Last week, I got to interview Lorna Suzuki for The Movie Scrutineer. Lorna is the author of the Imago Chronicles, a fantasy series, and recently got her books optioned for a film adaptation by a pretty grand film production team. This is especially exciting because Lorna is an indie author – the Imago Chronicles are self-published. It’s an ongoing trend in the book world that more and more authors are choosing to publish their books themselves, through platforms such as Amazon, Smashwords, et cetera.

It’s a rare thing that an indie author gets her books optioned for a film adaptation, so we thought it would be great ask her how this got to be, and what the experience is like, for her. She’ll also tell us about her books (which sound awesome) and the plans for the films!

Manon: First of all, congratulations on getting your books optioned for film adaptation. That is awesome! Could you tell us a little about your books in your own words?

Lorna Suzuki: The Imago Chronicles consists of ten novels, of which the first three have been optioned for a major motion picture trilogy. It has an ensemble cast of characters featuring a powerful female protagonist. Being half-human and half-elf, and the only one of her kind, she is shunned by one race and denied by the other. The stories chronicle her rise from obscurity to become a legendary warrior and leader amongst the very people who keep her at arm’s-length. It was pitched to the industry as Lord of The Rings and 300 meets The Last Samurai, so right there, I can tell you it is NOT your traditional epic fantasy.

imago1M: What’s the plan for your books’ film adaptations? Your books were optioned as a trilogy – are there going to be three movies? 

LS: Yes! That’s the plan: three books are to be made into three movies. The first is in development now with full production scheduled to begin for this fall with plans for it to be filmed in Toronto, Ontario. And like The Hunger Games, I was told books two and three would be filmed back-to-back, depending on how the first performs at the box office, which is a wise move on the producers’ part.

M: When can we expect the movies, and do you know who are going to direct them and to star in them yet?

LS: The executive producer is in talks to secure a great director and, as casting is currently underway, with some A-list actors being considered for various roles, as soon as I know, you’ll be one of the first I’ll be happy to share this news with! The first film, based on Imago Chronicles: Book One A Warrior’s Tale is slated for worldwide theatrical release in late 2015.

M: Thank you, and that’s very exciting! What do you think makes your books especially fit for the big screen? 

LS: It’s a complex story about loyalty and betrayal, revenge and redemption, rolled up into a character-driven, action-packed tale with epic battle scenes in a fantasy world that will come to life on the big screen unlike any imaginary world that’s been seen before. I can say this because we are in the process of locking down a fabulous conceptual artist whose works have been immortalized in fantasy video games and on a number of films and popular TV series. His preliminary visuals for Imago have been nothing short of stunning!

 M: It seems to be an ongoing trend for books to be adapted to film. What distinguishes your books from all those other books that are being made into movies?

LS: I think the biggest trend in filmmaking lately has been adapting for the big screen YA novels, like The Hunger Games, The Mortal Instruments and Twilight. In my case, the Imago Chronicles were written for an adult audience or mature teenaged readers. Because of the adult content and graphic violence, my books will likely be adapted for a PG-13 film audience. Although it is a fantasy featuring Wizards, Elves and dragons, unlike the Harry Potter series, it is low on the magic spectrum. The heroes are usually left to their own devices in order to survive, as the one Wizard they rely on the most is rather incompetent with his skills. It is a fantasy world with a slightly Asian flair, especially where the martial arts are concerned, and where many think of the lean, spritely Legolas-type of Elves as depicted in Peter Jackson’s treatment of Lord of the Rings, be prepared for some strapping big, Spartan-like Elves; warriors that evolved for battle through a long, warring-history in this fantasy realm.

M: That sounds pretty neat, very different from what we’ve seen so far. So, you’re a self-published author, without the connections of the big publishers traditionally published authors have. How did you manage to get your books optioned for a movie adaptation?

LS: Most authors whose works have been optioned and made into film were typically bestselling traditionally published author with an agent that was able to pitch their work and negotiate a film deal. In my case, being an indie author definitely has had its challenges. I just happened to be on MTV Canada, doing an interview about my Imago series as well as a martial arts demo so the host of the show could get some sense of how the female character fights. My husband used my book as a weapon and a film producer just happened to watch this interview. You can view the video here.

The book stuck in her mind and she purchased and read the first 3 novels in the series. This was the start of a long odyssey to track me down. She flew me out to Toronto to meet with her and so she could tell me her intentions for the movie trilogy, if I were to allow her to option my novels. With two other producers voicing interest, she moved quickly to secure rights. I had the good fortune of having a wonderful entertainment lawyer negotiate the option agreement and the rest is history!

M: Will you continue to be an indie author, now that you’re venturing out into Hollywood? Is it possible?

 LS: That’s a good question, Manon! There’s been interest from the traditional publishing world for a while, but for now, I’m proudly indie! There seems to be a growing movement of Hybrid authors out there. There are traditionally published authors, even bestselling authors who are embracing the indie movement, self-publishing their own works as well as indie authors who are getting book deals with one of the Big 5, but they continue the business of self-publishing, so who knows what the future holds for me. I think if there’s a possibility of reaching more readers, especially in foreign markets, I can’t completely rule out traditional publishing in the future.

M: What’s the whole experience like for you? As this is your first time dipping into the world of the film industry, I can imagine it must be overwhelming.

LS:  It’s been interesting, to say the least! I’ve been brought on as a creative consultant, as the executive producer felt it was the best way to maintain integrity of this book-to-film adaptation. It’s been wonderful being invited to review and offer feedback on the first draft of the screenplay, recommend the conceptual artist, as well as provide a shortlist of my top pick of actors I could envision in various roles to make the job a little easier for the casting director to narrow down the search.

M: What do you think about the current popularity of fantasy in film and TV? 

LS: I think it’s wonderful! And I do believe the popularity is growing because of quality fantasy films like The Lord of the Rings trilogy and TV series like Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. When Peter Jackson directed the Lord of the Rings trilogy I can only imagine how many who never read J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels, or this genre in general, dove in head first to escape into this world of fantasy.

The Elves in Lorna Suzuki's Imago Chronicles are nothing like Legolas // source: New Line Cinema

The elves of the Imago Chronicles are nothing like Legolas, they sound pretty bad ass // source: New Line Cinema

M: Has the increased popularity of fantasy in the mainstream helped you to get your books optioned for the movies?

LS: There is always that possibility, but I think it’s a question better answered by the executive producer who optioned the rights and the Oscar-winning producer who signed on to co-produce the film adaptation of my novels! If anything, I believe watching a movie is a form of entertainment that allows the audience to escape their day-to-day life for a little while. When you have a great story, compelling characters, and heart-stopping action all mixed into a fantasy film, it becomes like the ultimate form of escapism! And in this crazy world, who doesn’t want to escape every now and then?

M: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions, Lorna! Is there anything else you’d like us to know?

LS: I’d like the fans of the Imago series to know they should feel confident that the film adaptation of my fantasy is in good hands. I believe the executive producer partnering with veteran producer Don Carmody will be just the right team to make sure Imago receives the big screen treatment that will bring this world and its characters to life in grand fashion! Mr. Carmody has over 100 films to his credit and his work on Good Will Hunting and the musical Chicago has garnered two Oscars. He has cultivated a huge following of fans worldwide for his Resident Evil franchise, so I do believe he is one producer up for the challenges of creating the Imago world. Just check out his show reel! 

Thank you so much for taking the time to ask these questions, Manon! There will be more news on the movie front in the near future!

You can find Lorna on her website, Twitter and on Youtube, and you can find her books on Amazon – check out her first here – A Warrior’s Tale (Imago Chronicles: Book One) - it’s just US$3,99!

I haven’t yet had the chance to read Lorna’s books, but after the interview, I have to say I was very much enticed to go read them. The story sounds quite fascinating and not like anything we’ve seen on the big screen so far, so I’m excited to see what this is going to be like! I wish you all the best of luck during the film making process, Lorna!

Readers! What do you think about this book adaptation? Does it sound interesting to you? What do you think about the increased popularity of fantasy?

Do you have any questions for Lorna? Hopefully, we can do another interview with her in the future to get an update of where they’re at!

P.S. if you enjoyed this interview, please share it on the social media! Both I and Lorna would really appreciate it!