Kaji Warriors: Shifting Strength follows Atae, a hybrid Kaji half-breed, aiming to prove herself as a Kaji among a culture of strength and honor. What was the inspiration behind this thrilling novel?
I wish I could say that the story came to me in a single burst of inspiration, but it didn’t. I pulled inspiration from a lot of sources, including music, books, real-life experience, random conversations, etc. For example, Atae’s scene with Jeqi in a dark tunnel was inspired by a difficult night after my divorce. Queen Sula’s wild hair is a tribute to a friend that died a few years ago. Another friend’s mother-daughter relationship inspired Jeqi’s relationship with her mother. Plus, I watched a lot of Dragonball Z and Sailormoon as a kid.
Atae is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?
While Atae is a well-trained fighter, she’s also the typical naive, young woman that a lot of women are at her age. She still thinks in black and white and struggles to think clearly about matters of the heart. Add in her oblivious nature and a bit of social awkwardness, and you have Atae.
I enjoyed the deep world-building and backstory. What were some themes that were important for you to capture in your world?
I wanted to create a culture that centered around an individual’s strength and honor. My world-building was a natural extension of what that society would look like, i.e., the benefits of it and the drawbacks or consequences. A major theme that I touched on is the old-school prejudices from purebred Kaji against hybrids like Atae and Jeqi. While most of this plays out in the background of our main character’s story, some of it touches her packmates’ storylines.
Do you have plans to continue this story in other books?
Absolutely! We have to find out what happens in the Gridiron.
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