Friday, July 27, 2012

Meet Author Lorna Suzuki

Lorna T. Suzuki, Author of Imago series.
Publishing is changing daily, but well written fascinating stories will always be  in demand. The opportunities we encounter as writers sometimes are by chance, others by design, but no matter how it comes about--as a writer you must seize the opportunity when and where it occurs.

I met Lorna, by chance. I caught one of her tweets, and read an interview with her and I knew I had to talk to her myself. She is self-published and her first book is being made into a movie (how utterly cool is that?!). I wanted to know how she did it, why she started writing--and what made her who she is. I couldn't fit all of that in this interview--but believe me, I fully intend to have her back. She is a fascinating, gracious woman and I am truly pleased to have her here to day.

Welcome to Romance Magicians Lorna!  Like I said I have so much to ask, its hard to decide where to start...so, lets start at the beginning:

Tell us a bit about your series--Imago. How many books are in the series?
The Imago Chronicles consists of seven novels, plus two more books, Imago Prophecy and Legacy, forming the prequels leading up to Imago Chronicles: Book One, A Warrior’s Tale. With an ensemble cast of characters, it features a female protagonist, Nayla Treeborn. Half human and half elf, she is denied by one race and shunned by the other, and to make matters worse, she immerses herself in the male-dominated arena of warriorship. Each novel is a very different story of her trials and tribulations trying to fit into a world that is rather intolerant of a halfling. You totally had me intrigued by her--just by her lineage and having to face adversity.

I was told what makes her unique amongst fantasy heroines is that she has no supernatural powers or superhuman strength. Instead, she is an ordinary woman faced with extraordinary circumstances, using her skills and smarts to defeat her opponents. This is fascinating--because I am guilty of writing heroines who have an ability--but this is very different. I like that.

The book soon to be a major motion picture!
While Nayla is a very intelligent, capable warrior, she is far from being infallible. There are events in this fantasy series that push her to the physical and mental breaking point, so readers are exposed to her vulnerable side, too. Which I think is important--because how you deal with it, survive it is just as important in how you fight it. I have this book and only just begun to read it. :)

Did you self publish it, go with an epublisher, or one of the big six? (and if you ePub'd it or self pubbed it--why?)   I initially chose to self-publish because it never occurred to me to publish through a traditional publisher. I was interested in doing nothing more than create a lasting gift for my daughter when she grows up. And that spoke to me on a very visceral level, because I have two daughters and what a legacy you have created.

I originally published in 2002 via Trafford, but I’ve basically pulled all my titles from this POD company, opting to go totally indie. I now make my print books available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, even through Coutts Library Services here in Canada via Lightning Source (they are partnered with book distributor, Ingrams). I make my ebooks available on Amazon and Smashwords, while the deluxe pdf version (looks just like the print books, complete with graphics, maps, pronunciation key, etc.) is available for purchase via my website. I bought this book on Amazon. I love your world building--that is what totally grabs me as reader and writer.

Since 2002, I’ve had couple nice multi-book deals offered by traditional publishing companies, but I turned them down. One came from Jessie Finkelstein who was an editor with Raincoast (the publisher of the Harry Potter series in Canada), but she asked if I’d be willing to rewrite the Imago series for a YA audience. I declined. This is what really, truly impresses---that you know yourself, your writing and you stand firm. I admire this. I think it can be easy to sacrifice this for that road to get published by a big traditional firm.  

Do you have an agent? if so who? If not, why? (I ask this because there are so many roads to publication)  I did have agents in the past. The last one was Jenoyne Adams of Bliss Literary Agency. She was a bestselling author and respected agent making some very impressive multi-book deals with some of the largest publishing companies in the USA. Eventually, we parted company when she dropped out of the literary/publishing scene. I used a wonderful entertainment attorney, Kim Roberts of Roberts & Stahl to negotiate my film deal. What made this work out so well for me is that Mr. Roberts is also a producer with Sepia Films so he has first hand knowledge when it comes to optioning moving rights. I like knowing that it is possible to move forward with or without an agent--but it is important to have someone who knows the business, especially a lawyer. I have more questions about this--but I will save this for a later interview. (See my diabolical plan to bring you back here?) 

What was the hardest thing for you to write? The easiest?  Hardest thing to write is great poetry. This, I dare not attempt! The easiest? I’d say writing epic fantasies are easier than poetry or writing a great short story or novella. I'm going to agree with you there. :) 

You are in the process of having the first in your series made into a movie--tell us a bit about this--did you have to shop it around?  Yes, my first three epic adult fantasy novels have been optioned for a major motion picture trilogy. A Warrior’s Tale is in development now! As for shopping it around? No, I wasn’t even seriously considering publishing on the traditional front when I started writing fantasy. I had a number of producers interested in optioning rights to this series, but for the executive producer, Michy Gustavia (she eventually negotiated rights), it was quite by accident she discovered my novels. Luck and destiny conspired, working in my favour when she happened to see an interview I did on MTV. I was doing a martial arts demo and talking about this novel. I suppose using my book as a weapon stuck in her mind. She bought the books and fell in love with the characters and stories. See, I call this chance! And I am intrigued about your martial arts (another thing I want to explore in another interview) and how it is incorporated into your stories.

With her connections to those in the film industry, Michy Gustavia brought on her friend, producer Ari Lantos of Serendipity Point Films (best known for the Oscar nominated Eastern Promises starring Viggo Mortensen and Golden Globe winners Barney’s Version and Being Julia). With these two young, dynamic producers at the helm, I’m confident A Warrior’s Tale is in good hands! You totally had me at "Eastern Promises" I *love* that movie. Viggo inspired my current hero...so I am even doubly excited about this movie of yours. This is truly phenomenal.  

Are you writing the screenplay or assisting?  I’ve been hired as the creative consultant. As for writing the screenplay? I left that to the professionals. Initially, the executive producer asked if I wanted a crack at writing the first draft of the movie adaptation, but I said ‘Thank you, but no.” It was a huge responsibility, one I was not prepared to take on. Writing a novel is very different from creating a screenplay and when you have people investing millions of dollars in this production, I’d rather not make my screenwriting debut on a major motion picture. Instead, the producer gave me the names of 5 A-List Hollywood screenwriters to choose from. It was a very impressive list as they were all Oscar winning or Oscar nominated for their works. However, I had another writer I wanted to recommend. I told her about a lesser known, but award winning Canadian screenwriter by the name of Michael Bruce Adams. When I explained that I love his style of storytelling and I knew he had read my novels and was as passionate about the characters and stories as she was, he was hired to write the first draft of the screenplay. What fascinates me and has me more than a little awed--is that they *listen* to what you are saying. You have done your homework on writers and you know what you are willing to take on.

I trusted Michael and we discussed key elements about the story and the characters. From there, he was set loose to create. I was asked to review the screenplay and offer feedback. Overall, it was awesome! Oh, now I am dying to see this movie! ;) 

You are part of this whole process of your book being made into a movie, what are your responsibilities?  According my entertainment lawyer Mr. Kim Roberts, many authors are excluded from the creative process for a number of reasons. I’ve been very fortunate in that the executive producer felt the best way to remain as true to the stories and characters was to have me involved in the big screen adaptation, so I was hired as the creative consultant. To date, I’ve reviewed the screenplay, offered feedback and reviewed over 1000 actors’ photo/resumes to compile a list of actors I felt was most suitable for the various roles. It’d be lovely if the casting director could sign on my entire list of dream actors, but this was done more so to narrow down the candidates for the principle and supporting roles. It was to make it easier for the casting director to select actors knowing right from the start whom I envision in terms of age, height, that certain look that made them believable as the character, etc. That is fascinating--and it shows how well you work with others. That you trust the people who have taken what you have created to make it into something visual--this is impressive. I think many writers fear what will happen when their books are in hands of others--this sounds like such a rich and positive experience.

Another responsibility in my contract is to make an appearance at the red carpet movie premiers.Ok, that's just plain cool. :)  

(For fun) Tea or coffee? Which do you prefer? I can’t  say I prefer one or the other. I like to have my daily ration of mocha latte in the morning to get my brain working, and then I’ll drink organic Silk Dragon Jasmine Green Tea or Chai tea. I love Mochas...but Jasmine tea is lovely. My family loves Chai. I'll remember that for future reference. ;)

Thank you so much for coming here today Lorna, it has been fun and a true pleasure to talk to you. I have many more questions--so know that I will be asking you to come back here again. I hope that everything continues to run smoothly with the movie. I hope to hear updates on it.

Instant Messaging: Twitter @LornaSuzuki

Author Bio: A fan of swashbuckling adventure novels by Alexandre Dumas of The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo fame, Lorna Suzuki had noticed that it was always the men going off on great adventures and enjoying the camaraderie of a brotherhood. Most often, 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 some of 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 over twenty-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 @ www.shinkentaijutsu.com 

When Suzuki is not writing the next instalment 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. Suzuki is also currently a consultant/scriptwriter on the PBS TV series ‘West Coast Adventures’.

In early 2011, the first three novels of the Imago Chronicles series were optioned for a major motion picture trilogy. Book One A Warrior’s Tale is now in development and full production is slated for 2012. 

She resides in the suburbs outside of Vancouver, BC with her husband Scott White, a talented videographer and Bujinkan Shidoshi, and her charming, young daughter Nia.

8 comments:

Patricia Preston said...

Congratulations, Lorna! I know you are excited. I can't imagine seeing my characters on screen. I would be thrilled! I went Indy this year with a couple of short stories just for the fun of it. No regrets at all. It is has been the best experience ever! I've loved every minute of it. Will tweet your post.

M.V.Freeman said...

Patricia--that is fantastic. ;) I've been watching you and you've been in *fire* :)

Crystal Lee said...

Congratulations Lorna!!! Your success is an inspiration to all, especially those considering self-publication who long to see their characters come to life on the big screen. I look forward to reading your stories, and I wish you continued success as your own journey unfolds.

M.V.Freeman said...

Thanks for stopping by Crystal! ;)

Lorna Suzuki said...

Thank you for the kind words of support! It's been surreal at times as movie production advances and now, I find my greatest challenge is encouraging people to read the novels as many of my followers would prefer to just watch the movie when it's released! Thank you so much, Mary! It was a real honour to share my story with you and your followers!

danniehill said...

M. One of the best interview setups I've seen. And the list of authors you interview is impressive.

Lorna, I always, always enjoy learning more about you. For me it's just amazing I can read and comment to one of my favorite authors! I can't wait for the movies!

M.V.Freeman said...

Thanks Lorna! It is a pleasure to have had you here. I truly hope you come back again soon!

M.V.Freeman said...

Hello Dannie,

Thanks so much! I have a blast talking with authors. I am always on the look out for the unexpected.

ANd I agree...Lorna is awesome! ;)