~Sometimes Dreams Really Do Come True~
LORNA SUZUKI, AUTHOR
“Hire a great editor if you can afford it. If you can’t, then find a critique group who can give you unbiased, constructive criticism and be prepared to make the necessary changes!”
Self-published author Lorna Suzuki talks to us today about her series, Imago, which is set to move into production with two-time Oscar-winning producer, Don Carmody (Good Will Hunting,Resident Evil, and Lucky Number Slevin) and the excitement of working as creative consultant on the film. She also spills the beans about the special relationship she shares with her daughter, Nia, and how they collaborated to write the Dream Merchant Saga together.
Lorna has also happily agreed to answer any questions, within reason, that you may have, so feel free to post them in the comments below, and she will swing by to respond to them.
CARNIVAL: When did you first start writing?
SUZUKI: I’ve always written professionally in one form or another, but I started writing fiction on Feb. 7th, 2002. I remember this date because on Feb. 5th I had a job I loved as the head of the education and volunteer dept. of a zoo. On Feb. 6th all of management, myself included, were released from our jobs when a new partner stepped in. I started writing the first of the Imago Chronicles fantasy series the very next day, and now, all of the 14 novels I’ve written were started on the 7th day of the month!
CARNIVAL: When did you realize you were an author and what triggered the change in thinking?
SUZUKI: I often found that I’d refer to myself as a writer or a novelist, more so than an author. I suppose it’s because I’ve had a few aspiring authors striving for traditional publishing tell me that I’m not a ‘real’ author because I decided to self-publish my novels. Even though the publishing landscape is shifting, there is still a stigma attached to being self-published. I can’t deny there are many books that are out that require serious editing and proofreading, but there are some real gems, too, that would never be read because they cross genres, have a niche market, etc. Had it not been for self-publishing, we’d never experience the joys of reading these titles.
Technically, as far as fiction writing goes, if you publish a novel, whether it’s self-published, or not, and people are buying and reading it, recommending it to their friends, and it’s getting into libraries and there’s a waiting list of patrons waiting to borrow these books, doesn’t that qualify you as an author? Some people agree, others don’t. I tend to let the reading public decide for themselves if I’m deserving of this title.
CARNIVAL: What is the number one piece of advice you’d give a self-published author or a person considering the self-publishing route?
SUZUKI: Before deciding to self-publish, why not query literary agents first? All it takes is one fabulous agent to break down the publishing door. Mind you, I had two literary agents in the past, the last one had award-winning authors with multi-book deals with the Big 5, but I was left terribly disheartened by my experience with the traditional publishing business… Still, there’s nothing wrong with trying it first. You just never know! Other than that, if you do decide to self-publish, then put your best work out there. Hire a great editor if you can afford it. If you can’t, then find a critique group that can give you unbiased, constructive criticism. Once you’ve made these edits, find Beta readers to give you honest feedback, and be prepared to make the necessary changes!
CARNIVAL: If people are interested in reading the Imago series, where can they go to sample some chapters or buy the books?
SUZUKI: I LOVE for people to read the sample chapters BEFORE investing their money and time on purchasing any of the novels of the Imago Chronicles or The Dream Merchant Saga! First of all though, people should know that even though the film adaptation ofImago Chronicles is being made for a PG-13 audience, the books were written for a mature audience. (In other words, I don’t need parents accusing me of scarring their young children’s minds with the sexual content and graphic violence!) While The Dream Merchant Saga was written for the YA crowd and is a lighter, humorous jibe at classic fairytales and fantasy tomes, it attracts adult readers, too.
Sample chapters are available to download for FREE from my website by clicking HERE.
If you’d like to read 20% for free, do check out Smashwords by clicking HERE.
The sample chapters on my website are deluxe PDF versions that look just like the printed versions, while on Smashwords, whatever your e-reading device, you can find the format that works for you!
CARNIVAL: Tell us about being optioned for a movie?
A few years ago, a young actress happened to see an interview I did on MTV where I was being interviewed about the Imago series and was asked to do a martial arts demo to give watchers a sense of how the main character fights. She bought the first three novels, read them and fell in love with the characters and the stories. She dropped her acting career and studied the business side of film production through the London Film School, and when she graduated, she made it her business to see Imago on the big screen.
There were several other producers all vying for film rights, but she made the best offer! Since then, a screenwriter was hired to write the first draft of the screenplay, a line producer determined the budget based on the screenplay, we’ve tapped a fabulous conceptual artist and two-time Oscar-winning producer, Don Carmody has signed on to this major motion picture trilogy. Though he’s not a household name like James Cameron or Steven Spielberg, Don has worked on over 100 films, including the Oscar-winner Good Will Hunting, the musical Chicago, and here in Canada, he’s best known for the Resident Evil franchise. His latest films includeMortal Instruments: City of Bones and Pompeii.
Take a peek here if you’d like to watch a fast-paced montage of some of his biggest films; you’ll see he has worked with some of Hollywood’s brightest stars: http://doncarmody.com/show-reel.php
CARNIVAL: Where are you in the planning stages for production now? Is there an expected release date yet?
SUZUKI: The first of the film trilogy based on Imago Chronicles: Book One A Warrior’s Tale is in the pre-production phase, so casting is underway, but there is so much work to be done just to get to first day of principle photography. I’ve had some complain it’s taking too long, but when you consider it takes 18-24 months on average for one of the Big 5 publishers to get a novel onto bookstores’ shelves, I think we’re doing pretty well. Unlike a print book, a film requires gaining financial or studio backing, a huge production crew, casting and signing on the right actors, set design, costume and weapons design, and then filming can begin! After that, let’s not forget all the work in post-production with CGI, sound, editing, soundtracks, etc. The worldwide theatrical release is slated for late 2015/early 2016, if we hit no production SNAFUs.
CARNIVAL: You co-author with your daughter, right? That’s really cool. How did it end up happening?
SUZUKI: My daughter Nia is an avid reader, reading well above her age level from early on in her young life. She and her friends had asked if I could please write novels geared for their age group, so a YA fantasy was in order. She started off as the ‘teen consultant’ with the first novel in The Dream Merchant Saga, but with the second novel in the series, after critiquing the first chapter of this book she said, “Mom, this is good, but it can be better.” I said, “Really? Show me!” I pushed the laptop toward her and she proceeded to rewrite the opening scene of Book 2: The Silver Sword. Well, Nia really did ‘show me’, and since then, she has written a portion of every chapter in books 2, 3 and now 4, in The Dream Merchant Saga. Strangely enough, her creative mind is quite similar to mine so our passages just meld together pretty seamlessly!
CARNIVAL: And, last but not least, where are you planning on going from here? You’ve accomplished so much, but I’m sure you’re just plotting the next adventure, right?
SUZUKI: Nia and I hope to write one more novel in the Dream Merchant Saga to finish this series off with 5 books. If I do write another novel, it will be something completely different (historical fiction based in Kyoto, Japan) and it will be my final novel. For the time being, I’ve been hired as the creative consultant for the film adaptations of my novels, so I’m looking forward for full production to switch into high gear!
CARNIVAL: If people would like to follow your social pages, how would they go about doing so?
SUZUKI: I’m on Facebook and Twitter, but my favourite form of social media is Twitter. People can use @LornaSuzuki to follow me there. I also have a YouTube channel readers can subscribe to where I’ll be posting Vlogs to keep readers up to date with film news and literary events I’ll be attending. You can access it by clicking HERE. I also have a website where people can read weekly author features, news and events, reviews and sample chapters! Website:http://www.newmobileme.com/imagochronicles9
Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me, Writer’s Carnival! It was fun.
CARNIVAL: Thank you, Lorna. We appreciate you taking the time to talk to us and to give your advice to all the aspiring writers out there. We wish you the best and look forward to seeing Imago on the big screen!