Thursday, January 16, 2020

#123 Inside the Emotion of Fiction "THE NINJA DAUGHTER" by Tori Eldridge

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****Tori Eldridge’s THE NINJA DAUGHTER  is #123 in the never-ending series called INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION where the Chris Rice Cooper Blog (CRC) focuses on one specific excerpt from a fiction genre and how that fiction writer wrote that specific excerpt.  All INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION links are at the end of this piece. 

Name of fiction work? And were there other names you considered that you would like to share with us? THE NINJA DAUGHTER. The novel was inspired by my short story published in Suspense Magazine’s Best of 2014 issue (Bottom Right). For a while, the novel and story shared the same title: “Call Me Dumpling.” I thought it was ironic and amusing to have my badass ninja warrior telling the world to call her Dumpling. But, of course, I knew who Lily Wong was and the history behind the nickname. Everyone else was confused and had no idea what kind of book they’d be reading. Was it a cozy, a chic lit, a cookbook?! Readers (and publishers) needed a title that would say exactly what this novel was about. When I finally came up with The Ninja Daughter, the title hit me like a palm to the face.

Fiction genre?  Ex science fiction, short story, fantasy novella, romance, drama, crime, plays, flash fiction, historical, comedy, movie script, screenplay, etc. The Ninja Daughter has been listed in several genre: thriller, mystery, crime fiction, women’s adventure, action thriller, and Asian literature.

Has this been published? And it is totally fine if the answer is no.   If yes, what publisher and what publication date? Published by Agora Books / Polis Books on November 5th, 2019
What is the date you began writing this piece of fiction and the date when you completely finished the piece of fiction? I began the novel in the Spring of 2015 and finished at the end of 2016, but I had to step away from it for a month, here and there, to write a couple of short stories for anthologies and to rewrite a manuscript my agent had in submission, for travel, and to care for my ailing parents. After it had been in submission a year, I rewrote it one more time and gave it the new title. That was the version that sold.

Where did you do most of your writing for this fiction work?  And please describe in detail. I’ve always been a kinetic person (former Broadway dancer and martial arts instructor), so the sedentary life of a writer was challenging for me. To combat leg cramps and back fatigue, I changed positions and locations throughout the day. I began each writing day by standing at the kitchen counter with my laptop on a wire platform. (Left)
          I didn’t sit down until twelve or one in the afternoon. Sometimes I wrote in silence. Other times, I’d danced salsa while thinking and typing. Needless to say, there were many typos.
In the afternoon, I’d move to my dining room table and either sit on a medicine ball or on a chair with my legs in the splits. (Right)

     I also enjoyed writing outside. Sundays were an especially nice work day for me. Here’s a shot of me writing The Ninja Daughter on our lanai while my producer husband reads a screenplay. (Left)
     This was a busy and challenging time for me. My father was in and out of the hospital that year, and I was constantly driving to San Diego to stay with my mother, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s. Several months later, my father recovered, but my mother passed away. My eldest sister and I accompanied my father to Hawaii to visit with family and friends and to scatter her ashes on Maui. A month after that, I traveled to Bali on a pre-scheduled book research trip. And through all of this, I wrote.

What were your writing habits while writing this work- did you drink something as you wrote, listen to music, write in pen and paper, directly on laptop; specific time of day? I drink a lot of tea, especially Chinese teas like Dragonwell and Lily Wong’s favorite Jin Xuan Milk Oolong from Taiwan.
I write in silence and while listening to music. It all depends on my mood.
I wrote the first draft of The Ninja Daughter on Scrivener. 
     It has a binder system where I can organize chapters by acts, write summaries, and even color code them according to characters or themes so I can see at a glance if I need to touch back with a particular story line relationship. I love this writing program because I can organize novels the way I always wrote screenplays. After it’s compiled into a Word document, I stay there for the edit and polish.
     Scrivener works wonderfully for me. It’s as if the designers jumped into my head and created a digital platform for my outlining madness.
     Once I signed a two book deal for The Ninja Daughter, I shelved this project. But one day it and the book preceding it will greet the world. In the meantime, I’m 40,000 words into a dystopian thriller than I’m really excited about.

What excerpt of the book was the most emotional for you to write? This excerpt can be as short or as long as you prefer.
“It took several minutes before I stopped shaking, before I had quieted my sobs and spit away all traces of his blood. It took a few more to crawl to my feet, where I swayed until my drugged body grew accustomed to standing. My clothes were ripped. My face and torso were covered in blood. But I was alive.

I was lucky.

I had spent years trolling for the man who had raped and murdered Rose, with only scant descriptions from eyewitnesses to guide me. I knew my fifteen-year-old sister had used a fake ID to get into one of the clubs that catered to the eighteen-plus crowd. I didn’t know if she had done it before.

Had she gotten scared? Had her friends ditched her? Was that why she had texted me? To come and get her?

I’d never know. I’d never responded.

I had abandoned Rose when she needed me most, and all I could do after her death was hunt down her murderer. I played bait in every underage haunt I could find and searched for the tall, blond twenty-something man with the strong jaw, predatory eyes, and out-of-place suit the witnesses had described. I had felt certain I would recognize his ill intent when he came to prey on me.

I was wrong.

I had fallen for his charms, just as my sister had, and had come close to suffering the same fate.

As I staggered away from that car and into the alley, covered in my sister’s killer’s blood, I made a promise to always remain vigilant and never accept what was presented. I would look deep and jump slow. And I would question everything. It would keep me alive. More than that, it helped me keep others alive.”

Why is this excerpt so emotional for you to write?  And can you describe your own emotional experience of writing this specific scene/excerpt? When I’m writing a scene, I embody my characters as I used to do as an actress. This scene had me in fight or flight mode all the way through and physically trembling in the aftermath. As I recall, it took quite a while and a strong cup of tea before I settled down.

Were there any deletions from this excerpt that you can share with us? And can you please include a photo of your marked up rough drafts of this excerpt. This excerpt is from a longer scene in the book that originated as a short story. I rewrote it many times to find the right tone for the novel, but I don’t have any rough drafts to share.

Other works you have published?

Empowered Living: A Guide to Physical and Emotional Protection

Short Stories
“Call Me Dumpling” – Suspense Magazine’s Best of 2014 issue
“Ace of Wands” -  Never Fear: The Tarot anthology
“Resistant” – Never Fear: The Apocalypse anthology
“Life After Breath” – Running Wild Anthology of Short Stories Volume 2

Anything you would like to add? The Ninja Daughter has been nominated for the Lefty Award for Best Debut Mystery Novel!
     And the second book in the Lily Wong series is scheduled to release September 1, 2020.

     Tori Eldridge is a Honolulu-born thriller writer. Her debut novel, The Ninja Daughter, is the first book in the Lily Wong series and was inspired by her debut short story featured in Suspense Magazine’s Best of 2014. Other short stories have been published in several anthologies, and her screenplay The Gift earned a semi-finalist place for the prestigious Academy Nicholl Fellowship.
     Tori is of Hawaiian, Chinese, Norwegian descent and graduated from Punahou School with classmate Barack Obama. She holds a fifth-degree black belt in To-Shin Do ninjutsu and has traveled the USA teaching seminars on the ninja arts, weapons, and women’s self-protection. Tori has performed under her maiden name (Tori Brenno) as an actress, singer, dancer on Broadway, television, and film. She and her husband, Tony, live in Los Angeles where they raised two wonderful sons. (Above Left: in October of 2019)



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