Seventeen-year-old Jet Black is a ninja. There's only one problem--she doesn't know it. Others do, however, and they're scheming to capture her and uncover her secrets. When her mother dies, Jet knows only that she must go to Japan to protect a family treasure hidden in her ancestral land. She's terrified, but if Jet won't fight to protect her world, who will? Stalked by bounty hunters and desperately in love with the man who's been sent to kill her, Jet must be strong enough to protect the treasure, preserve an ancient culture, and save a sacred mountain from destruction.
In Jet Black and the Ninja Wind, multiple award-winning author, poet, and translator team Leza Lowitz and Shogo Oketani make their first foray into young adult fiction with a compulsively readable tale whose teenage heroine must discover if she can put the blade above the heart--or die trying
I like to go to flea markets and antique stores. I even sometimes go on Thursday morning treasure hunts in Tokyo--that's "unburnable" trash day. I recently found a vintage Pilot fountain pen worth around $300.00.
Ironically, I also like housecleaning. It's my therapy.
I love to cook. That's unusual for a Japanese man, I've been told. It's also good because cooking is not Leza's favorite activity. I also love to write long-hand, with fountain pens, sitting on the floor at a Japanese-style desk. That's why I was particularly excited about Leza's most recent find.
2. What inspired you guys to write about the book?
We love Japan. But we got tired of reading about girls in kimonos trailing behind boys. Where were the female warriors? They were hidden. They were ninja.
After Memoirs of A Geisha came out, we decided that we wanted to tell a story about a strong Asian heroine, so it's an action-adventure tale about the last living female ninja.
You might imagine the ninja as B-Grade black-clad assassins of Hollywood, but they were more than that.
Ninja were tribal people who developed secret arts to protect themselves against invading forces. Women were skilled fighters, too.
I was interested in that history; Shogo loved Native American culture. We connected Japanese tribal lore with the story of some special modern warriors--the Navajo Code Talkers.
So while Jet Black and the Ninja Wind is about a girl coming into her own power and skills, it's also about Japan's indigenous Emishi tribes and their fight to save their land.
The Navajo and Emishi tribes come together to save an ancient treasure and keep the past alive, with lots of spin-kicking ninja adventure along the way.
It's Crouching Dragon, Hidden Tiger crossed with Indiana Jones and The Da Vinci Code. Of course there's a steamy love story, environmental concerns, and a dog-lovers’ bonus: a ninja Akita helps save the day.
Through Jet’s multicultural adventure, we hope readers will learn more about America's Navajo heroes while discovering the real face of the ninja.
3. How did you guys come up with the title?
We were in California visiting with our friends, artist Amanda Giacomini and her husband the spiritual rapper MC Yogi (www.mcyogi.com),who suggested Jet Black as our heroine's name. We loved it. And Jet's a ninja, so we had to put that in the title. We kept the wind part (wind is an important metaphor in the book), and added Jet. So we got Jet Black and the Ninja Wind.
4. Your favorite Japanese Dish? and why?
Anything Shogo cooks. I love his spicy lotus root saute, and his sesame spinach is to die for.
I love the basics--a good bowl of hearty miso soup, rice, tsukemono and fish. I also love paella. I love to cook it!
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