our readers a little something about yourself. What would you like them to know about you as a writer?
When I was growing up, especially
in my teens, I had little time to enjoy fiction. I spent a lot of time reading encyclopedias and reference books. Under my
circumstances, I couldn’t afford to go to university. I had to be resourceful and find other ways to bring my knowledge
up to snuff with university grads competing for the same jobs. When I did begin writing, it was educational manuals and teaching
guides focusing on natural history.
As far as writing fantasy, my husband tells people I created the imaginary
world of Imago because my bid for world domination failed. I had to resort to ruling an imaginary world where I pull all the
strings and control the lives of all the characters.
What or who, inspired you to write in this genre?
The greatest source of inspiration
comes from my mother, although she died when I was only nine-years-old. She was a woman before her times and many of the life
lessons she shared gave me the courage to challenge tradition and people’s expectations to conform. Because of her,
I’ve been able to beat some pretty incredible odds and some of my more interesting experiences are sprinkled throughout
my novels for my daughter when she’s mature enough to read my books.
What keeps me writing are the Imago fans, the
ones who eagerly anticipate the next adventure. Of course, my lovely daughter Nia loves it when I read aloud the abridged,
child-friendly version. Ultimately, when I’m long gone, she’ll find humor, life lessons and comfort in the stories
I’ll leave for her. I think that’s a worthy gift for my daughter.
does your day begin, as a writer? How do you make time to write?
Finding the time to write is tricky and it certainly
requires a degree of discipline. Like many authors, I have a part-time job. This, I must juggle with writing biographies for
a production company; researching and writing for a weekly TV series called West Coast Adventures (airs on KCTS); but most
importantly, I must fit in quality time with my daughter.
Of course, this means waiting until I’ve walked her to school or I wait until she’s
tucked into bed. The older she gets, the later she stays awake, the later I must shift my writing time into the night. Unfortunately,
I’m also getting older and I’ll be the first to admit it’s getting tougher to keep up the long hours.
it calls for a nice, hot cup of coffee (occasionally spiked with a liqueur) and listening to music to get into the creative
mindset. Lately, I’ve been hooked on listening to Coldplay’s Viva la Vida. If you listen to the lyrics, it’s
somehow fitting when you consider I quite literally rule this world I’ve created and I struggle to stay on top of my
I read on your site you just decided one day to begin writing after finding yourself unemployed. Tell
us about that.
It’s funny how life works. One day I had a job I loved, the next, all in management, myself
included were let go. The next day, Feb. 7, 2002, I started writing Imago Book One: Tales from the West. Ten novels later,
I still start my novels on the seventh day of the month.
In all honesty, the Imago series has a rather morbid beginning. When I reached the age of
39, the same age my mother was when she died, I began writing a journal for my daughter. I was more fortunate than my younger
sisters to have had the time to really talk to my mother before she died, but I knew if I should meet the same fate, my husband
wouldn’t know what to say if my daughter asked him how I dealt with being one of the first women to break the gender
barrier when I worked in law enforcement for the Federal Dept. of Fisheries & Oceans. Or how I handled being the only
female martial arts instructor in an all male dojo. Or even how I dealt with racism, chauvinism, etc.
It was after a martial arts seminar,
comments made by female participants about not knowing women could really fight until they saw me take on the biggest guys
in the class, made me rethink this journal. I decided it’d make for a more interesting read for my daughter if I disguised
some of the events in my life in a fantasy story. That’s how some of my own experiences being a female, and a puny one
at that, in a male dominated arena sowed the seeds of Imago.
You have strong and unique characters.
Did you have to dig deep for these characters, or were they always there, just waiting for you to give them life?
It’s hard to explain. In my mind,
it’s like they were always there. When I wrote the first book, I wrote it in one month. It was as though I knew each
of the main character’s history, their idiosyncrasies, what they represented and why. In some ways, it almost seems
as if they just lying dormant, waiting for me to put their lives down on paper to share with others. Now, they’re just
running amok trying to commandeer by mind!
How do you set yourself apart from other fantasy writers? And how
do you keep your ideas fresh?
This will sound strange, but I don’t read fantasy while I write fantasy. Yes, shame
on me; I have yet to read Lord of the Rings or any fantasies for that matter! It took the fantasy fans telling me that I’ve
deviated from the standards established for this particular genre before I discovered there was one.
For the couple of readers who
like fantasy to stay within a formula they’re familiar with, my creation of a powerful, but oh-so fallible Wizard, as
well as making my Elves somewhat emotionally charged and exhibiting some of the worst in human behavior really raised their
hackles. Everyone else so far found it to be a refreshing change that I had deviated from the standards and I still refuse
For example, one of the Wizards, Lindras Weatherstone is a powerful and benevolent Wizard, but he is far from perfect. He
has let his magical skills slide, not because he’s lazy, but because he refuses to be accepted into the mortal’s
world through the manipulation or threat of magic, preferring to use logic and reasoning to deal with the humans. Of course,
just like with martial arts, if you don’t practice, you struggle. For Lindras, when forced to use his powers, his friends
basically run for the hills in fear for their lives!
The Elves, too, are wise and like to portray themselves as being an enlightened race, but
they can be very emotional when it comes to matters of the heart. Also, they are not lithe, delicate creatures of the forest.
My Elves are built for war. In hindsight, now that there’s a production company interested in optioning rights for a
film trilogy, for the female fans, I’m hoping it means lots of eye candy. Oh yeah, and lots of kick-ass fight scenes.
Yes, that’s what I meant to say!
As for keeping things fresh, I tend to see what’s commonplace and I’ll
try to do the opposite (story of my life) within reason!
other day, I was in the backyard with my four-year-old daughter, slaying dragons. She refused to be the damsel-in-distress
and preferred to be a dragon slayer. Do you believe the trend to portray women as damsels-in-distress in fantasy novels,
or in any other genre, is changing? Is there room for strong and independent female characters?
I certainly hope so! That’s one of the
reasons I created the half-human/half Elf warrior Nayla Treeborn. It was after a seminar when the female participants told
me that they thought women couldn’t fight because it’s in their upbringing, their culture and the books they read,
that it forced me to take a closer look. That was back in 2002, so I do hope it’s changing, but at the time I couldn’t
I made a trip to the local bookstore, and thumbing through a sampling of fantasy novels, if the females were
able to battle men and monsters, they were endowed with supernatural powers or they were evil if they could hold their own.
They were all the Xena Warrior Princess or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, super human types. These characters
are great for entertainment, but not exactly realistic role models.
My first thought: There’s no way in hell I want
my daughter reading about women waiting to be rescued. I wanted her to read about women who do the rescuing. But I wanted
her to read about a female protagonist who is able to do so without magic or supernatural powers, relying instead on years
of training in the warrior arts to help her survive.
I do believe there is a place for strong, independent female characters. Surprisingly, I
have almost as many male fans as I do, females. I’ve had mothers who have read my books tell me they’ve given
their teenaged daughters the books to read, despite the adult content, because they felt Nayla was a wonderful role model.
As flawed as she is, these fans have told me they love Nayla’s warrior spirit and the fact she is proud of her femininity,
speaks her mind and boldly flies against convention.
By the way, your daughter will grow up to be a leader, not a follower!
You go, dragon slayer girl!
You are a martial arts teacher. How has this helped you in creating believable and interesting
I’ve been a practitioner of martial arts for almost as long as you’ve been in existence, Corbin!
(Oops! I think I just dated myself!)
My knowledge has definitely come in handy and I often wonder how authors who don’t
even know how to hold a sword properly or how it feels to really get brutally bashed can write convincing fight scenes. I
can only assume these authors have stronger imaginations than I do, in order to pull it off!
As far as how martial arts has
helped my writing, I do find myself choreographing fights, if not for real, in my mind. Those who study martial arts have
told me there’s a realistic feel to the battle scenes, but the ultimate compliment came from North American Black Belt
Hall of Fame inductee, my sensei Phillip Legare. He sent a book review praising my battles scenes. He said, “the battle strategies and their combat tactics are so authentic that it rivals the Go Rin No
Sho (Book of Five Rings), written by the great swordsman Miyamoto Musashi”.
But as realistic as the fight
scenes are, and many of Nayla’s trademark moves are so subtle, her victims don’t know what hit them until it’s
too late. I’ve already been told by one producer that they lack the flash required to make them really stand out on
the big screen. A fight choreographer would be brought in to orchestrate these scenes.
It’s interesting to note though that a
couple of women questioned how plausible it was to break bones and keep fighting, or if a person can really get up and keep
fighting after being the recipient of a roundhouse kick to the face that’s so hard, it dislocates your jaw. Well, I
know first hand that it’s possible. I’ve withstood brutal fights being the only woman who refused to be excluded
from a full contact, all men martial arts club.
Are you a prolific reader? Who are your favorite authors?
I regret to say that I rarely
have time to read these days. When I do get a chance to squeeze some reading in, I try to finish an Arthurian novel called
Uther by Jack Whyte. I also have other books, the Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks, The Outlander by Diana Gabaldon &
The Dawning of Power by Brian Rathbone on my to-read list. At this time, I can only stare at them longingly as they sit on
my bookshelf. I’m using them as an incentive or reward for getting my own writing finished first.
much time do you dedicate to marketing your books?
Whether you’re a debut novelist or a NY Times Best
Seller, all authors must devote time to marketing. In my case, I don’t have enough time to do as much as I should. At
the same time, because my books are so bloody expensive and only the devoted fans don’t mind paying the premium, I tend
to encourage those wanting to read to approach their local library about adding the books to their collection. At this time,
my agent wants my first goal to be making my name known out there, so via Twitter, my official website and my blog, which
is gaining in popularity, that is what I’m focusing on.
You are on Twitter. How has this helped your
writing? Has it facilitated contact with other authors?
I’ll admit I had my doubts about Twitter
as I’m one of those technologically challenged, socially inept, hermit types.
Once I got the hang of it, it’s
been a wonderful venue to meet other seasoned writers, aspiring authors and fans of the literary arts. Hell! I met you on
Twitter and you’re always interesting to follow just to see what kind of trouble you’re getting into!
Seriously though, in the short
span of time since I opened my Twitter account, I now have over 200 followers, of which most are writers and fans of the literary
arts. I know 200 does not sound like much, but I’m into quality and not quantity!
I’ve even been inspired by some, like you
for example. You allowed me to borrow your surname for one of my principle characters in my new YA novel the Dream Merchant
Saga, thank you very much. Silverthorn! Yep, can’t get anymore Elvish than that!
I’ve also been introduced to some talented,
aspiring writers like David Lee (@worldblee on Twitter). It was a humbling experience when he asked if I’d like to read
sample chapters and offer advice. With so many qualified individuals with diplomas in creative writing, I always feel honored
when a fellow writer feels I have adequate knowledge of the writing process, enough that they feel I can help them in some
many times do you edit a book/story until you decide it's ready to send off to a publisher?
I’ve always found writing
the story easy. Editing/proofreading is the hellish side of writing.
I proofread at least six times or until I go blind, which ever comes
first. I put the ms away for a week or even a month so I can read it with fresh eyes. I pass it on to as many as six others,
including members of my writing/critique group, and then I proof it again.
The irony of the whole exercise is that after
many pairs of adult eyes have proofed it, it’s been my eleven-year-old daughter to find the odd typo!
The only thing that has gotten
me through this process is some advice I received from the father of modern day fantasy, Terry Brooks. He pointed out that
because the editor, the line editor and all those involved in the process are human, there will be room for human error. Even
best selling novels have typos. He went on to say that a reader would forgive the author for a few typos or the odd grammatical
error if the story is great. However, what a reader will not forgive is a technically perfect novel (no grammatical errors
and no typos), but the story falls flat. He said that this is unforgivable, especially when a reader pays good money for the
book. Luckily for me, the fans of Imago agree with Mr. Brooks.
What is the best part of being a writer?
And what is the worst?
It’s a toss up between two things: I must say, it feels pretty darned good when
I go to the library and see my books are being borrowed and read, and they have that well used look and feel to them.
I know it’s being recommended by word of mouth so it’s nice. The other is when I have readers (especially guys)
tell me one of my sad passages had moved them to tears or when I hear my audience laughing aloud at all the right places when
I’m doing a reading. It is both a satisfying feeling, but humbling, too. For an author, it’s like a sign you’re
hitting your mark and achieving your goal as a writer.
The worst part for any author is realizing you pretty much need a literary agent to get
you through the gates into the realm of mainstream publishing. I have an agent now, Jenoyne Adams of Bliss Literary Agency
International handling the Imago Fantasy Series, but OMG! It’s a tough nut to crack finding the right one. My husband
says I can do a workshop on finding an agent and if I do, I should call it: “Life’s a Pitch, and Then You Cry!”
What are your views on e-book publishing? Would you recommend it?
The publishing landscape is forever
changing. I believe there will always be people who like the feel of a book in their hands, but at the same time, with advances
in technology, I understand some of these e-readers are very much like reading a book, except you can store an entire library
These days, I think a smart author would certainly consider an e-book edition, and I’m not speaking
of just making it available on Kindle. Apparently, many more people own iPods and they are using them to download novels to
read on the run.
If you don’t embrace this technology now, eventually, you’ll be left behind in the dust. I firmly believe there’s
a place for printed books and e-books, but the popularity of the e-book will continue to grow and their sales may
eventually out pace the printed editions in the future.
The tide has changed for fantasy fiction and it seems the general public
takes it more seriously. More mainstream publishers are looking for fantasy manuscripts or manuscripts with a fantasy
element. Where do you see this genre heading in the future?
I believe producer/director Peter Jackson’s
interpretation of the Lord of the Rings trilogy has much to do with this, especially when it became the first fantasy film
to win numerous Oscars. Also, the political/economic climate drives the popularity of books that provide an inexpensive form
of escapism. Fantasy is the ultimate form of escapism, in my opinion.
The fantasy genre, no matter what form it takes, is
timeless and ageless, so I believe there will always be readers. Interestingly enough, I’ve discovered that some of
those who snub fantasies do so because they feel they are serious readers, too sophisticated to touch this genre.
They fail to realize that many of the
plotlines are based on real life issues that reflect on the human condition in the real world.
Case in point, in the Imago series
the female protagonist, Nayla Treeborn must deal with prejudice, being half-human/half-elf. The only one of her kind, she
is shunned by one race and denied by the other. She is a survivor of child abuse and must rise above all sorts of indignities
thrust upon her as a female entering the male dominated arena of warriorship. She must also come to terms with her own mortality
and vulnerability when she is overwhelmed by numbers and is raped by the captain of an opposing army. Racism, sexism, chauvinism,
child abuse and rape… all serious subjects that happens in real life.
advice do you have for aspiring writers and those writers still waiting to be published?
For the aspiring writer: The more
you write, the better your writing will become, but remember to seek advice from the seasoned author, someone who is knowledgeable
when it comes to editing/proofing and unbiased (in other words, don’t ask your grandmother for her opinion unless she
is an accomplished writer and can be brutally honest).
For writers still waiting to be published: There are many options
now available, but do your homework. Whatever method you choose; research the publishing co/method. If you’re going
the traditional route, more often than not, you’ll need an agent. Check the Editors & Predators website for a credible
literary agent. Above all else, continue to hone your writing skills and persevere!
What's next for Lorna Suzuki? And where can readers find samples of your work?
I’d like to finish writing the YA fantasy trilogy Dream Merchant Saga and finalize the agreement with a publishing
company interested in a 3-book deal; have a successful launch of Imago Book Six: The Spell Binder this October; see the Imago
film trilogy come to fruition and my last piece of writing, a historical fiction set in Egypt, eventually committed to paper.
Then I’ll stop writing and move on to the next adventure.
Excerpts, as well as reviews, for all my available novels in the Imago series can be found on my official
website: www.imagobooks.ca. And if they want to laugh, what the heck! They can even watch video footage of my MTV
and Urban Rush appearances.
And last, but not least, I'll ask you a question I like to ask other writers
and artists... Do you believe in the magical and the mystical?
I write fantasies and with all I’ve seen
and experienced in my life, of course I believe! And thank you for giving me the opportunity to share the world of Imago
with your many readers!