August 9th 2021 marks the 9th year that I published The Silver Ninja and is also Cindy’s 9th birthday which falls on August 9th. I originally planned to post this August 9th but the real world threw a wrench in my plans.
Since I have already written extensively about how I created The Silver Ninja. I decided it would be fun to share some secret fun facts that no one knows. Not even my most hardcore fans.
So here we go!
1. Cindy is from New Jersey, not New York.
Believe it or not, Cindy is not a homegrown New Yorker. She is Jersey strong, born and raised. Name a location in NJ and Cindy can recount a family trip somewhere in the Garden state. From family picnics at Bass River State Forest to working at a fruit bowl shop in Ocean City, she has been everywhere within the state.
There are a lot of reasons why Cindy is not a New York native, for starters, New York-born heroes are an oversaturated market. Ironman, Spider-man, Captain America, all of those guys are from New York.
New Jersey gets little respect and representation even though it one of the most densely populated states on the east coast. So Cindy scores one for my home state.
(All right before I get flak for this. I am aware that Kamala Khan is from Jersey City. I don’t count Jersey City because it’s practically mini New York and is literally across the bridge. If there aren’t suburbs, a shore, farmland, diners, malls, it ain’t Jersey enough.)
2. Cindy’s birthday being on the same day that I launched The Silver Ninja facebook page was pure coincidence.
Confession time: I based Cindy’s birthday off of a former celebrity crush. Although I no longer fawn over this celebrity, I decided to stick with the birth date because Cindy seemed like a Leo anyway.
I didn’t know the facebook page launched on the same day until I went through some archival photos. I saw the creation date at the top and found myself completely surprised that I gave Cindy the same birthday as my FB page.
3. The Silver Ninja was only supposed to be two books.
When I first wrote The Silver Ninja, I only intended to write two books. The reason stems from the movies I watched as a kid. If it is a trilogy, most people will say they liked the second movie the best. No one likes Godfather 3, but everyone loves Godfather 2. People liked Return of the Jedi, but fans love Empire Strikes Back. Terminator 2 is the greatest sequel of all-time.
I wanted The Silver Ninja to be Terminator 2. Nothing could come after it to spoil the series. Unfortunately, when I completed the first version of The Silver Ninja in 2012, I realized the story was much larger than two books. I didn’t have a conclusion to the story because there were more stories to tell. I also created a villain who fascinated the hell out of me.
This villain has not yet made an appearance in the reboot. But don’t worry, she’ll be back and she’ll be deadlier than ever.
4. Cindy’s birth year and the year her story takes place is intentionally vague.
Our definition of the “present” and the “future” change with time. What is the future can become the past. I never thought I would see video conferencing technology from Back to the Future Part II in my lifetime. Now it’s included with your smart phone.
Establishing a specific year locks my world to that timeline. So if someone was born before World War 2, you are going to expect the technology and culture to be based on pre-war and post-war aesthetics.
If I say the story takes place in the year 3000, what I consider futuristic might be old news by 2029. So I decided to keep the year vague in order to have the flexibility to go into the far future.
If I finish all books, I may decide to stamp them all with official dates.
5. Why is it called The Silver Ninja and not The Silver Kunoichi?
Superfan Chris Martin emailed me this great question and though I answered, I wanted to share a more elaborate version of my response with you all.
The word ‘ninja’ describes a general practitioner of ninjutsu. The craft of being a ninja.
A Shinobi is a male ninja.
Kunoichi is a female ninja.
So you can understand why Chris asked this excellent question. The Japanese already invented gendered words, why not use them? Well, the reason I use ninja instead of kunoichi is painfully simple. The Silver Ninja is easier to pronounce and easier to understand.
Kunoichi is not a common word in the United States, and quite frankly, neither is shinobi.
Although the gendered definitions are correct, most people know the word ninja. A person that dresses in black, disappears in shadows, and throws ninja stars.
But this too is an incorrect definition! Real ninjas were peasants that knew the terrain of their countryside. The black pajamas weren’t a thing until a Kabuki play showed a person in black kill a character and disappear into the black background. They were the feudal version of CIA spies. They blended in with their surroundings by dressing up as farmers (or they were actual farmers), monks, and used these disguises to gather intelligence on enemy troops.
But America is led by pop culture. Therefore, ninja is what Americans associate with someone who can climb walls, do flips, fight, and assassinate people with swords. Now, if Cindy ever takes a trip to Japan . . . that’s another story.
6. I once created a Silver Ninja trailer using MSPaint.
Yes, it’s true. Back when I had free time and no life, I embarked on a project to animate The Silver Ninja to the song Hero by Chad Kroger and Josey Scott. I spent almost half a year painstakingly drawing and coloring 649 frames of animation.
I started the animation for fun. But then I needed to turn in a final project for my TV class in college. My classmate and I decided to film a live news segment over a blue screen background to introduce The Silver Ninja. After the segment we would play my animation.
Although I was proud of the work, I ultimately got a B because I did not use enough live action segments. The grade was a let down. But I wasn’t nearly as pissed as my classmate was. She only knew a world of getting straight A’s and my project ruined that streak.
Unfortunately, no copy of this final project currently exists.
7. Sometimes I regret basing the novel in New York City.
Don’t get me wrong. New York City is a cool place with lots to see and lots to do. But when I wrote The Silver Ninja, I was a kid who had never visited the city. I thought Cindy needed to be there because all the popular superheroes I knew were from there.
It wasn’t until I became an adult and worked in the city for a few years that I realized how limiting NYC could be creatively, especially with the added rule that the world is semi-realistic.
- First, you have to have a full understanding of all five boroughs in order to create the appropriate setting for the story. For example: there are NO SUBURBS IN MANHATTAN. So no one is living in a two story house with a front lawn, driveway, and white picket fence in Manhattan. If you want that setting, you have to move the location to Queens, Long Island, Staten Island, or some town in North Jersey. This is the only reason Cindy lives in Queens.
- Second, it is more difficult to introduce a criminal element. Every important law agency such as the FBI and DEA are located in Manhattan. So when I want to introduce an external criminal element while following semi-realistic rules, it becomes extremely difficult to do so. The law enforcement either has to be corrupt or incompetent in order for me to believably introduce criminal organizations.
- Third, you also need to have an understanding of what ethnic groups live in what areas and there . . . are . . . a lot . . . I suppose you don’t really have to follow the rules and can make up your own. But then it’s not really New York City.
Sometimes I feel like Philadelphia or Detroit would have been a better choice for setting. New York City feels kind of played out. Oh well.
8. Why is Cindy white instead of Latina?
Have you seen my wife? Just kidding. So this is a question that has come up a few times. Why did I, a Latino/Hispanic author, not make Cindy Latina. She speaks Spanish, lives in New York City, and has a Latino husband.
All right, so let’s one-hundred percent be brutally honest here. Cindy’s appearance is based off of the original Pink Ranger because I had a massive crush on her. (I’m starting to sense a theme here.) Yes, I have a type and I married into that type. Ha ha ha.
I want you guys to remember that I came up with the idea of The Silver Ninja when I was 17 years old. I grew up influenced by white heroes and white culture. Out of everyone in my school, I was definitely a minority. The only time I was around other Hispanic people was when I was with my family or attending family run events.
As a result, I eventually grew to embrace white culture and created characters based off of those experiences. It’s no secret that I like white girls, my wife is one, so I created a hero based on that appearance.
Now that I’ve experienced more of the world and have worked in New York City, I think Cindy might not have turned out white if created in 2021. Maybe half white, half something else, but probably not fully white. At the age I am now, I’d much rather see more minorities have a chance at taking a lead role. Representation in media is important.
I intentionally skipped watching Marvel’s Iron Fist because I had zero interest in seeing another white guy study Eastern martial arts in order to become powerful. Shang Chi is much more interesting because not only is the hero non-white, we also have an opportunity to see more of his culture.
This is why the video game Sleeping Dogs is still one of my favorite open world games of all time. Our hero is a Chinese American who goes over to Hong Kong for some undercover work. As a result, we get to have a tiny taste of what life is like on the other side of the world.
There’s just something oddly refreshing about seeing the world through someone else’s eyes that is not your own race.
Still, Cindy will always be Cindy, a white girl from Jersey. If something happens where Cindy needs to temporarily go out of action, then I may have a Latina or African American character take over. The mask fits all.
9. There was an alternate plot twist in A Bitter Winter that would have left readers shocked.
When it came time to reboot The Silver Ninja, I had toyed around with a lot of different ideas to make the book feel more sci-fi. One of these ideas almost made the cut.
Before I decided on the current plot twist, I was going to go in a completely different direction that would have been totally sci-fi. After sustaining a grievous injury, Cindy would pull at her skin and discover a complex system of metal rods and rubber tubes instead of bones. When she confronts Jonas about it, he confesses a dark secret.
He tells Cindy that she did in fact, die at the beginning of the book. There was no magic formula to heal her wounds. Rather than let this be the end, Jonas instead transfers Cindy’s consciousness into a cyborg body. And throughout the book I had planned to leave subtle clues to this revelation. For instance, Cindy would ask Jonas why he never wanted to sleep with her or touch her.
Although this concept isn’t original, it was extremely tempting. Ultimately, I abandoned this plot thread simply because it wouldn’t be Cindy. It would look like her, act like her, talk like her, but it wouldn’t be her. I didn’t want to build a series on the shoulders of a robot.
Well that’s all the fun facts I have for you. I am happy that The Silver Ninja has survived 9 years and I am glad you all have stuck with me during that time. Progress on Narco Hotel has picked back up. I’m optimistic that we’ll be hearing more about this book soon.