Today we have Lily Benitez at emwhittaker.com, discussing her upcoming novel, Shinobi 7: Poisoned Battleground.
Thank you for agreeing to this interview this morning.
Thank you very much for having me! I’m honored to be featured.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
Hmm, where to begin on this one? I was born in Southern California where I lived there the first fourteen years of my life. After that, my whole family moved to a small town in Mississippi. It was definitely a culture shock, but here in this small town I found my passion for Shotokan Karate. I’ve always been a fan of the Japanese culture and I’ve been writing all my life. However, once I started karate, I knew that I wanted to write a book (book series, rather) about ninjas and Martial Arts action. I wanted to write books with characters that learned to grow confidence within themselves, work together as a team, and deal with the pressure of an ongoing war. Those are some of the themes in Shinobi 7 Series.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I want to fully publish my Shinobi 7 Series by the time I’m twenty-five. This year I’ll turn twenty. I want to publish all my stand alone books as well. Really, I just want to get better and improve with each day, week, month, and year. So long as I’m moving forward, I’m happy.
Which writers inspire you?
I’m a big fan of Eon Colfer, the author of the Artemis Fowl series. He’s very imaginative and I love his command of the science fiction genre. I’m also inspired by all the different mangas and graphic novels that are out today. When I think of scenes in my books, I picture them as if I were watching a show, it’s all visual. With that said, I’ll be reading a comic and I’ll see a certain depicted scene and it will inspire me. The look on the character’s face, the words they say, the setting. It’s all very helpful!
What have you written so far?
I’ve written the first three books of the Shinobi 7 Series. Shinobi 7: Trials of a Warrior #1, Poisoned Battleground: Shinobi 7 #2, and the third S7 which has yet to be edited and titled. I’ve written many fictions about the S7 series which are only available on my official author blog. I’m currently writing my very first stand alone novel, which is 267 pages so far and 2/3rds of the way complete!
Once the S7 Series ends, the adventures won’t be over for the characters. Readers and fans will be able to read further character introspection and plot fillers on my blog. There are a lot of characters and a lot of “What happened during this interlude?” questions that I’ll be answering.
Where can we buy or see them?
You can buy all of my books on Amazon.com. I’ll be looking into expanding to B&N soon. On December 6th I’ll not only release Poisoned Battleground, but also the Kindle version of Shinobi 7: Trials of a Warrior. Both books will be available as print and Kindle books copies! Please also join the raffle included in this interview. You can enter for a chance to win a free eBook copy of Shinobi 7: Trials of a Warrior!!!
Now, I’d like to talk to you a bit about Shinobi 7.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
One of my most beloved characters is one that I’ll draw and sketch the most. The Kitsune Clan’s second-in-command, shinobi woman Akira Miyamoto. She is one of my most deep and complex characters that I’ve ever written. Akira is a teacher and has been alive and struggled through the war since the beginning. She’s had a rough life and the war has pushed her past all her limits, it has stretched her out so far that she should be nothing. But this character is a survivor and she is every definition of grit and durable.
With that being said, the hardened heart that Akira possesses starts to soften when the Kitsune Clan accepts new students and she has to train Sector 7. Akira Miyamoto is the character that will always have to make the hard decisions and the weight on her shoulders will be the heaviest. But she’s also the strongest, and hopefully the readers will see that through the series.
Give us a summary of your book.
Shinobi 7 takes place in an alternate universe, in a feudal world known as Shaaku Den. There were thirteen secret shinobi (ninja) clans that were spread out in the world, hidden from the public. The Blackthorn Clan initiated war in the thirteen clans and the two Blackthorn leaders killed all of them off in an attempt to rule Shaaku Den for themselves. However, one shinobi clan survived and is the only clan to stand up to Blackthorn’s tyranny… the Kitsune Clan.
That’s where you’ll meet the six main characters who are known as Sector 7. They’re kids between 8-18 who join the Kitsune Clan to be warriors. That’s the unique thing about this book series. The characters aren’t already ninjas who use their skills to fight back in battle. The characters must first learn how to be soldiers and their strength has to grow with time in the ninja school. But with war looming over the country and the Blackthorn Clan as a dangerous threat, Sector 7 has to learn how to overcome the enemy fast.
If you had to choose a favorite character, who would it be and why?
Well, one of the characters in Sector 7 is named Luna and she is my alter ego. She’s the youngest of the team at only eight years old and I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on her character. She may be my most popular one! Luna is known for her quirky demeanor and off-the-wall comments. She’s a character that you can’t help but like.
What are you working on at the minute?
This interview and getting my promotions together for the sequel release of Poisoned Battleground.
Next, I’d like to go into your writing process. Many of our readers typically have questions on how an author completes a book or their thought process during it.
When did you decide to become a writer?
As long as I can remember, really. When I was younger (around 9-10) I remember thinking “One day I’ll be an author” and I never stopped thinking so. There was never a time in my life where I thought that I wouldn’t be a writer. I always knew that this was what I loved and this was what I wanted to do, whether it be a hobby or a profession.
Why do you write?
Because I enjoy it. Short, sweet, and to the point. Haha!
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
It’s always been a hobby and passion of mine. No one had to tell me to wake up at 5:00 in the morning and write until 7:00 when I had to stop and get ready for work. I chose to sacrifice my TV time and programmed myself to methodically work on my art. It’s something that I’ve done out of my own accord. I guess I made myself do it, but there was no argument whatsoever. I was happy to do it. To this day, I’m happy to wake up at 5:00, write, go through my day, and be in bed by 9:00 to do it all over again. Writing is my passion and a part of my life.
Do you write full-time or part-time?
Part time and whenever I have time. I try to write 3-4 days a week and promote as much as I can. As a self-published author there’s a lot of groundwork to cover, but I enjoy it. Reading, writing, editing, promoting, and repeat!
How do you structure your day, by word count, hours or by pages?
A little of all three, actually. I’ll sit down for two hours and sometimes I’ll only write 500 words, while other times I’ll get 2500 and feel AWESOME for the rest of the day.
Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?
Computer. I love my laptop. I take good care of it.
Where do your ideas come from?
A very crazy place in my mind. Haha! Well, I’m not entirely sure. I have a lot of inspiration from my karate class. It’s not just the lessons itself, I’m inspired by all my friends in class as well. Everyone has great camaraderie and I treasure it.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
When an idea takes me I’ll see where it goes. Or rather, this idea kidnaps me and holds me hostage until I write it down and it will finally release me. Then I can outline.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I’m bolder with my writing, I think. I wrote the first Shinobi 7 book when I was fourteen (finished when I was sixteen) and I didn’t have a grasp on certain emotions. What I mean by that is I was writing emotions and situations that I had never experienced, so there wasn’t as much as an impact. Since then, I’ve been through some things, and I have a better command over “what it’s like to be that character”. I write with more conviction.
Lastly, everyone’s favorite questions usually involve the editing process, so let’s get right to it.
Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?
My mom is my editor, actually. She was a school teacher so she’s used to reviewing, editing, and correcting. She edits the first round and I always go through and make the final edits.
What process do you use to proofread or edit your books?
I write the whole book first, go through it and edit, give it to my mom (official editor), let her edit, then go through it a third time for a final look.
Who edited your book and how did you select him/her?
My mom was free and happy to do it! I always give a nod to her work in my acknowledgments, which she appreciates.
Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about.
I had help from some of my favorite manga books for my visual construct.
Who designed your book cover/s?
I can happily say that I designed all of my covers and did the art for all the illustrations. It’s great to see how my art has evolved, even when comparing the 1st book and the 2nd book, both of which have illustrations.
How are you publishing this book and why?
I chose to self-publish because I wanted the freedom to promote/market myself in my own way. When I first made this decision, I was naïve to how much work that would take, but I don’t regret my decision. Perhaps in the future I’ll sign with a publisher but that will be on my terms and if I think it’s a win-win deal.
How do you market your books?
I keep track of all the events that go on in my state and try to schedule out my signings as early as I can. I prefer to sell books in person. As for online, I try to stay as active as I can online. I’ll be trying my luck in the Kindle world very soon, since my first book will be available on Kindle soon. Hoping for the best!
Do you have any advice for those who want to do Indie publishing, such as social media, marketing, giveaways and promoting sales?
The hardest thing for me has been to build a name for myself and an audience. That will take time and patience. Try not to get too stressed over it. Take it one day at a time. If you tell yourself you’ll spend two hours a day marketing and promoting, go ahead and do so! Something is better than nothing.
Thanks for answering those questions. Finally, let’s talk about you and what goals you have towards your writing.
How do you relax?
I like to relax by practicing karate and other physical activities in general. I love to run and play outside. Unless it’s really cold, then I’ll make do with dancing or something indoors!
What is your favourite book and why?
My favorite book is the Artic Incident Artemis Fowl #2 by Eon Colfer. The adventure and fast-paced action was so exciting for me! I read it when I was a younger kid and I was so thrilled. I remember when I read that book that I wanted to write something like that. Not copy Eon Colfer, I just wanted to write the same kind of intense and action-packed scene that he had done.
How do you get inspired to write?
Usually ideas will hit me out of nowhere. I’ll be driving home from work, in the middle of karate class, or flipping through TV channels and I’ll suddenly have any idea that gets me out of my writer’s block. I’m inspired by adventure/fantasy movies and novels. I love the classics like Lord of the Rings for example.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t care about what other people think and get writing! And stop messing around online, sit yourself down and write, missy! Something like that.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Love your work and be confident with it. Don’t psych yourself out and tell yourself it isn’t good enough, and don’t be too embarrassed to share your work with the world. So long as it’s what you and what makes you happy, that’s the important thing.
Where do you see publishing going in the future?
I’m not sure. My goal is to establish myself even more as an author and keep building up my audience. The good news is, the more I publish, the more I’m recognized, and I’ve got a lot more books coming. I’m excited for the future!
Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
Thank you very much for having me on your blog. I know I said so in the beginning but I’ll go ahead and say it again. You’ve been great to work with!
Lily also has thrown a for her release, showcasing Clash of the Clans, a Shinobi 7 short story.
You can discover Lily’s work from other venues, such as:
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00K1JBRH0
Book Links: http://goo.gl/2aUs4U