A fan sent me a message the other day, asking if there was a connection between my third book, Ghee, and my current on-going series, Chip Masters, Ninja. I told her that the short and is ‘no’, they are totally unrelated. The long answer is…well, then I started thinking about it.
Narratively, the two stories are unrelated. They take place in different worlds/universes/whatever the designation du jour is. Ghee and Hatsumi were not part of Kageryu’s network. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Narratively, they are unrelated.
Stylistically? That’s a bit trickier.
Ghee was the result of wanting to write a gay action hero. At the time, I’d never seen it done and still haven’t (that I’m aware of). While I’m not gay (not that it matters), I consider myself a staunch supporter. Plus, I grew up feeling lost between genres of literature and storytelling. I’d have to go a long ways to correlate that with what it would be like to grow up as gay, but it still at least tells me what direction to face to understand that. So I thought a kickass action story with a gay lead would be fun. And it was! Ghee was a hoot to write and I still contemplate finding some way to resurrect the subsequent stories in that series.
A byproduct of writing a gay action hero was writing a romantic couple in an action story. This has been done before (though it’s still far from common). Ghee and Masaki were a challenge to write and depict, to create a living dynamic between them that felt believable and solid. This is where the stylistic connections between the stories start to merge. While Chip and Hatsumi aren’t a couple (…not “exactly”), they are a team. They’re brothers, buddies, whatever designation you want to give a pair who trust each other so deeply. The story of Chip Masters, Ninja isn’t just giving some backstory to the world and setting in the Crossworld Series, nor is it merely an opportunity for some general fantasy shenanigans. It’s also about exploring a deeply important relationship to Chip Masters, namely that of Hatsumi. They’ve developed something very deep and very important. I really wanted to explore it.
I didn’t actively set-out to expand or expound on Ghee and Masaki’s relationship, but I do wonder if at least subconsciously I did transfer some of the narrative to Chip and Hatsumi.
My concept of ninjas in fiction is not even remotely historically accurate. I’ve spoken at some length at conventions about how far from reality is the modern cultural depiction of ninjas. Like so many other storytellers, I use the term ‘ninja’ pretty broadly and freely, largely as a shorthand for a ‘mysterious but disciplined force bereft of strong political alignment’. So seeing the connections between the two stories is largely cosmetic at best.
Now, if y’all want to start spinning your fanfiction yarns, that’s on you…