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Jon Sprunk Interview
Shadow's Master
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March 15, 2012

Greetings:
 This month, Jon Sprunk concludes the Shadow Saga with Shadow's Master, which takes Caim to the darkest North to seek his birthright. In this exclusive Pyr-a-zine feature, Clay and Susan Griffith, authors of the Vampire Empire trilogy and fans of the Shadow Saga, join us to ask Jon a few questions about his writing. 



Pyr-a-zine Exclusive: Jon Sprunk Interview 

Clay and Susan Griffith, authors of The Greyfriar and The Rift Walker, interrogators

Clay and Susan Griffith
Clay and Susan Griffith

Writing good action-adventure is hard. It's even harder when the writer tries to blend action with character to create people who grow and change even while they're leading you down a dark alley or fleeing angry soldiers. One of the best writers doing that now is Jon Sprunk. He writes fantasy that has all the white knuckle thrills of pulp masters like Robert E. Howard, but his characters are a deep, evolving, and involving. Thrills can make your white knuckles whiter when you actually care whether a character lives or dies, or uncovers a great secret or finds a lost love. Jon does that stuff.

We know Jon a little bit, but we wanted to know more about him. We wanted to ask him a few questions about his critically acclaimed Shadow trilogy, and about his writing philosophy in general. And about a few other things. So we did. And here it is...

 

 

Griffiths: When you conceived the Shadow trilogy, did you start with character? Plot? World?

Jon Sprunk
Jon Sprunk

 

 

Sprunk: It started with character and situation-a flawed man who stumbles across a secret that changes his life. At the beginning, Caim was more of a rogue-y, cat-burglar kind of scoundrel, but he eventually morphed into an assassin because I wanted to muddy the ethical waters.

  

 

 

Griffiths: The hero in your Shadow trilogy, Caim the assassin, has a bond with the Shadows that is at once creepy and thrilling. What inspired you to give him such a fantastic background and ability?

 

Sprunk: It actually didn't happen until I was actually writing the story. I felt that the character needed another dimension. This was before I had read Brent Weeks' Night Angel series or Steven Erickson's Malazan Book of the Fallen, so I thought adding sorcery to an assassin was a rather novel idea. Great minds... 

 

Griffiths: Were the female characters of Kit and Josephine hard to write in such a male-oriented story?

 

Sprunk: Actually, they were easier to write. I always felt a strong connection to Kit (whose existence is a lovely accident) and I hoped I was getting Josey "right," having never been a seventeen-year-old woman. Or a fae either, for that matter. But I really enjoyed writing them both.

 

Griffiths: The Shadow trilogy could have just been a straight-up action/adventure story. How did the decision come about to incorporate politics and court intrigue?

 

Sprunk: Most of it came about when I was outlining the book. I knew Caim was going to discover someone's dark secret. I wanted it to be big--like nation-changing big. The government/religious politics evolved over several drafts.

 

Griffiths: Is there any truth to the rumor that you play World of Warcraft? And are rogues your favorite archetype to play?

 

Sprunk: I did play WoW for about 6 years, alongside my wife (couples that play together, stay together, unless their guild splits...). I think I tried every class at one time or another, including rogue, but warrior was probably my favorite. I like being up front, eating up the pain and dishing it back. Now we're playing Star Wars: The New Republic and quite enjoying it.

 

Griffiths: If you couldn't write fantasy, what would you write?

 

Sprunk: I have no idea. Perhaps more horror. I really like Lovecraft and that whole supernatural horror sub-genre. Tentacles and insanity are timeless.

 

Griffiths: Are there any elements in fantasy fiction that are too odd or silly for you to use? Unicorns? Fairies? Poisonous manatees?

 

Sprunk: Manatees rock!

 

I think it would depend on the story. If I came up with a fairytale fantasy, or I wanted to do something Dunsany-esque, those types of elements could fit just fine. Some might consider Kit, the fae girl of my Shadow Saga, to be too silly, but I love her. Sometimes it's an off-beat or silly element that makes a story shine.

 

Griffiths: Have you ever fallen in love with a character, and later realized they had to die for the plot to work? Do you just pull the trigger or re-write to save them?

 

Sprunk: Sure, but I pull the trigger anyway. Violent novels where nobody important ever dies are one of my pet peeves. If you put your characters into dangerous situations on a regular basis, there need to be repercussions.

 

And everyone dies eventually.

 

Griffiths: Superman or Batman?

 

Sprunk: Superman.

 

I just don't understand the Batman thing. Why would a billionaire waste his time fighting crime? Why not hire some vigilante to do the dirty work while you relax on your private, clothing-optional island with a few dozen supermodels?

 

Griffiths: Is the writing life different than you imagined it would be?

 

Sprunk: Well, I'm not living on my own private island yet (though I am married to the hottest woman on the planet). I guess I'd say that the highs are better than I imagined, and the lows are worse. You have to get used to uncertainty.

 

Griffiths: Is there any truth to the rumor that you journeyed to the Earth's core, killed dinosaurs, and became a God-king?

 

Sprunk: No, I am not Brendon Fraser. Wait. What was the question?

 

Griffiths: If there was one writer you idolize (living or dead) who you would most want to hear say "Jon, I love your books," who would it be?

 

Sprunk: Susan and Clay Griffith. Those guys are f***ing awesome.

 

I've had a couple best-selling writers tell me they really liked Shadow's Son. That's both a cool feeling and very humbling.

 

 Thank you to Jon and the Griffiths for stopping by! 

Into the Heart of the Shadow

 

Shadow's Master

 

"Sprunk weaves a superb story, switching between storylines with aplomb, all the while delivering not just a great story but ensuring it's one with a rich, textured background... Whether describing a duel between two characters in the dead of night or a huge battle, he does so with consummate care and imagination." -SciFi Pulse 

 

"The action, as expected, is extremely well done...It's fun, smooth and easy to visualize...a very enjoyable book...Yeah, I liked Shadow's Master quite a bit... Go buy Sprunk's novels. They are great pieces of assassin-themed fantasy that everyone should be enjoying." -Elitist Book Reviews 

   

"Sprunk sets old-fashioned sword and sorcery in a noir fantasy that should appeal to fans of Michael Moorcock's Elric novels and the "Thieves' World" stories by Robert Lynn Asprin and Lynn Abbey."-Library Journal  

 

"This one is darker, bloodier, and better than its predecessors...There's plenty of action and combat, and Sprunk handles it with finesse.  Fans of action oriented sword and sorcery will find plenty to cheer about here."  

-Adventures Fantastic
 

 

Shadow's Master is the culmination of the Shadow Saga.

 

The northern wastes-- a land of death and shadow where only the strongest survive. Yet that is where Caim must go to follow the mystery at the heart of his life. Armed only with his knives and his companions, he plunges into a world of eternal night where the sun is never seen and every hand is turned against him.

Caim has buried his father's sword and found some measure of peace, but deep in the north an unfathomable power lays waiting. To succeed on this mission, Caim will have to more than just survive. He must face the Shadow's Master.  

 

Jon Sprunk discusses how he wrote the Shadow Saga at the Civilian Reader blog. If you haven't read the Shadow Saga, check out the coupon below to get Shadow's Son, the first book, for half off!   

You Might Also Enjoy



The Greyfriar  The Rift Walker Thief's Covenant  

Dawnthief     Blackdog The Wolf Age
For Your Listening Pleasure: Sword and Sorcery
Lance of Earth and Sky
 The good folks over at SF Signal have organized a panel of epic proportions to discuss modern Sword and Sorcery. Part One of the Sword and Sorcery Mega Panel includes Pyr Editorial Director Lou Anders, among others. Part Two includes Erin Hoffman (Lance of Earth and Sky, forthcoming) and artist John Picacio, whose covers have graced many of our books (see Mark Chadbourn's books below.) Part Three includes Jon Sprunk and Ari Marmell (Thief's Covenant). If you have an interest in Sword and Sorcery, the discussion is not to be missed.
Coming Soon

Jack of Ravens

 

"The author's keen sense of historical periods as well as his talent for fleshing out his characters bring a lively authenticity that enhances the mood of this dark fantasy...A good choice for fans of Charles de Lint, Mercedes­ Lackey, Jim Butcher, and James Barclay."

 - Library Journal

In Mark Chadbourn's Jack of Ravens, Jack Churchill, archaeologist and dreamer, walks out of the mist and into Celtic Britain more than two thousand years before he was born, with no knowledge of how he got there. Mark Chadbourn gives us a high adventure of dazzling sword fights, passionate romance and apocalyptic wars in the days leading up to Ragnarok, the End-Times: a breathtaking, surreal vision of twisting realities where nothing is quite what it seems.

The Burning ManIn The Burning Man, Jack Churchill has returned to the modern world, only to find it in the grip of a terrible, dark force. With a small group of trusted allies, Jack sets out to find the two "keys" that can shatter the spell. But the keys are people-one with the power of creation, one the power of destruction-and they are hidden somewhere among the world's billions.

"When he's on form, there is no one writing today that can do urban, gritty magic as well as Mark Chadbourn, and this book is very much on form, in terms of its action, exciting storytelling, and sheer force." -SF Site

That's it for this issue. As always, please check out our entire catalog and drop by our blog.

Happy Reading,

Rene Sears
Editorial Assistant, Pyr
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an imprint of Prometheus Books 
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For March only, save 50% on Jon Sprunk's Shadow's Son!

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. To unmask a conspiracy at the heart of the empire, he must claim his birthright as the Shadow's Son....

"When Sprunk gets going, he writes with an energy that has to be experienced to be believed. [He] knows that if your main character is up against a wall and facing ten swordsman then the resulting fight for your life can't be written at anything other than a break neck pace. Not only does Sprunk more than deliver on this score but he remains in control of his writing the whole time. Shadow's Son will have me coming back for a sequel... a thoroughly entertaining read that had me wondering if perhaps all assassin stories aren't the same after all..."   -Graeme's Fantasy Book Review

This month, save 50% on Shadow's Son in our exclusive offer, available only to our newsletter subscribers when you click through the PayPal button below. Free shipping. Or call our toll-free number 1-800-421-0351 and mention the Pyr-a-zine Newsletter Offer when ordering to receive the discounted price. US only.

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