Wilmar Luna graduated in 2008 with a degree in video editing and motion graphics design at Mercer County Community College in New Jersey. A longtime fan of the superhero genre, he began his editing career – with screen credits in many (many) indie films as well as freelance work for the NFL.
He even worked on Grand Theft Auto V and cutscenes of Red Dead Redemption 2 on the cinematics team at Rockstar Games before joining the literary world.
If you want to write, practice first. Read far and wide. Read fiction, non-fiction, read sci-fi, read romance, read horror, read how-to books, read on craft, read On Writing. Read, read, read, and look at those works with a critical eye.
He wrote his first book, The Silver Ninja and Indoctrination (The Silver Ninja Prototype series) in 2012 and 2014, respectively.
They follow the life of Cindy Ames who stumbles upon her husband’s top secret weapons project…which manages to meld with her body and forever change her life.
Once you’ve read, write. Write short, write long, write poems, write prose, write the mundane, write about life, write about your experiences, write a story. Write it again, write it again, write it again, edit, edit, edit. You see the repetition? This is the key, it’s called practice.
But then, as a more seasoned author, he took a long, hard look at his first book and decided (like many a-famous comic book writers) that it could use a reboot. And so, he began again – rewriting, editing and polishing it up as A Bitter Winter (which has been received very positively by his audience)
I’ve had the honor and the pleasure of reading A Bitter Winter – and let me tell you, it was a wild, wild ride. Such a fun comic-slash-adventure-book – and Cindy, wow. She stole my heart.
Stay tuned – there’s a book funnel link (active for 90 days) if you’d like a free copy of A Bitter Winter (such a fun book!).
Without further ado, here’s Seven Questions on a Sunday with Wilmar Luna!
1) What does a typical day of writing look like for you?
My day looks like everyone else’s around the world . . . full of distractions. Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, video games, movies, TV shows, all of them fight for my attention. The more difficult the project, the more distracted I become. Even with an outline to guide me, it’s still a struggle. An outline may help me know what’s coming next, but it doesn’t tell me how to get there.
When I find my groove, I typically write anytime and anywhere. Sometimes this can be a midnight scribble or an afternoon freewrite. I only get on a set schedule once I’m editing. Less brainstorming is required when placing or removing a comma.
2) Your book, A Bitter Winter (The Silver Ninja series book 1), was an incredibly fun take on the superhero genre. Could you talk a little about its literary journey?
I love this question but keeping my answer short is going to be next to impossible.
The concept started with a question: Do you think it’s fair that female readers don’t have as many original female superheroes to choose from?
Even as a six year old child, I could tell that the selection between diverse female superheroes was limited. Asides from Wonder Woman, name three female superheroes that had their own comic books. The catch is, they cannot be derivatives of male superheroes and cannot be a part of an ensemble.
The three I came up with are Captain Marvel, Jessica Jones, and Black Canary.
Supergirl, Batgirl, Batwoman, She-Hulk, Spider-Gwen, Spider-woman, are all out. All of them are derivatives of male heroes.
Storm, Jean Grey, Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, are also out because they are part of an ensemble. (I know Black Widow has her own comics, but she is most recognizable from being in the Avengers.)
As a kid who loved She-Ra, and Jem and the Holograms, I constantly searched for new heroines that had human flaws and deep stories. They did not exist.
I also hated the lack of variety in body shapes and costumes. I was especially annoyed that female characters with super strength were always drawn with stick figure arms, planet sized breasts, and eclipse causing buttocks.
As someone who is a proponent of female empowerment, this didn’t appeal to me. Where was the female version of Batman that wasn’t a knock off of Batman?
Where was the female version of the Punisher that did NOT fight crime in a bikini? Even though we’ve made significant progress, I still feel that stories with gravitas featuring a female lead are in the minority. Remember that we didn’t get our first Wonder Woman film until 2017. The most popular female superhero in the world had to wait 78 years for a film. Superman, 40.
Could you imagine if the Netflix Punisher show featured a female lead instead of the excellent Jon Bernthal? That would never happen. Except it does . . . in my stories. Cindy is not as savage as Frank, but she does get her hands dirty.
I created The Silver Ninja as the antithesis to most female superhero tropes. She has big strong muscles; both parents are alive; she’s married; she makes mistakes; and the plot cannot move forward without her. She doesn’t need a man but she chooses to have one.
The Silver Ninja is a technology powered woman with a wicked sword, superhuman strength, impregnable armor, and gadgets galore. But when the mask is off, she reverts to an everyday woman who is not always confident in her decisions. She gets tired, sick, and lazy, just like the rest of us.
You will never see Wonder Woman watch her diet in order to maintain her shape. Cindy, on the other hand, will eat junk food when depressed and gain weight as a consequence.
I hope Cindy can someday have the same reputation as Batman, except she would be kinder and less prone to use violence as a solution.
But in order to do that, I needed to tell the world she existed.
I wrote the original draft for The Silver Ninja in a period of three days. It was terrible, but I had no plans of publishing it. The story was a fleeting dream, an expression of jumbled thoughts.
It took a whole decade before I realized that Marvel and DC weren’t going to publish the stories I wanted to read. Wonder Woman was too perfect and Captain Marvel was too boring. Jessica Jones is a jerk and Black Widow has no personality.
Where were the noble renegades? The warrior queens? The brilliant detectives?
I decided that I didn’t want a publishing company to own or market The Silver Ninja. If Marvel and DC can’t tell or market the story I want, how could a traditional publisher?
I could have pitched Cindy to Marvel but I didn’t want them to have her. I didn’t want them to erase her marriage to Jonas by summoning the devil and I didn’t want her to be turned into a clone of a clone of another clone.
If The Silver Ninja was going to become a “thing.” I had to be the one to do it.
Createspace (now KDP Publishing) was my opportunity to do just that.
I planned to turn The Silver Ninja into a 5 book series, but something went terribly wrong.
I can’t lie about this part because the facts are on the internet, forever. The 2012 version of The Silver Ninja was a critical flop. “Awful main character, corny plot, and amateur prose,” were the nice things people said over a pit of gnashing, savage reviews.
What could I do? I was a new and inexperienced author. I was just happy to have published a book. I didn’t know what I didn’t know about craft and technique.
That ignorance led me to writing and publishing a sequel. I hadn’t yet learned my lesson.
Although book two got much better reviews, I knew something was wrong. I kept thinking about how awful book one was and how I didn’t want people to read it. Usually it’s the sequel that sucks, not the other way around.
As much as I didn’t want to do it, I had to rewrite book one. You can’t ask people to skip the origin story of your hero. A Bitter Winter became the Christian Bale Dark Knight to my George Clooney first edition. Not everyone likes the voice, but the characters and story are so much better.
The reboot has currently paid off. A Bitter Winter has earned a consistent rating between five and four stars. However, I could always use more reviews. If you’re interested in scoring a free copy for yourself, stick around until the end. No contests or random drawing gimmicks.
3) What is the most challenging part about being a writer? What suggestions do you have for aspiring authors to overcome those challenges?
Get the most time-intensive research done first.
Research is one of the biggest time sinks an author will encounter and one of the most frustrating.
Let’s say you’re writing a story about police officers and your protagonist is a police lieutenant. If a hostage situation occurs, would they send your lieutenant or a captain to respond?
If you’re lucky, you’ll find an article that will answer your question in seconds. In most cases, you’ll stumble into a Wikipedia article that leads you to a website that leads you to an article that leads you to another website and now it’s four am. Oh, and guess what? Your research has led you to writer’s block.
Why writer’s block? During your research, because your antagonist took hostages in a bank, you discovered that an FBI negotiator, not the police, would be sent to handle the crisis. Your lieutenant is now relegated to spectating their own scene.
Had you done your research beforehand this problem would have been avoided. You would have known before writing the scene to have your villain take hostages in a house, not a bank.
Frontload the work to avoid a bigger headache later.
4) One thing that I am always curious about is the secret little tidbits that authors know about but the audience may not. Could you share with us that something that only you know about your books
There is a reference to a dessert that I make mention of in some of my books. This reference is specifically related to an awful simile I had written in the first novel. Rather than pretend I never wrote it, I now use the dessert as a running gag throughout the Silver Ninja books. Readers I’ve had since the beginning know the joke and happily point it out to me when they find it.
Also, the names of the employees in the Lucent Labs team are an amalgamation of renowned video game developers, except for one.
I can’t share any of the secret backstories I’ve written for my characters because I may explore these stories at a later date. One of those stories might be about Jadie’s (Cindy’s sister) career-ending disaster while in the Coast Guard. I may even talk about how a life surrounded by drug abuse derailed Jonas’s (Cindy’s husband) plans of becoming a fighter pilot.
5) Do you have any writing projects in the works? If so, could you give us a sneak peek at them? (i.e. a few short sentences about what you plan to write next)?
There are two projects in the works. Unfortunately, I can only talk about The Silver Ninja at this time. I will say that the other project is in the paranormal horror genre. Ghosts, demons, possessions, evil worshippers, etc.
In this follow up to A Bitter Winter, NYPD Police Commissioner Gates is on the brink of losing his job. An innocent teen had been shot and killed by a police officer whom suspected him of being a drug dealer for the DeMarco’s Cartel. While the Commissioner’s hands are tied in politics, the DeMarco’s Cartel is expanding and threatening to turn New York City into the next Juarez, Mexico.
Unable to kill drug dealers with his police force, Commissioner Gates is left with no other choice but to recruit an assassin to secretly eliminate the cartel leaders.
But Cindy Ames a.k.a. The Silver Ninja, doesn’t want to be a killer for hire. In fact, she’s so traumatized by the lives she’s already taken, she’s doesn’t even want to put on the suit.
Commissioner Gates cannot take no for an answer and gives Cindy an ultimatum. If she doesn’t kill the cartel leaders, he will release evidence linking her involvement in the murder of a U.S. Senator.
Does she risk having a nervous breakdown by taking another life? Or does she take her chances and become America’s Most Wanted?
Release date: TBA.
6) What was your favorite scene to write in A Bitter Winter? (and why?)
You may be surprised to know that although I have a reputation for writing exciting action scenes, I don’t always enjoy writing them. There’s a constant pressure to do something bigger and more exciting than the last action sequence. As you can imagine, that’s a tough standard to live up to.
That being said, I enjoyed the hell out of writing the chapter where Cindy goes to rescue her husband. Not only did I get to have fun exploring her trauma through hallucinations and illness, I also got to write an exhilarating action scene where Cindy is being destroyed by mercenaries.
I like this scene because it plays out in a unique way that wouldn’t happen to other female superheroes. Wonder Woman would deflect the bullets with her bracelets; Black Widow would beat up all the men without breaking a sweat; and She Hulk would have smashed the place with her rippling muscles.
Cindy cannot do these things. Yes, she can overcome the mercenaries in hand to hand but only with the added strength of the suit. Without it, a taller, heavier man would overpower her smaller stature. I’m not saying she’s defenseless, but her limitations are based on reality. I prefer stories where the physically weaker woman becomes stronger or fights her hardest to win. Invincible characters are boring.
Watch the Wonder Woman, and Captain Marvel films. Pay attention to what happens to the heroines after they’ve been in a fight. Even Rey from Star Wars suffers the same problem.
No matter how tough the fight, how skilled the opponent, they don’t bleed. They don’t fail. They don’t suffer. Cindy does. And despite being outmatched, out gunned, and ready to collapse, she still keeps going.
Companies are afraid to let their heroes, especially female ones, fail. I’m not.
7) According to your bio, you are a lonnnnng time superhero fan. How has that influenced your career? Also, who are your top three superheros? (and why)?
Being a long time superhero fan is only one variable in the equation that is my writing career. In order to explain why, I’ll answer the “top three superheroes” question first.
Captain America: The patriot. I love that he has all the good qualities of Superman but isn’t immortal. Cap was born scrawny, weak, and small. Yet, even at his weakest, he still tried to help others. Superman will never know or understand what it feels like to be physically powerless.
Batman: Batman is a man without super powers and is still feared by heroes and villains alike. He has a brilliant intellect, supreme fighting ability, and can be killed by a regular bullet. Even though he’s one of the best fighters and in the best shape of his life, he still gets hurt and doesn’t always win easily.
Kimberly, the pink Power Ranger: Yes, I was a Power Rangers kid and I had a major crush on Kimberly. Not only was she beautiful, she was kind, fierce, and an excellent fighter. I also loved that she didn’t pick on Billy the nerd. As a fellow geek, it made me happy to see that Billy could be friends with a beautiful girl.
Naturally, I got insanely jealous when Kimberly and Tommy started dating. But I’m sure I’m not the only one who got jealous, right . . . right? Okay . . . awkward.
Without Kimberly to establish the foundation of what I thought a heroine could be, I don’t think I would have dreamt of The Silver Ninja. At the same time, if I were only exposed to Power Rangers and not the video game character, Grey Fox, I still wouldn’t have come up with The Silver Ninja.
And if I hadn’t watched She-Ra, I don’t think I would have imagined stories where Kimberly was the leader of the Power Rangers. I know they answered this question in Power Rangers Time Force, but I was too old by the time that show came out.
Each life experience has played an integral role in the creation of my heroine. Superheroes were a big part, but my experience with video games, and a sample of strong female characters in media were equally as important. Thus, without all these variables, the ninja wouldn’t exist.
Well I have rambled on for long enough. Thank you Miranda for hosting me on your blog. And THANK YOU to those of you who stuck around and read this whole thing. I had a great time answering these questions and only wish my answers could have been A LOT shorter.
As promised to readers who have gotten this far, I am offering a free download of A Bitter Winter, exclusive to Miranda’s blog for 90 days after the publishing of this article.
Click the Book Funnel link below to get your free copy.
Thank you for reading!
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