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Thursday, October 9, 2014

{Spotlight} KIRIN RISE: The Cast of Shadows by ED CRUZ


An unlikely young female heroine takes on government corruption in martial arts master’s first book in a planned eight-part series
More than 30,000 Facebook fans await Ed Cruz’s ‘kickstarted’ novel this October

CHICAGO, Ill. – Changing the world for the better doesn’t always need to come in the form of a person with superpowers, but like in the new book Kirin Rise: The Cast of Shadows, through a young girl just brave enough to be who she truly is.

With the early backing of a Kickstarter campaign, more than 30,000 Facebook fans await the book’s arrival October 9. Ed Cruz weaves an inspirational adventure story of a heroic young woman with extraordinary martial arts skills who decides to stand up for humanity and take on government corruption and corporate greed in the year 2032.

The book follows underdog 19-year-old Kirin Rise who uses her Wing Chun Gung Fu to begin an unstoppable movement against the United Federation of Mixed Fighting, the organization that has overshadowed every major sport in the United States.

The story is fictional, but the skills and practices Kirin uses are real – and the only martial art created by a woman. Cruz is planning for The Cast of Shadows to be the first in an eight part series.

While Cruz found a thirst for martial arts, he explains how the lessons shared in the book will be the same for someone who’s spent their life mastering cooking, singing or any other passion.

“The overall message of the story is to embrace yourself. A simple unknown person can do great things; the key is being you,” Cruz said. “It would be great after people read the story they feel inspired by Kirin’s actions and often times we want to be just like our hero.”

Cruz has written several nationally published articles over the last 10 years and has a large devoted following on the internet, evident by the online expectations for the release of Kirin Rise: The Cast of Shadows. Born in the Philippines, his family moved to Chicago due to political unrest when Cruz was only 3 years old. He is a graduate of Loyola University Chicago and teaches a handful of dedicated students Wing Chun.

Meet Ed Cruz 
Ed Cruz was born in Manila, Philippines in September 1970. Due to political unrest, his family decided to move and head to the United States. At the age of 3, Chicago became his home. His fascination and love for the city has always remained as he received his B.A in finance at Loyola University Chicago.

His father exposed him to martial arts at a very young age and, since then, his life has constantly revolved around it. For the first 11 years, he trained in multiple martial arts, being exposed to many different styles and concepts. Eventually, he discovered one that captured his attention and was unique to anything else. Of the hundreds of martial arts that exist in the world, Wing Chun Gung Fu is the only art ever created by a woman. Its approach was direct, to the point and extremely effective. But finding the style was not enough, he also had to find a master. It wasn’t until 1995, when he met the Legendary Gung Fu Master Augustine Fong, that everything changed. Since that time, he has devoted all of his efforts toward mastering and teaching the art. He has written several nationally published articles over the last 10 years and has a large devoted following on the internet.

The story of his first novel, Kirin Rise: The Cast of Shadows, came about through his years of training. He believed that once you find something in your life that you dedicate yourself to and master, the world around you begins to change. The birth of the internet, the growth of mixed martial arts, and the everyday happenings of the world helped forge his story. It would take years of training and dissecting the art before he finally began to create the story. The phrase, “It’s just a story, but the skill is real,” is his unique approach of sharing the art with the entire world. His plan is to preserve and share the entire art through the Kirin Rise series.

What Readers Are Saying

Kirin Rise: Cast of Shadows is an excellent narrative on the art of Wing Chun and a departure from the run-of-the-mill instructional books that we are accustomed to. Every word is deliberately written in teaching the reader something about the art within the vehicle of a captivating story.”
-Robert Lee

“I love the story and the illustrations!”
-Trina Roberts


“When I first read this book I became extremely excited that there was a strong female protagonist. Kirin is a star. She’s sassy, strong, and inspiring. It’s not only Kirin that found her way into my heart, but the whole crew has as well. Trust me, they will. The story is absolutely wonderful and engaging making it nearly impossible to put the book down. If you get the chance to read a book this year make it this one. Kirin’s trials and tribulations will keep you at the edge of your seat!”


“Great Book! The story just sucks you right in, it’s been a while since I have enjoyed a book so much.”
-Melissa Garcia Robinson

“Just finished reading this. I need more! This isn’t the type of book I normally read, but it has sucked me right in. It has elements of mystery, fantasy and romance. Is Kirin going to lead the revolution? I love me a good heroine. What’s Sifu’s deal? What happened to his love? What’s going to happen between Hunter and Kirin? Gwen and Sage end up together too? The burning questions...I need more!”
-Serena Lessin Repsold

“This book is like reading a manga to me for some reason. I don’t want,
I NEED to read the rest of this.”
- TJ Wallace

Book Details for
Kirin Rise: The Cast of Shadows


Paperback, $23.86
eBook, $3.99
Hardcover, $32.36
ISBN:  978-1-4969-2964-8
October 9, 2014

Nineteen-year-old Kirin Rise doesn’t look like a hero. Short and scrawny, she’s not the type to strike fear into anyone, much less the brutes that make up the United Federation of Mixed Fighting, the organization that has taken over every major sport in the United States.

Despite her size, she spent her youth training with her Sifu in the art of Wing Chun Gung Fu with her friend Tobias by her side. What’s more, Kirin has something that many people in 2032 seem to have lost—a conscience. Enraged by government corruption and corporate greed, Kirin sets out to do something about it in the most unlikely place: the weekly bloodbath known as Chum Night.

When Kirin knocks out her formidable opponent with one hit, a ripple spreads, stirring the hearts of fans across the country. Hardest hit by the shockwave is Kirin’s family, who become the target of the mob boss Jabbiano, and her friends Gwen, Sage, and Hunter, who deal with the fallout of Kirin’s sudden fame. Kirin herself does not go unscathed as she gains powerful enemies in the form of Thorne, the head of the UFMF, and his flunkies, Fawn and Justice.

Kirin Rise: The Cast of Shadows is the story of a young woman struggling against the apathy of a
nation in her drive to make the world a better place.

Q&A with Ed Cruz

How did you come up with the idea for Kirin Rise?
            Kirin Rise came from my observation of the world around us. I looked at the pressing issues and challenges that the future of mankind has to face, and to me it’s just mind-boggling. That somehow the world remains operational, at a very dysfunctional way. Several years ago, I saw a video on YouTube by Charlie Chaplin called the Great Dictator. It’s a short five-minute speech, which I believe is the greatest ever spoken. It’s timeless and speaks such truth, that it played a pivotal role when creating the story.
This concept was the foundation of how the story was built upon. I originally had an idea of an unknown underdog shocking the fighting community doing the impossible. From that single concept, along with the theme of the story, I eventually came up with what I believe is an extremely entertaining book that educates you, but in the end should leave you inspired.

The book has a unique format, in that it educates through entertainment. How were you able to come up with this style?
I’m not sure if this phrase has been coined, but I believe I’ve done a Miyagi: the ability to teach, without knowing that you’ve been taught. One has to understand, I’ll always be a teacher first and a writer second–that’s the basis of my foundation
I also recalled my days in school, when staring at the clock was more fascinating than the subject presented by the teacher. Thus, great teachers know how to capture the attention of their students. The message that I had, I wanted to share with the entire world, thus I had to figure a way to do that. Thus, a symbol, a concept that would universally appeal to a broad range of individuals.

How does the character Kirin play into the significance of the book?
            When we first look at Kirin we think of a girl, struggling in today’s world. Immediately, by nature people have a tendency to categorize. However, her character and personality is a reflection of society and how it’s dealing with the everyday struggles of life. Things like love, family, future and just the need to be happy is an idea that can bond readers immediately. It was not unusual when getting feedback from people who’ve read the entire story to hear comments such as, “It really made me look at myself.” If the book can achieve one thing, that to me would be the greatest reward.

You’ve mentioned that you would categorize this book as a love story. How so?
I don’t consider myself a fictional writer, since much of what I’ve written is based of my own experience. Thus, love when spoken is such a broad category. I find it limiting when it is designated between only two individuals. So to write about love, I’d had to see it first hand. Love can exist between family, friends, your passion. For example, my parents this year will have been married for 48 years. All I’ve ever seen is the example they’ve shown me that can exist between two people. You can scream your favorite love movie or book, and it pales to the story that’s unfolded in front of my eyes all these years. Thus, Kirin’s love for the art, her family and her struggle between Tobias and Hunter–this is found throughout the book and that’s why I would categorize it as a love story.

 Why did you decide to make the main character a girl?
            The girl and the art are one. Wing Chun is the ONLY art that was created by a woman. If you really analyze that statement, it is significant. Martial arts while practiced by many, is still heavily male dominated. So, for an unknown woman to break the mold and create something so incredible is extraordinary. Because it was created by a woman, it removed the No. 1 flaw that existed by ones created by men–the ego. It’s quick, efficient and to the point. It is the way of common sense, representing a universal principle that today seems lost. Sometimes when we look at the world around us, you want to scratch your head.

What has attracted you to martial arts all these years?
            In the beginning, like most people who first join, it was all about fighting. But one has to understand the vehicle known as martial arts, is no different had I found a love in piano, dance, baseball, cooking, etc. The life lessons that I share when one reads this book will be identical to someone who’s spent their lifetime mastering cooking, singing, or whatever their passion. All these vehicles that people choose represent an answer to the burning question that exist in all of us. That being, “Who are you?”

What do you hope people ultimately get out of reading Kirin Rise?

It would be great after people read the story they feel inspired by Kirin’s actions and often times we want to be just like our hero. However, I honestly believe that the success and failure that occur to people is when they stray from the truth. That truth is the acceptance and love of oneself, and that you should always be you. If people gun for that goal, then they will find the balance that everyone is searching for.

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