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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Interview with Shadow Saga author Jon Sprunk

Last week I reviewed Shadow's Lure, the second installment in Jon Sprunk's Shadow Saga series from Pyr.  After finishing Lure I asked Sprunk to answer some questions for me, which he was kind enough to do.  He's also currently moving into a new house, so I'm even more appreciative that he found time to do this during that awful process (wish him luck!).

Also, Pyr has contributed a copy of both Shadow's Lure and Shadow's Son that I'm giving away this week (click here).  Here's the blurb from Shadow's Son, Sprunk's debut novel and first installment in the Shadow Saga:

In the holy city of Othir, treachery and corruption lurk at the end of every street, just the place for a freelance assassin with no loyalties and few scruples.

Caim makes his living on the edge of a blade, but when a routine job goes south, he is thrust into the middle of an insidious plot. Pitted against crooked lawmen, rival killers, and sorcery from the Other Side, his only allies are Josephine, the socialite daughter of his last victim, and Kit, a guardian spirit no one else can see. But in this fight for his life, Caim only trusts his knives and his instincts, but they won't be enough when his quest for justice leads him from Othir's hazardous back alleys to its shining corridors of power. To unmask a conspiracy at the heart of the empire, he must claim his birthright as the Shadow's Son . . .


Justin: So, two books in Jon - congratulations. A lot of great response to both so far. Are you officially a professional writer?

Sprunk: Hey Justin, thanks a lot. I'm quite proud of the reception that first two books have gotten. Yes, I'm officially a professional writer.

Justin: Do you miss the day job?  I know my wife did the stay at home mom thing for a year and greatly missed human contact. I mean, who do you talk to about the Kim Kardashian break-up? 

Sprunk: I don't miss my old job in juvenile corrections, but I do miss the people. Mostly, I talk to myself these days. Bad for my sanity, I'm sure, but good for my writing. 

Justin: You've got a great story to tell in that you sold your books to Pyr without an agent, or being relegated to the slush pile. For those that haven't heard the story, can you relate it.

Sprunk: Sure. I had just finished Joe Abercrombie's First Law series (loved it) and I saw that Joe acknowledged this guy, Lou Anders at Pyr. On a lark, I shot Lou an email complimenting him on the series and mentioning that I had written a book in a similar vein and did he want to see it. I was actually shocked when he told me to send in a portion of the manuscript. He liked it and eventually bought it along with two more books in the series. He also introduced me to my agent. So, yeah, it was amazing. I'd been doing the writing/submitting thing for years, so to finally accomplish my dream was wonderful and a little scary.

Justin: Did you send Lou a box of chocolate or is he more of a roses guy?

Sprunk: Lou prefers beer (note from Justin: take notice queriers!)

Justin: The Shadow Saga is a dark, not-quite-Abercrombie-gritty, fantasy with an assassin/thief protagonist. Looking around the genre landscape this is a fairly well used 'starting point'.  What drew you to it?

Sprunk: I've always been drawn to the darker side of things, so an assassin protagonist was a natural fit. Basically, I like exploring how and why people do things which place them outside the normal parameters of society. How do they survive on the margin? What would they do if offered a chance to re-connect with the mainstream? Those kinds of questions.

Justin: Given how many publishers are putting dollars behind these kinds of stories, they're clearly resonating with readers.  Why do you think that is?

Sprunk: I think dark, or gritty, fantasy is a response to the traditional high fantasy. I love high fantasy, but after a while you get tired of reading about kings and queens and knights. I think there is a natural curiosity about what's happening on the other side of the proverbial tracks.

Justin: Shadow's Lure is significantly longer that Shadow's Son and, as I commented in my review, it takes a little longer to get going. Was this a conscious decision?  Did you try to bring new readers up to speed?

Sprunk: I try not to do that at all, but it inevitably slips in. Shadow's Lure was a completely different style of novel for me. The journey into a character's past while simultaneously moving them forward into the future. I hope readers didn't expect me to keep up the break-neck pace of the first book all the way through the series. That kind of repetition doesn't appeal to me. In fact, I'd much prefer it if every book I wrote had a different feel and style than all the rest.

Justin: Word on the street is that the final volume is titled Shadow's Master.  When's it set to be released? 

Sprunk: The third book is due out next spring, perhaps even as early as March.

Justin: Can we expect a definitive conclusion to Kit, Josey, and Caim's story or are you going to leave things open to come back here in the future?

Sprunk: Yes, there is a definitive conclusion to the entire story, but that doesn't mean I can't return to this land and these characters. Well, the ones who survive.

Justin: Now that this trilogy is finished (for now), what's next? Care to divulge any tidbits?

Sprunk: I'm working on the 'construction phase' of an entirely new series. Still fantasy, but more epic in scope. It takes place in a fictional amalgamation of several ancient cultures, blended up and advanced to a Dark Ages time frame, and adding in a heaping mound of sorcery and demonology. I'm going much deeper into the worldbuilding this time because it directly relates to the story. (I'm not a big fan of worldbuilding just for the sake of itself.)

Justin: NFL season is in full swing. If I remember correctly you're a Jags fan. Did you move to PA so you could see Jags games given they black out every weekend in Florida?

Sprunk: Ugh, yes, I'm a Jags fan, and this season has been brutal, but at least their defense is looking better. I've been living in PA since I was two or three. Don't ask me how I got hooked on Jacksonville. Or better yet, find me at a convention and ask me over a beer.

Justin: You said beer.  I'm in!  Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.  I'm also going to ask for some stories about how punk juveniles detentionites influence your writing over that beer too.

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At November 15, 2011 at 10:52 AM , Blogger Paul Weimer said...

Oh, this was an interesting interview to be sure. I see the parallels between Abercrombie and Sprunk's work, although I think the particular notes and flavors don't quite all match up--and that's a good thing.

At November 15, 2011 at 10:57 AM , Blogger Justin said...

Thanks Paul. I don't see a ton of similarity between the two other than the fact they both are willing to go anywhere (rape, baby murder, etc).

The style and tones are quite different and I agree with you, that's a good thing. Sprunk's stuff is far more focused and plot driven where I think Abercrombie is a little broader and more theme driven.

At November 15, 2011 at 2:32 PM , Blogger Bastard said...

Thanks for the interview Justin and Jon, very much looking forward to Shadow Master.

And Jon, I'm a Dolphins fan... hope that makes you feel better.

At November 15, 2011 at 8:52 PM , Blogger Bryce L. said...

Nice work, I really can't wait for Master. Love this series.


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