Hi Ken! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview about Katana Sandan and The Katana Series!
What inspired you write this series?
I grew up reading/watching all the big, epic, hero's quest stories--starting with Narnia, LOTR/Hobbit, Star Wars--and then of course Harry Potter when I was much older. I've always loved that kind of story. And when I was starting out in martial arts, I heard all sorts of myths and legends about masters with mysterious powers. I always thought it would be awesome to read an epic fantasy story that took advantage of that mythology. Nobody ever did, so I finally took it on myself!
How many books are you planning to write in the series?
There are 5 books in my Katana series. I finished the last one back in 2012.
Do your characters have control of the story, or do you have all the control?
Well, I start out with most of the control, when I'm doing the general outlines. By the time I get to the chapter outlines, the characters start to take over. And by the time I'm writing, they get most of the control. I've literally had entire story arcs spring from characters' interactions, that I'd never realized would be there until I got to the writing.
Are any of your characters based on real people in your life?
There are two. One is a prominent secondary character throughout the entire series. The other isn't introduced until the final novel. Both were students of mine from my days as a martial arts instructor.
Who is your favorite character in the series to write?
The main character, Katana, no question. She transforms so much through the series, as she's confronted with all these obstacles and challenges. Developing her in the face of adversity and tragedy was super intense--especially in the later books.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I love outlining, and unlike the vast majority of authors I know, I *love* editing. Tweaking the plot, adding/reworking scenes, etc. is highly enjoyable to me. The actual writing of the first draft is my least favorite part. Beyond that, the best part, really, is getting feedback from readers who have read and loved the books. Nothing beats that!
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Killing off main characters. Man, that's tough. There are two deaths in particular in the last two books that actually reduced me to sobbing. And I turn into a blubbering mess every time I read/edit those passages, too.
Are you planning writing any spinoff series? Perhaps a prequel series?
You know, for a long time, I wasn't. At all. The story is finished at the end of book five. But... lately, I've been reconsidering. I have a couple of main threads I may pick up one day. I don't think I'd do a prequel series, only because you learn so much about the history of this world in the third, and especially the fourth book. But there's one giant loose end in book four that I could spin off to a sequel series. We'll see.
Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel are influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing?
That's easy: J.K. Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkien. There have been others, but those two taught me what I truly, deeply love about reading and storytelling.
Do you have anything else you want to say to your readers and fans?
Only that they can download the first book for FREE! Haha... And that I hope they enjoy reading the series as much as I enjoyed writing it! (Link to get book 1 for free is below)
Ken Warner grew up reading fantasy and science fiction. His first experiences in these genres included The Chronicles of Narnia and The Hobbit. Early in his high school years, he began training in martial arts. Right away he started hearing legends of martial arts masters who could use their internal chi energy to accomplish seemingly supernatural feats. This mythology always fascinated him and he wished someone would incorporate it into an epic fantasy story. Nobody ever did, so finally in 2006 he took it upon himself.
Ken wrote Katana Shodan: The Scroll of the Five Masters in November of that year. He followed it up with the second book, Katana Nidan: The Unwritten Koan in December. Since then he has completed all five books in the series.
Ken has practiced various martial arts for 30 years–including kempo, kung fu, and tai chi. He holds a 5th degree black belt in kempo karate. He graduated from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT in 1993 with a BA in English and astronomy. He has taught martial arts professionally ever since. From 2006 to 2012, Ken served as the assistant coach for 100 Percent Performance, one of the top sport karate teams in the country. Members of the team won numerous world championships in forms, weapons, and team demo.