1.) Did any events that occurred in your life influence you to write this book. Iif yes, can you explain?
I think my whole life has been leading up to the writing of this book. Let me explain.
My first big screen experience as a kid was watching a Bruce Lee film projected on a screen at a Boy Scout assembly in a rural town hall. It led me to later taking up karate from which I developed a love of Japanese language, culture and etiquette. Also as a kid, I wrote two books, one called ‘The Magic Sword’ and one called ‘The Samurai’. In my adult life I later took up karate again and had a great sensei who re-kindled my love of all things Japanese.
2.) Why did you decide to focus on a Japanese theme for this book?
Perhaps my last answer applies here too. I’m a bit of a Japanophile and am drawn to all things Japanese. What appeals to me about the Bushido, Samurai and Japanese way of life is how different it is to the Western world’s way of living. I love that whole idea of loyalty and honour being more important than everything else. I also like the gentle, precise, patient, philosophical, reflective, polite, stoic nature of Japanese people.
I also like Japan’s curious mix of the ancient and the modern. It’s a place I really want to visit.
3.) Did any other book inspire you to write this one?
When I was a child I loved The Way of the Tiger series of gamebooks by Mark Smith and Jamie Thomson. I think they got me interested in ninjas. When I started writing The Black Lotus I sought out other stories set in medieval Japan. I particularly liked Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn, Shogunby James Clavell, Blue Fingers: A Ninja’s Tale by Cheryl Aylward Whitesel and The Lotus War trilogy by Jay Kristoff.
4.) Do you consider yourself a member of The Black Lotus?
If I told you I’d have to kill you. So let’s move on to the next question.
5.) Why in particular did you choose to set your book in sixteeth-century Japan as well as present-day New York? (I thought that made the book even more amazing by the way)
My plan was always to have a chunk of the book set in sixteenth century Japan – the story dictated that. Having feudal Japan come to the modern world was an idea I had for a later book but my publisher loved it so much they suggested I include it in this book. I originally envisioned Lord Goda and his army marching down Trafalgar Square in London, but with Kate being from New York City, Times Square made more sense. Plus, it’s more epic in scale. I’m glad you liked this part.
6.) Can you give us any info on what other adventures await Ghost, Cormac and Kate after the ending of the book?
I can’t tell you much because I haven’t written any further books. I have rough outlines but they’re too rough to talk about at this stage. What I can say is, there will be plenty more adventures and battles in different locations and times. If you re-read Lady Kiko’s final chapter, you will get a clue as to one of these eras.
7.) Why in particular did you choose speed, invisibility and talking to animals to be the skills of the three main characters?
Kate’s ability was a conscious one. There is plenty in my book to appeal to boys but I really wanted Kate to appeal to girls. Most girls love animals, so that’s why Kate has this gift.
Ghost and Cormac’s special abilities evolved from their opening scenes. Ghost was robbing an apartment on the seventh floor when he got trapped. He needed a specific power to help him escape. Similarly, Cormac gets trapped by bullies in the dead-end of an alley – so that’s where his superpower came from.
8.) Just out of curiosity, do you know how to speak Japanese, since your book includes many Japanese words as well as a glossary at the back?
I’d love to be able to say yes, but unfortunately, no, I don’t speak a word of Japanese. I had to enlist the help of Japanese speakers.
9.) If your book was turned into a movie, who would you like the main characters to be played by?
Unfortunately, I don’t know the names of enough young actors to answer this. Sorry!
10.) Are you thinking about writing a sequel?
Yes, I have a sequel planned, but I haven’t started writing it yet. I’m in the middle of another children’s book which I’d like to finish first. But there WILL be a sequel, with plenty of action, fighting, time-travel and surprises. Watch this space!