Genre Hopping with Tori Eldridge

I’m so delighted that Tori Eldridge could join us today in what is a very busy week for her! Tori introduced herself to me at Bouchercon in Dallas the day I turned the Sisters in Crime presidency to Lori Rader-Day. First, she thanked me for my work with Sisters in Crime and then we talked about her upcoming book The Ninja Daughter. I’m so glad Tori took the time to do that because I love her Lily Wong books and almost did flips when I saw the third book in the series, The Ninja Betrayed, is coming out in September. I love the beautiful covers of Tori’s books!

Name (s) Tori Eldridge

Genre(s) Mystery, Thriller, Horror, Dark Fantasy, Magical Realism 

What drew you to the genre you write? I’ve always read books in multiple genres, so it’s not surprising (at least, not to me!) that I would also write in multiple genres. Characters and stories come from my imagination at will. It’s only after they appear, that I realize what I’m writing.

Although I’m best known for the crime fiction novels in my Lily Wong mystery-thriller series, I’ve also written shorter works in horror, dystopian, and fantasy. Next May, I’ll be releasing a dark fantasy standalone about a desperate mother who rises from the slums of Brazil to become a powerful wielder of Quimbanda magic. It’s a cross genre story that spans across three continents, forty years, and a mysterious incident in 1560 France. Clearly, I’m not a writer who stays in one lane!

What sets your book apart from what is out there? Well…I don’t think there’s ever been a Chinese-Norwegian modern-day ninja in contemporary crime fiction literature—or any other literature for that matter. Lily Wong is unique, as is my blend of mystery, culture, family dynamics, and authentic ninja action. Since I drew heavily from my own life experience and heritage, it warms my heart that readers are connecting with Lily and digging her adventures. 

What are you currently writing? I’m polishing up a dystopian conspiracy thriller set in an antimicrobial resistant future, inspired by a short story I wrote, several years ago, for an apocalypse-themed anthology. I wrote the first half of the novel before The Ninja Daughter was published and didn’t have time to return to it until the COVID pandemic began. It’s been strange and disconcerting to watch aspects of my imaginary world come to life. 

Do you write a series or standalones? Why? I enjoy writing the Lily Wong series because of the ongoing character development. At twenty-five, Lily is at an age where she will make great strides and astounding mistakes. It’s a time of courage, idealism, doubt, and insecurity. There’s so much for her to learn about herself, her parents, and the ongoing characters in her life. Standalones are exciting to write because I build a world for characters at the most important time of their lives. The stakes are high and I leave everything on the page.

What are you reading right now? I’m listening to Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi and reading Without Sanction by Don Bently. 

What is your favorite deadline snack? Air-popped popcorn sprayed with coconut oil. 

Do you have a favorite quote or life motto? When in doubt, choose the most empowering perception. 

Favorite writing space? I begin every day by writing at the bistro table in my kitchen where I stand on a balancing board to keep my body active and engaged. After a couple hours, I pull up a stool and sit on a spiky balance cushion. This allows me to rock and massage my thighs and glutes. From here, I either move to the patio, where I can lounge in the filtered sun, breathe the fresh air, and put up my feet. I also enjoy writing at my coffee table while sitting in the splits or kneeling on a meditation bench. This is what happens when a dancer-ninja becomes a writer! 

What do you see when you look up from writing? Bunnies sprinting across my lawn, roses in bloom, and the hills where I love to hike.

BIO: Tori Eldridge is the Anthony, Lefty, and Macavity Awards-nominated author of the Lily Wong mystery thriller series—The Ninja Daughter, The Ninja’s Blade, and The Ninja Betrayed (out 9/14/21). Her shorter works appear in horror, dystopian, and other literary anthologies, including the inaugural reboot of Weird Tales. Tori holds a fifth-degree black belt in To-Shin Do ninja martial arts and has performed as an actress, singer, dancer on Broadway, television, and film. Her dark fantasy standalone, Dance Among the Flames releases next May, 2022. Check out her book club kits at https://torieldridge.com

7 Thoughts

  1. Welcome to the blog, Tori! You have an amazing range, and I need to get to those Lily Wong books, stat. Curious – have you spent time in Brazil? Why did you set a story there?

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  2. Hi Tori,

    Great to see you here at The Wickeds.

    I’m a big fan of Lily Wong. What I particularly like about the books is the contrast between Lily’s somewhat hidden life as a ninja, working to defend vulnerable and endangered women and girls and her relationship with her family. In her ninja realm, she’s dominant and powerful (albeit with her butt occasionally handed to her when she overreaches). In the context of her family she’s more compliant (ultimately) and generally at the bottom of the totem pole. That conflict makes for a really interesting main character and a really rich background for her.

    I can’t wait for the third book!

    By the way, given Lily’s unique heritage, I have a title to suggest for your fourth Lily Wong book: The Ninja Without the Dragon Tattoo.

    No? Oh well.

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  3. Wow! How do you keep all of that straight in your head? I’m sure it helps that you focus on other thing at a time. Otherwise, the Ninja might start fighting zombies or something. (And if you steal that for a story idea, I want a character named after me.)

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  4. Yay for you, Tori! Excited about the next Lily Wong book. (I find it inspiring to see you genre-hopping and writing/reading while balancing on a board, doing planks, and staying so fit!)

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