Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the release of Nunchuck City! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the book’s premise, and what inspired you to tell this story?
Brian Asman: Thanks! In Nunchuck City, a reluctant ninja just wants to open the world’s greatest drive-thru fondue restaurant, but when an old enemy kidnaps the mayor, he’s going to have to drop the spatula and dust off his nunchucks. As to what inspired me to tell this story, it’s largely influenced by a bunch of video games I played as a kid—I like to joke that it’s an unlicensed adaptation of the 1987 Data East beat ‘em up Bad Dudes vs. DragonNinja. There’s this very interesting cultural conversion going on in older video games, where Japanese designers were engaging with the ‘80s action movie aesthetic and reinterpreting it through a different lens. I also spent about 80% of my childhood thinking about ninjas, so that was the other reason.
BD: What can you share with us about your creative process in bringing this story to life, and what (or who) have been some of your creative influences?
BA: Creatively, I’m mostly a pantser. I tend to start with my protagonist(s), try to get a basic sense of who they are as people, what they want. I do write with an endpoint in mind, but my process involves figuring out how to get from point A to point B in real time.
My influences specifically for this book are video games like the aforementioned Bad Dudes and Double Dragon, shows/comics I loved as a kid like G.I. Joe and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and films like American Ninjas 1-2 and The Foot Fist Way. The 1994 Double Dragon movie really influenced me a lot, too—the villain is inspired a little by Robert Patrick’s Koga Shuko.
Broadly, there are a ton of writers who’ve inspired me over the years. If I started listing them all I’d assuredly forget a whole bunch of important ones, so I’ll just mention Garth Ennis. Specifically, his work has an energy, a creative zeal, that really inspires me. And, love it or hate it, a Garth Ennis comic is unquestionably a Garth Ennis book—his style is unmistakable. I aspire to be memorable, if nothing else!
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Nick’s story will connect with and impact readers, and why do you feel that this story was important for you to bring to life?
BA: I’ll take the second question first. For me, this particular story is kind of a tribute to a bunch of stuff I loved as a kid, and still dig. Distilling the feeling I had when playing with my Snake Eyes action figure or jamming on an arcade cabinet and then pumping it into a novella of my own, well, people write for different reasons, no? And one of those reasons is to take a feeling you’ve had and say, "Hey, look at this!" to the whole damn world.
With Nick’s story, I think it’s highly relatable, even though most of us don’t have to dodge shuriken or battle evil ninja warlords on a daily basis. Nick’s a guy who’s never wanted to be a ninja, he’s very much caught between two worlds. The people in his life expect certain things from him, and the tension between his own desires and the expectations of others largely drive his journey through the book. It’s not just a matter of a vanquishing an enemy, it’s figuring out how to get the different parts of his personality to coexist in a meaningful and satisfying way.
BD: Do you foresee expanding the novella into subsequent books or even into other entertainment mediums, if given the opportunity?
BA: Absolutely. This is a universe I really dig, and there are a ton of possibilities for new stories to be told in this world. Depending on how this book does, I can certainly see a sequel or two. Also in talks to possibly do a comic book adaptation somewhere down the line, because I think the story really lends itself visually to that format.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
BA: Yep, my next book, Comic Cons, a nerdy heist caper, comes out in July!
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Nunchuck City?
BA: Follow me on Twitter (@thebrianasman) and check out my website, www.brianasmanbooks.com. Poke around on there a little, you might just find signed copies of my books for sale!