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INTERVIEW: Jon Sprunk

Jon Sprunk is the author of Shadow’s Son and its forthcoming sequel Shadow’s Lure, both from Pyr Books.

John Ottinger: What was your path to becoming a writer?

Jon Sprunk: I finished my first novel shortly after college and sent it around to the tune of many, many rejections. I continued to muck around with writing, but it wasn’t until 2002 that I started taking it serious as a possible new career. I got a couple short stories published with small presses and kept building novels. The day Shadow’s Son was accepted was one of the best in my life. It’s been a rollercoaster ride since then.

JO: How would you define the difference between epic fantasy and sword and sorcery and how do you classify Shadow’s Son?

JS: Personally, I view epics as tales that span many lands, often with a large cast of characters. S&S is more down-and-dirty. By those loose definitions, I’d say Shadow’s Son lurks at the S&S end of the pool.

JO: Caim is something of an anti-hero. Why do you think readers find anti-heroes appealing, and why did you in particular choose to write a story with one?

JS: I didn’t choose an anti-hero as much as Caim inserted himself into the story. In this instance, the situation came to me first, and I didn’t know who was going to headline it. But I had written a novella about a freelance assassin several years earlier, and so . . . things just came together.

I think people enjoy all kinds of heroes. Dark heroes, or anti-heroes, are seeing added popularity right now, but there are still plenty of traditional-style heroes out there.

JO: What was the most difficult part of writing Shadow’s Son?

JS: The final editing phase. I had notes from my beta readers, from my agent, and (obviously) from Pyr. Putting them all together and trying to make something coherent out of that was the biggest challenge.

As far as scenes go, anything involving Kit was both difficult and exciting because she’s a total wildcard. She threw the story in all sorts of directions I didn’t see coming until they were on the screen.

JO: Now that you have a few reviews to go by, is there anything you might change about the novel, or questions or hanging plot lines you are planning on answering in later novels?

JS: First, I’m not about to change my perception of my own writing because of reviews. They serve a useful function, and I’m grateful for the attention my book has received, but that’s as far as it goes.

JO: On reading the novel, I was left feeling that the character of Kit was underdeveloped. What made you decide to have the ghostly companion to Caim who flits in and out of the narrative, seemingly at random?

JS: I’m glad you inserted “seemingly” into your question. It’s not random, but only the readers can determine if it is effective.

As to why Kit exists at all, she plays an important counterpoint to Caim’s ruthless (and dangerously self-destructive) worldview. She is the yin to his yang, so to speak.

JO: What writings or writers do you consider your primary influences?

JS: I can tell you the writers and books that I admired most when I was growing up: Howard’s Conan saga, Moorcock’s Elric, Leiber’s Fafhrd and Gray Mouser, Heinlein’s Stranger In a Strange Land, Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Cook’s The Black Company. As far as influences, you’ll have to tell me.

JO: Will we see Caim, Kit and Josephine again? Any hints about the story you can give us?

JS: Yes, yes, and yes. The next installment (Shadow’s Lure) follows Caim north to the land of his birth where he’ll be forced to wrestle with issues of family and redemption on a deeper level than we’ve seen thus far.

JO: Where can readers find you online?

JS: My website is: www.jonsprunk.com.

I also have a blog (Fear of the Dark) at http://jonsprunk.blogspot.com/.

I’m active on facebook and twitter.

JO: Thank you for your time!

JS: Thank you, and thanks to your readers.