TJ and I met when I helped her as a publicist. After the short campaign, we have stayed in touch and cheered each other through writing and personal ups and downs. She's a prolific author, a writer who knows her audience and and all around fun, sassy gal!
Me: What motivated you to start writing?
TJ: The art of storytelling was ingrained in me from a very young age. When I was little I used to sit and listen to my grandfather tell spooky/mysterious stories about strange things that would happen to people he knew. Though they were mostly superstitious tales, I was mesmerized by them. I then tried my own hand at telling scary tales at birthday parties and sleepovers. It was a blast capturing the attention of anyone that listened to my stories.
I was a straight ‘A’ student in writing, creative writing and English and took typing and business classes in school. Other than that I had no formal training.
I started off getting Star Wars fan-fiction published on websites. I then moved on to original short stories, some of which I got paid for. I learned the publishing business and published 8 mystery books for YA many, of which, have become very successful.
Me: Tell me a little bit about your latest book Art of the Ninja - Earth (Shadow Legacy) .
TJ: The story is set in modern day Japan and involves Duncan, a teen assassin in training. Something is growing and developing within Duncan and it’s feeding off his teen anger, hormones and frustration. He doesn't understand it and is under a great deal of pressure to keep control for when he gets mad it’s not a simple anger fit – it’s fatal to all those around him and his own people could turn against him to stop it. All ninja of the Chiao have special abilities and they are at an age to tap into everything they are capable of. The Shimoshuki are a rival clan that hate the Chiao and a foreign power has enlisted their assistance to take possession of a great artifact Duncan’s village keeps hidden, while hopefully killing of the Chiao in the process. Among the rivals is a kunoichi that decides to take matters into her own hands. She wants Duncan’s powers for herself and will go to great lengths to be the victor.
This story is alternate reality fantasy and is for ages 16+ due to violence and graphic killings. You’ll witness the beginning of magic skills, touching on the boarders of the Dark Ninja Arts and forbidden magic, and watch Duncan tap into the unknown entity that wants to take him over.
Me: What motivates Duncan?
TJ: Duncan wants to be chosen for the Black Dragons, an elite special forces team of 12 men that are assassins unlike any other. His father, grandfather and uncle were all Black Dragons and he wants to follow in their Shadow Legacy. This won’t happen if he cannot control the raging anger growing inside him, but it’s not just temper fits – it’s a deadly force that could wipe out mankind. Training, a love interest, teen peer pressure and the growing energy inside him all play a part and Duncan must keep it all under control or his own people will be forced to destroy him.
Me: Are your characters based upon people from your life?
TJ: Shadow Legacy was born in the dark recesses of my mind while taking my son to martial arts classes. I took an interest in my son’s love of Japanese martial arts because I had taken Kung Fu for 2 years in my early 20’s and loved it. He started at the age of 5 and by the time he was 11 I had found a traditional Ninjitsu school. For 1 ½ years I sat and watched the training and how his abilities grew. With it came teenage anger issues and frustration – thus the basis of Duncan was born.
The other characters are based on personalities from my friends and my son’s friends.
Me: Who was your favorite character to write?
TJ: Morgan (he shows up in book 2)
Me: Where is your book available?
TJ: Personal website to see book covers, read sample pages and brief plot summaries – www.authorsden.com/tjperkins
Silver Leaf Books www.silverleafbooks.com
Also, Nook and iPad and any bookstore, just go the counter and order.
Me: Who are you reading right now?
TJ: Walking Among the Dead by Ken Lang. True stories from a homicide detective.
Me: Who are your favorite authors?
TJ: Agatha Christie, Sir Conan Author Doyle and Alexander Dumas
Me: What is your advice for new or aspiring authors?
TJ: Show – don’t tell. Detail is the key, but only to the point to where your reader can see the story in their mind’s eye. Many kids ask me how I get my stories so detailed and I tell them: While I’m writing, many times I’ll close my eyes and type out the story while it’s playing in my mind.
Also, this is going to be a long, drawn-out process. It’s not something that will happen over night and don’t quit your day job. Sound familiar? But it’s all true! If writing is your true passion then stick with it, perfect it, learn from it and try not to be so sensitive when you get shot down. Be tough, tenacious and grown thick skin.