that planted the seed of creativity, but it was a matter of finding time to write fantasy. Then one day, I had a job to go to; the next, I was let go. I began writing the first book in the Imago series on Feb. 7, 2002.

Deanna: Do you write under a pen name?

Lorna: Nope! I am L. T. Suzuki and my new YA fantasy series I collaborated on with my daughter will also be published this fall under my real name.

Deanna: Is there a certain type of character that is easier to write than another?

Lorna: In my opinion, whether it is the protagonist or antagonist of the story, if you know the character well: his history, behavior, motives, etc. it’s easy to write. The hard part is to take all this info and create a character the readers can relate to and blend in certain qualities that allow them to break the stereotype of hero or villain. Another element a writer must consider is remaining true to the character in terms of making sure they do not deviate in their behavior or actions in any given situation. Something like this can really piss off (can I say this?) the readers.

Deanna: Do you read in the same genre that you write in?

Lorna: I tend to follow Terry Brooks advice about reading. I learned a lot from this author and one thing Mr. Brooks said at a workshop he was teaching is that if you write fantasy, read anything else but fantasy. His reasoning is that there’s sometimes a tendency for writers to accidentally copy elements from what they’re reading and weave them into their story. I also think there’s a possibility of trying to copy the voice or story telling style of an author they admire.
      So, yes, I do read fantasy, but only when I am not writing (on vacation) and I’m a sucker for stories about King Arthur, Robin Hood and The Three Musketeers.

Deanna: Is there other random stuff you might want readers to know?

Lorna: I loved Peter Jackson’s interpretation of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but I’ve never read the books. This will sound strange, but when I saw the 1st movie, at the end when Samwise and Frodo are gazing off toward Mount Doom and the audience were applauding, I said out loud “What? That’s it?”
      People near me started laughing and my husband whispered: “Ah, this is a part one of a trilogy…”
      He then bought me Tolkien’s books, and I made an attempt to read it, but for some reason, I couldn’t even get through the first chapter.  I ended up flipping through searching through segments to see if Samwise & Frodo survive to the end. I think it was a literary masterpiece that was too intellectual for me! LOL!
      Odd thing is, some people who have read my books have made comparisons to LoTR. I’m hoping they mean in terms of it being an epic fantasy because I don’t think anyone writes like J.R.R. Tolkien and unless I missed it flipping through the pages, I don’t think his books had the same level of adult content.
      One day, I’m hoping someone does an interview with the female protagonist, Nayla Treeborn.
      I always begin a new writing project on the 7th day of the month.
      For the last five novels in the Imago fantasy series, I wrote the ending first before I began writing the first chapter.
      My favourite weapons I train with are the naginata (6 foot staff armed with curved blade on one end) and the tessen (iron fan). These weapons are also Nayla’s favourite weapons too and she’s way better than I am, especially with the swords. I only attain this level of greatest in my dreams.
      Some of the brawls Nayla has gotten into are based on actual fights I’ve gotten into in my younger days and when I was learning martial arts. Now I understand the meaning of learning to fight so I don’t have to.
      I have almost as many male readers as I do females, but for some reason, where men are eager to tell me what they thought of the books, it’s usually the female fans who take the time to send reviews.
      I initially intended to write only two books, three tops in the Imago series. The subsequent titles happened because the fans kept asking for more.
      Originally, I was going to kill off Nayla in the last book, but due to the outcry from both my literary agent and a film producer, not to mention some of the fans whom I shared this info with,I decided not to kill Nayla. I just never realized how attached the readers were to this character and some of the fans were verrrry angry that I would even contemplate ending her life.

Deanna:  Do you have a proud moment as a writer?

Lorna: One of my proudest moments as a writer? At a writers conference I had a one-on-one editing session with Jack Whyte (one of my favourite authors of Arthurian legends). After reading some of my pages and making some suggestions to tighten the prose, he said: “This is really very good! Keep it up!” Coming from an author I respect, it meant a lot to me.

Fastest novel to write: Imago Book One: Tales from the West. It took me exactly one month to write this one.

Easiest novel to write: Imago Book Three: A Warrior’s Tale. I already knew all the details of Nayla’s history when I wrote Book One that it was basically like documenting an event from the past.

Hardest to write: Imago Book Four: The Tears of God. From an emotional standpoint, it was so hard because what happens in this book is every mother’s worst nightmare come true.

Most challenging to write: Imago Book Seven: The Broken Covenant. Due for release this October, it is the last book in the series so it has to be better, if not one of the best, in the series. The characters are immersed in a mystery and confronted by a killer unlike any they’ve encountered. I wanted to take the readers on one last quest that stood out from all the others. In this final novel, I feel the characters and readers will have some form of closure when this last adventure comes to an end.

Deanna:  Where can readers find out more about you and your books?

Lorna:  Here are just a few:

Lorna's Website - Imago Fantasy Realm

Twitter - @LornaSuzuki  and at #Naylafans - be sure to join this on Twitter!
To follow, just log in and enter #Naylafans into the search box on the right hand side of the Twitter site. When #Naylafans comes up, you can save the search and check on the latest talk and news. If you use TweetDeck, you can add the column to your feed as well. If you want to talk about Lorna Suzuki’s Imago series, just include #Naylafans in your tweet.

Be sure to check out Lorna’s other fantastic interviews and learn more:
  1. Mark of the Stars     July 5, 2010
  2. JoJo’s Book Corner     June 2, 2010
  3. Silverthorn Press