Interview: Jon Sprunk
Today we welcome author Jon Sprunk on the blog for an interview! I picked up his first book “Shadow’s Son” a year ago when I found it at the annual bookfair in Ghent. To my surprise it was a signed copy and my very first at that! I immediately dug in to it and I really, really liked it. A year later I’ve read the whole trilogy and I’m an absolute fan of Jon Sprunk’s work. With his new series coming out next year, I thought it was time to invite him on the blog for a few questions about his “Shadow Saga” and his upcoming work.
DK: Welcome on the blog! An easy question to start off: can you tell my readers a bit about yourself?
Thank you for having me. I’m a native of central Pennsylvania where I live with my wife and son. I graduated from Lock Haven University with a liberal arts degree a long time ago and worked a variety of jobs, including fourteen years at a maximum security juvenile detention center. I’ve been writing since high school, but didn’t get my break until 2009 when I signed a contract with Pyr Books for three fantasy novels. Those books (Shadow’s Son, Shadow’s Lure, and Shadow’s Master) were published in 2010-12. The first one was a finalist for the Compton Crook Award and nominated for the Gemmell Award in two categories. I’m also now a writing mentor at the Seton Hill University Fiction Writing Program.
DK: Which books or authors inspired you to write fantasy?
Oh, too many to name. Some of my favorite authors are Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, H.P. Lovecraft, J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert Heinlein, and Glen Cook. And I can’t forget Stephen Erikson. If you’re talking about inspiration, I also have to include television shows like Star Trek and
the original Star Wars films.
DK: You certainly surprised me with the ending of Shadow’s Master, l don’t think anyone would have thought this was how it was going to end with Caim, Josey and Kit. Did you know what the ending to Caim’s story was going to be like when you were writing the first or second book?
Not at all. I didn’t know how that triangle would be resolved. I wanted it to be truly organic, so I didn’t handcuff myself until I got to the end.
DK: I really enjoyed the fighting scenes you wrote for Caim. Did you do a lot of research on that part? Maybe try a little bit of swordfighting
Not exactly. I started studying various martial arts about thirty years ago, but I’m not an expert in weapons. (Although I own a few swords and knives.) But I think research only takes a writer so far. The real challenge is in creating an experience on the page that anyone—from novice to expert—can understand and enjoy.
DK: You certainly succeeded in doing that! If the ‘Shadow Saga’ got opted for a movie, who would be your choise to play Caim, Josey and Kit?
Oh, this is a difficult question. I think Charlie Hunnam (with dyed hair) could make an interesting Caim. Daniel Craig might also work, although he’s getting a bit old for the part. Kate Beckinsale could be a good Josey. Kit is the most difficult part of all. You would need someone young and flirty, sassy, with an otherworldly look.
Well, after the Shadow series, which was mainly sword & sorcery, I wanted to challenge myself with a full-blown epic. The story is a combination of A Stranger in A Strange Land crossed with The Lord of the Rings and the movie Gladiator. It follows several characters in a culture ruled by powerful God-Kings (and –Queens), where magic is worshipped and life is cheap.
DK: What is the main difference between your new books and the Shadow Saga books? Did you take a totally different path in these new book?
That’s difficult to answer. If you liked the Shadow books, then I’m fairly certain you’ll find a lot to love in The Book of the Black Earth. Although I’ve expanded my scope in the new series, I still try to keep the perspective focused on the individual characters, on their struggles and sacrifices.
DK: Are there other subgenres of Fantasy you’d like to explore in the future? Or maybe some Science-Fiction?
Yes indeed. I enjoy all subgenres of fantasy, so I could see myself dipping into the entire spectrum. I’d also love to try my hand at sci-fi someday, at least in the short-story market.
DK: There has been some discussion about whether or not magic needs a system in the past. Are you one to use a magic system or do you like to read about magic with a certain system behind it? Or should there be more freedom where magic is concerned in fantasy books?
That’s funny because I’ve adopted both sides of the issue. Magic in fantasy does need rules, or otherwise it becomes a “get out of jail” card
for the characters, always saving them because it can do anything. However, with the Shadow books I kept that system deep under wraps without giving much explanation about its working. I did that because the main character was self-taught so he learned the rules (and the costs) of his magic as he went along.
With the new series, I started with a concrete system in place because the magic is such an important aspect.
DK: Where do you stand in the ‘Diversity in SFF’ discussion that has been shaking up the SFF scene lately?
If you’re talking about the call for more authors and characters of color and alternative-sexuality (LGBT), I’m all for it. I had a gay minor character in “Shadow’s Son,” and the new series will include both non-caucasian and homosexual characters. In order for a genre to remain vibrant and growing, it needs to embrace all colors, creeds, etc…
DK: What has been your favourite book this year?
Well, I don’t think I’ve read any 2013 releases so far. Right now I’m reading the “Malazan Book of the Fallen” series by Stephen Erikson, which I’m enjoying immensely.
DK: Thank you so much for this interview! I’m certainly looking forward to the release of your new book and am curious to discover this new world you created.