Writing with her heart, soul, and imagination, fantasy writer Lorna Suzuki, shares her insight on creating magical worlds and relatable characters. Read on for more and for an exciting announcement about Lorna’s Imago Chronicles series!
Hello, Lorna, and thanks for taking the time to chat with me!
You are welcome and thank you so much for having me here!
In your Imago Chronicles series, you have built an intricate world full of magical characters and social hierarchies. How did you create such a fantasy world that carries such magic, while encompassing relatable characters?
That’s an interesting question! I think this is part of the reason many literary snobs do not consider this genre as ‘serious literature’. They feel with all the magic, elves, and dragons, etc. how can anyone take fantasy seriously? My way around this was to create characters that are relatable. They are far from perfect and often struggling with their own personal demons. Also, even though my characters live in an imaginary world, they are faced with real world issues like racism, religious intolerance, sexism, child abuse, rape and so on.
At one time or another, we’ve all dealt with one or all of these issues, so when the female protagonist is able to rise above adversity, there are readers who really do cheer for this underdog! Another thing they seem to relate to is that she doesn’t always succeed at what she does, often struggling to work around her moments of failure.
I do feel you must create characters the readers will care about. If you have great action, but they don’t care if the characters live or die, they probably won’t keep reading the book.
What kinds of pre-planning did you do to ensure continuity in your Imago world? (Storyboards, outlines, etc)
No story boards, but because the Imago Chronicles, including the prequels Imago Chronicles: Prophecy and its sequel, Legacy spans over two thousands years in the history of this fantasy world, I’ve had to design a timeline detailing births, deaths, and other milestones that can affect the stories and characters, especially if I mess up on these details.
As a fantasy writer, do you start with character or setting? How do you know when you have the story so you can begin writing?
It starts with deciding what kind of story I want to tell and then selecting the characters that will be telling this story. It helps that each character also has his (or her) own back-story that determines how they respond to any given circumstance or crisis. But for me, I do have to know what the story is about first, hence the need for plotting.
Most fantasy novels employ male protagonists. What was it like to create a female protagonist embarking on an epic adventure? Were there certain clichés you consciously avoided? Were there certain clichés that seemed to pop out that you noticed during revisions?
Nayla Treeborn was created after teaching a martial arts seminar. I was the only female instructor there and when the session was done, a number of female participants approached me, telling me they never knew a woman could really fight until they saw me use only men in my training demos.
When I asked why they thought this, they said it was in their upbringing, their culture and in the books they read. A quick dash to the book store confirmed that women were either being rescued, or if they were able to hold their own against a larger opponent, then they were endowed with supernatural powers to do so, much like Xena Warrior Princess or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Well, I didn’t want my daughter reading about women being rescued, I wanted her to read about women who could do the rescuing.
At the same time, I wanted to create a petite female who was able to survive because of her wits, ability to strategize as well as using her many years of martial arts training, not developing super powers to overcome challenges.
What’s your exciting announcement regarding the Imago Chronicles series?
The series is complete with nine novels, but on the movie front, the first three novels in the Imago Chronicles have been optioned for a major motion picture trilogy. It’s a co-pro with indie film producer Michy Gustavia and her good friend, Ari Lantos, producer at Serendipity Point Films.
Ari and his father, Robert Lantos are best known for the Oscar-nominated Eastern Promises starring Viggo Mortensen and Golden Globe winners Barney’s Version and Being Julia. The award-winning screenwriter is Michael Bruce Adams and he did a wonderful job on the screenplay.
Imago Chronicles: Book One A Warrior’s Tale was pitched to the film industry as LoTR and 300 meets The Last Samurai! Serendipity Point Films is currently involved in two films, so full production on A Warrior’s Tale is slated to begin fall 2012.
On the writing front, I’ve switched gears and I’m currently working on the third novel in the YA fantasy series, The Dream Merchant Saga. It’s a trilogy I’ve been co-writing with my teenage daughter, Nia. It’s been well received and some have told me it’s like Ella Enchanted meets The Princess Bride!