The Origin of The Silver Ninja:

The original idea for The Silver Ninja came into existence around 1999 or so. A year after the game Metal Gear Solid was released on the original Playstation. My cousin and I wanted a game to play and we had a membership card to Hollywood Video. Back then there were no streaming or gamefly services, you had to go to the store and physically pick a game you wanted to play or a movie you wanted to watch. The good ol’ days. Anyway, as I began to play Metal Gear Solid, taking turns with my cousin whenever one of us died, I found myself awestruck by how cinematic the game was for its time. There were camera pans, tracking shots, tilts, special effects, all rendered on graphics which looked slightly better than Legos.

Even with these rudimentary graphics, I became engrossed with the characters and the story of a lone commando (Solid Snake) going in to take down an elite Special Forces unit called Foxhound. After defeating Revolver Ocelot in the first boss battle of the game, a mysterious cybernetic ninja appears and slices off Ocelot’s hand. The ninja was agile, inhumanely strong, and wielded a wicked sword which cut through anything. The ninja’s name was Gray Fox.

Gray fox from Metal Gear.

Gray Fox Copyright Konami and Kojima Productions.

Eventually you fight Gray Fox inside of a server room using only your fists and no guns. Computers and servers are destroyed as Fox cartwheels and smashes everything with his cybernetic hands and feet. Once you defeat him, Gray Fox reveals himself to be Snake’s old friend, Frank Jaeger. Throughout the rest of the game Fox helps bail Snake out of sticky situations and eventually sacrifices himself to save Snake’s life. The sacrifice he made turned Gray Fox into a legend within my impressionable young mind. And even after the game’s credits rolled, I wondered . . .

What if Gray Fox had been a woman?

Later in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Olga Gurlukovich becomes a female Cyborg Ninja. Unfortunately, she was a poor man’s Grey Fox, lacking in personality and presence.

I didn’t start writing The Silver Ninja until 2002. As a teen, I didn’t take my writing very seriously. I wrote stories for my friends because I enjoyed listening to their reactions through instant messenger or voice chat. This meant I could take my time with The Silver Ninja, brainstorming on how she looked. I knew I wanted the costume to be simple but still futuristic, which is why it changes shape and is chrome rather than pure silver. I also wanted her physique to be unique and intimidating. I personally hated how every woman with super strength was always drawn with toothpick arms, giant breasts, and a slender waist. Even She-Hulk oftentimes looks like a tall green woman. I hated this overly sexualized look and wanted someone who looked powerful and a bit more realistic.

When it came to the suit, a lot of people assumed it was based off Silver Surfer and Iron-man. Ironically, because I was more of a Captain America, Superman, Batman, Spider-man fan. I never read a Silver Surfer or Ironman comic so I never used them as a basis for the aesthetics. Gray Fox is the obvious inspiration for Cindy’s sleek look, but I also needed ideas for what she saw whenever she put on the helmet. The inspiration for her Heads Up Display comes from a little obscure game called Terminator 2029 by Bethesda Softworks.

Inspiration for H.U.D. (Terminator 2029 Bethesda Softworks)

Inspiration for H.U.D.
(Terminator 2029
Bethesda Softworks)

That’s right, the same video game company responsible for The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim used to make movie licensed Terminator games. Even though the controls are absolutely barbaric by today’s standards, I loved that game and sunk hundreds of hours into it. My father was mostly to blame for my obsession. Though he didn’t necessarily let me play it, I found the 7 floppy disks needed to install the game and also found the manual which contained the passwords to gain unlock to the game. (Back then you had printed manuals with passwords so that kids couldn’t play the full game. This was piracy protection back then.) If he hadn’t introduced me to video games, you wouldn’t be reading this page.

Anyway, short story long, I wrote the book, or rather, I wrote a novella.

Forearm weapons inspiration (Terminator 2029 Bethesda Softworks)

Forearm weapons inspiration
(Terminator 2029
Bethesda Softworks)

The 1st draft of the book ended up a whopping 84 pages—and I say whopping sarcastically. It was written in a hybrid prose and screenplay format. So all the character dialogue was written with their names followed by a colon and then dialogue. Cindy: “Says this.”

To say it was terrible would be a compliment. The dialogue was childish, the prose unreadable, and the characters were aggravating to read. So I shelved the project and decided it wasn’t worth the effort. (We all see how well that turned out.) I don’t know what specifically brought me back to writing the book again, maybe it was the lack of female superheroines in mainstream media or maybe I simply couldn’t stop dreaming about it.

So I rewrote the book again, and again, and again. Each rewrite was an improvement over the last but not good enough to be published. I changed it from third person to first person then back to third person again. I bought grammar books, and writing books, and practiced my sentences every day. I hired a cheap editor, rewrote it again and began to believe that I was writing a masterpiece, my magnum opus, even though there were telltale signs of a sinking ship.

First, never get a cheap editor. If you’re paying three hundred dollars or less, you will get what you pay for. My editor did not point out the structural problems with the book, or the characterization problems, and didn’t catch all the typos present in the book. Though my own shortcomings as a writer did not fall on my editor’s shoulders, my editor should have been able to tell me that the book had some serious problems. Anyway, I self-published my book through Createspace and waited for the 5 star reviews to roll in.
The reviews were swift and brutal, condemning the book as one of the worst titles ever to be published. Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, it was not the worst, but the readers definitely disliked it. It wasn’t Catwoman (the Halle Berry movie) level bad, it was more like Daredevil (Ben Affleck) bad. Average, mediocre, bordering on the edge of awful.

Though I was hurt by the reviews, the readers did have a hopeful message in their bad reviews. It’s bad, but it has the potential to become really good if he practices his writing a bit more. I wrote the second book called The Silver Ninja: Indoctrination, and that reviewed a little better but not to the level I wanted it to be. I was happy with the second book, but anytime someone would ask me about the first book, I would tell them not to read it.

I started book three thinking that I should continue the series and not worry about book one. Less than a quarter into my third novel, I stopped and asked myself, “If you keep telling people not to read the first book, why are they going to read the third one?”
Though I didn’t want to admit it, I knew I had to rewrite the book which started it all. I didn’t want to, definitely tried to avoid it, but it had to be done. You cannot have a series and tell people to ignore the first book. So I rewrote it for what must have been the 8th or 10th time. I was excited and extremely happy with the direction of the rewrite. I thought this draft would be my next masterpiece. I was so confident in my amazing rewrite that I hosted a beta read and invited readers to check it out.

Getting a handful of one star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads was hurtful. Getting told that the beta was worse than the original book left me devastated.

I didn’t want to be a writer anymore.

It takes courage to put yourself out there, but it also takes heart to endure the savage beating of being told you are a terrible writer. If this were a boxing match, I would be the guy face down on the mat with the ref already up to five in his count. I didn’t want to get up, I shouldn’t have gotten up, but I did. Not because I liked having my ego punched in the face, but because I had something to prove.

If I wanted to prove myself as an author, I needed to write.

And the results of more than a decade of writing will be available in the link below.


Cindy holding a sword. Artwork by: Alex Chelyshev