When I decided to try to build a self-publishing empire, my immediate idea was a series of novellas similar in style to the Marvel Cinematic Universe starring my own cast of comic-book-like superheroes. Creating that cast proved to be a bit of a challenge.
And then it hit me. I didn’t have to start fresh. I had already thought up a couple of characters that would fit the bill! All I have to do is retool them a little bit. Make them more “adult” than the twelve year old me would have made them.
So I thought some fun blog posts about Then and Now would be interesting as I gear up to release the first of this exciting series.
When twelve year old me wrote the first The Ninja story on an Apple II/e borrowed from our school for the summer, it was a whopping four pages. I don’t remember the name of the antagonist’s name any better than the protagonist’s, only that I didn’t know what research was back then so I just made up Japanese-sounding names for them.
I remember that one of their names was Osaka. I’m pretty sure it was this guy. My friend Pat, who also wrote stories, commented that Osaka was actually a city in Japan. Like twelve year old me would say, “What’s research?”
The primary villain of The Ninja then was based on Shredder from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as any twelve year old 90s kid learning to write stories and starting with ninjas would have done. Osaka, however, was dressed in black monk’s robes. Like a dark lord of the Sith, even though I wouldn’t watch Star Wars for a few more years.
When The Ninja defeated Osaka in battle, Osaka changed himself into a giant dragon (or a DragoNinja, as clever twelve year old me wrote) and spit fire into the sun. This increased energy would cause a supernova and destroy everything.
Because if you lose one battle, the logical thing to do would be to destroy yourself and the entire solar system in which you live. Biggest temper tantrum ever thrown. The Ninja was able to heroically knock the DragoNinja into the sun, saving everyone.
I was a really, really bad writer back then. Fortunately, I’ve improved.
I wanted to create a more realistic version for the upcoming novella. But I also wanted to include some homages to the original. First, I started with a real Japanese name, not just a few sylables that I threw together at random that kind of sound like they might form an Oriental name. Hinata Ukiyo can’t turn himself into an actual dragon, but he possesses the power to create and control fire. I wanted to visually inspire people to think of a dragon, so he favors lime green suits. He also refers to himself as “the DragoNinja,” which might be lame but I couldn’t part with it.
Instead of being the main villain, Hinata is a shadowy threat that Rod only encounters directly once. The astute reader finishes the book knowing that Hinata will be the main villain in a future installment of The Ninja, but for now he is left to wonder about the man himself and the crime lord he represents.
Gerald Lupus we will visit in a future blog. He is set to make a cameo in book #2, which I am (of course) hard at work on.
I close by mentioning that there is one last homage to the original Osaka in this updated character. The name Hinata means “toward the sun” in Japanese.