Today it is my pleasure to interview fantasy author, Jon Sprunk.  Jon hales from central Pa.  He holds a BA in English from Lock Haven University, where his passion for writing began.  His debut fantasy novel, Shadow’s Son, was published by Pyr in 2010.  Jon has recently released his second novel in the Shadow Saga, Shadow’s Lure.  I met Jon at the Steel City Con in March of this year.  Jon was kind enough to give me some advice on promoting my book and he has been a source of inspiration to me since.

Tell me about your debut book, Shadow’s Son?  How did you come up with the title?

I’m a little embarrassed to say I didn’t put too much thought into it. It’s about a character whose mother came from the Shadowlands, so the title seemed fairly obvious. Then, speaking of shadows, there’s the whole play on words with ‘son’ and ‘sun.’ I was fairly convinced that the publisher would ask me to change the title, but they never batted an eye, and now I’m very glad because it fits so well.

My favorite cover to Shadow’s Son is the German one by Dirk Schulz of Animagic. What is your favorite cover and why?

Can I be politically correct and say I love them all equally? Well, maybe to be more honest I can say that I like German cover for its elegance, I like the U.S. cover by Michael Komarck for its use of color and detail, and I like the U.K. cover by Chris McGrath for its style.

What was the hardest part of writing Shadow’s Son?

The ending, but that’s always the case for me. Through the course of a novel you’ve got so much going on, and then it all has to come to a satisfying, yet believable, conclusion. That’s tough, but I hope I do it justice.

What did you learn from your experience in writing your first published book?

I think I learned the most after the writing was done, because I wasn’t prepared for the second part of publication: the business side. And it’s very much sink-or-swim. I am fortunate to have a patient publisher and an excellent agent.

One thing I learned quickly was to have realistic expectations. Everyone wants to be a mega-bestseller their first time up to the plate and win all kinds of awards, etc. But building a reputation takes time and a lot of effort.

I read on your biography page of your website,, that you joined the writers group, Pennwriters.  How has joining the group changed your initial approach to writing? 

It changed everything. At their first conference I attended, I learned more about professional writing than in all my years prior. Maybe even more importantly, I found a community of writers who understood my situation. Writing is such a solitary activity that finding people to share the experience is priceless.

How did you first come in contact with your current publisher, Pyr? What do you think was the deciding factor in signing you on as one of Pyr’s authors?

I had just finished the First Law series by Joe Abercrombie (loved it), and I saw that Joe thanked his editor in the notes. So I sent Lou Anders at Pyr an email expressing my admiration for the books, and oh-so-subtly inserted a mention of my manuscript. Lou graciously asked to take a peek, and the rest is history. That probably sounds easy, but I’ve been at this writing game for a long, long time. There were a lot of failures leading up to that initial success.

I can’t speak for Pyr, but I think they saw potential. And I delivered a fairly clean manuscript. That means it didn’t require oodles of editing. In today’s publishing world, editors and agents are looking for any excuse NOT to sign you, because the competition is beyond fierce. You need to rise above the pack.

What books have influenced your writing style? What author has been an inspiration to you?

Way too many to list. I draw heavily on S&S authors like Robert E. Howard and Fritz Leiber. Glen Cook’s The Black Company is an important touchstone for me. I enjoy Heinlein, Tolstoy, Abercrombie, and George Martin (Fevre Dream was beautiful). Barbara Hambly’s Dragonsbane was simply wonderful.

What book, if any, are you currently reading?

Next on my to-read list is Sword of Fire and Sea by Erin Hoffman, a new author at Pyr. We met at DragonCon last year, and I can’t wait to read this.

What is the best thing about being an author?

Having a chance to get all these stories out of my head and into the hands of readers. We all have careers goals, but basically all I’ve ever wanted was to see if my books could find an audience. And they are, slowly. I love my fans. Getting fan mail brightens my entire day. Meeting people at conventions and readers makes me feel connected to the SFF world.

What advice would you give aspiring authors?

The old adage, ‘don’t quit your day job,’ is so true it hurts. Writing is only a lucrative profession for very few.

Write every day. The only proven way to learn to write is by writing. If you treat it like a hobby you can set down and pick up whenever you feel like it, you won’t get far. One of my biggest regrets is waiting so long to get serious about it.

What future projects do you have planned?

Well, I’m in the revision stage of book three of my Shadow series. After that, I’m going to switch to another project—a completely different series with all new characters. That will keep me plenty busy for the next few years.

If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?

Take the Detour (subtitled: Learn From My Mistakes). Being a new parent, I guess that’s on my mind, how to teach my son not to make the same mistakes I’ve made. On a certain level, I know he’ll have to learn his own way, but I think a good parent makes the attempt anyway.

And this can apply to aspiring writers, too. Yes, you’re going to make mistakes, but you don’t have to re-invent the wheel. Take advantage of resources like mentors and teachers. But at the end of the day, you’ll still have to make it on your own.

Thank you for taking the time to participate in my Q&A.  I wish you luck in all your future writing endeavors and I look forward to seeing you while I’m out promoting my work. 

It was my pleasure. Best of luck.

I encourage all readers to check out Jon’s official website at: