Jon Sprunk is the author of the fantasy epic Blood and Iron as well as the Shadow Saga trilogy (Shadow’s Son, Shadow’s Lure, and Shadow’s Master). He’s also a mentor at the Seton Hill University fiction writing program. For more on his life and writing, check out www.jonsprunk.com.

Inspirations for BLOOD AND IRON

by Jon Sprunk

The first book in my new epic fantasy series, Blood and Iron, came out in early March. Briefly, it’s about a war for freedom in an ancient land ruled by sorcery and powerful cults.

Today I’d like to tell you about what inspired me to tackle this series. Sources of inspiration are a tricky thing to track down. There are lots of reason why I why like to write, but why did I write this story specifically?
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BOOK REVIEW: Blood and Iron by Jon Sprunk

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS:: A captured would-be crusader, a gladiator-turned-slave, and a slave under deep cover struggle to survive in a fantasy city under threat from within and without.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: A welcome return to a new area of Sprunk’s world; raises of the stakes from previous novels; interesting magic systems; complex socio-political situation.
CONS: The jump up to epic fantasy not always successful in practice; slow start; some character missteps work against the dramatic build-up.
BOTTOM LINE: The first installment of a new new series that overcomes its slow start and ups the entertainment factor.

Crusades, slaves, heresies and a desperate ruler’s fight for power and survival are the meaty matter of Jon Sprunk’s Blood and Iron, first in his new Black Earth series. Set in the same world as the Shadow Saga (Shadow’s Son and its sequels), Blood and Iron represents a significant increase in scale and stakes.
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MIND MELD: The Best & Worst Genre Movie Adaptations

[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

Sure the books are almost always better than the movie, but that hasn’t stopped Hollywood from adapting genre fiction. So with that in mind, we asked our esteemed panel…

Q: What is the best movie adapted from SF/F/H fiction? The worst? Why did they succeed or fail?

This is what they said…

Lisa Morton
Lisa Morton is an award-winning screenwriter, novelist, and Halloween expert whose most recent books are the novels Malediction and Netherworld: Book One of the Chronicles of Diana Furnaval; forthcoming is a tie-in novel to the Stephen Jones-edited anthology series Zombie Apocalypse: Washington Deceased, and a non-fiction history of ghosts. Lisa lives in North Hollywood, California, and online at www.lisamorton.com.

The best for me is The Exorcist. Because the screenplay adaptation is by the original novelist, it hews closely to the book and it never gives into either backing down from the book’s most controversial scenes nor inflating them. I’d also suggest that director William Friedkin chose the perfect style to compliment William Peter Blatty’s story — he eschewed the Gothic trappings that had been common in horror films up to that point, and instead took a documentary approach to the material, treating it in a dramatic and very realistic fashion.

For my worst, I’m going to choose the film version of Alan Moore’s brilliant Watchmen, because I’ve never seen another adaptation that so completely inverted the intent of its source material. Moore’s original graphic novel is a deconstruction of superheroes, but the film is a ludicrous celebration. My favorite example is a scene in which the very disturbed character of Rorschach crashes through an upper-floor window and falls into a ring of police. In the graphic novel, it takes three small panels to show Rorschach crashing through the window and landing, where he’s stunned and easily beaten down; in the movie, he falls forever in slow-motion and then fights off the cops successfully for some time before being overwhelmed. The entire movie mythologizes these characters where Moore’s intention was to show them as psychologically damaged. I was so furious after seeing that movie that I wanted to punch the projectionist.

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MIND MELD: Our Favorite Dragons in Fantasy

[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

With the arrival of The Desolation of Smaug on movie screens, We asked this week’s panelists about the most iconic of fantasy creatures: Dragons.

Q: What makes dragons appealing? How do you use dragons in your own writing? What are your favorite depictions in fantasy?

This is what they said…

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BOOK REVIEW: Shadow’s Master by Jon Sprunk

REVIEW SUMMARY: Sprunk finishes his series in strong fashion.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Caim continues his journey north to find his heritage and legacy, even as the young Empress he left behind has her reign tested.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Strong finish to the trilogy; more interesting worldbuilding; further emergence of characters.
CONS: Some hangovers from the second book clutter up narrative.
BOTTOM LINE: A very good, if not spectacular, end to what will hopefully be not the last book series from Sprunk.

Shadow’s Master is the third and presumably final novel in the Shadow’s Son Trilogy from Jon Sprunk, following Shadow’s Son and Shadow’s Lure.  In the world of Nimea, Caim has managed to depose a local potentate, bury his father’s sword, and head further north to find the true source of his heritage. The Empress he has left behind faces the greatest challenge yet to her rule, and Kit the faerie has a fateful decision to make that could change the lives of all three of them forever…if it doesn’t get one or more of them killed first.

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MIND MELD: Reading, Writing and Revisions

[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

This week we asked about Revisions. I’ve come across a couple of examples lately of authors reissuing books with significant changes from the initial publication, or changing it relatively late in the initial publication process. With the rise of ebooks, the potential for rolling revisions to books is a very real possibility.

We asked this week’s panelists the following:

Q: As a reader and as a writer, how do you feel about the practice of revising books after they have been published (or at least have reached the ARC stage)? How much revision goes into your writing process? (How clean are your drafts)?

This is what they had to say…

Lucy Snyder
Lucy Snyder is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of the novels Spellbent, Shotgun Sorceress, Switchblade Goddess, and the collections Sparks and Shadows, Chimeric Machines, and Installing Linux on a Dead Badger. Her writing has appeared in Strange Horizons, Weird Tales, Hellbound Hearts, Dark Faith, Chiaroscuro, GUD, and Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. You can learn more about her at www.lucysnyder.com.

I’m a measure-twice, cut-once kind of writer; I do a lot of note-taking and thinking before I start a project. I try to have a plot destination in mind, although sometimes that will change — if the story wants to go someplace other than what I planned I’m happy to take that detour. But the upshot is I seldom start a story with no clue where I’m going, and consequently I only rarely have to make major changes to a story or novel. I do my very best to turn in clean, ready-to-publish drafts to my editors. But typos and continuity errors happen, so fixing them is part of the editorial process.
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REVIEW: Shadow’s Lure by Jon Sprunk

REVIEW SUMMARY: A strong Sword and Sorcery flavored with Epic Fantasy.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Nimea and the surrounding nations are threatened by a faceless threat from the north. Standing against this threat are a young Empress, a tortured swordsman, and a boy struggling with fears of cowardice.

REVIEW
PROS: Well-plotted with a steady pace and good character development.
CONS: Drags just a little in the middle.
BOTTOM LINE: Readers expecting the quick-read sword and sorcery will probably be stymied by the bones of epic fantasy Sprunk uses to flesh out the story. For epic fantasy fans looking to expand their libraries with faster-paced work, this is a good place to start.
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In episode 112 of the SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester and Jaym Gates (continuing the discussion from Part 1 and Part 2) sit down with a mega panel of authors to discuss modern Sword and Sorcery with the authors who are currently writing it.

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REVIEW: Shadow’s Lure by Jon Sprunk

SYNOPSIS: Having put Josey on the throne of Nimea, Caim heads north to unlock the secrets of his heritage. In the meantime, Josey learns that uneasy lies the crown of a newly crowned Empress.

MY RATING:

MY REVIEW
PROS: Excellent development of the main character, his abilities, and the world.
CONS: Josey’s thread is not quite as strong as Caim’s.
VERDICT: Sprunk satisfyingly expands the vision and scope of his protagonist and his world.

In Shadow’s Son, author Jon Sprunk introduced us to Caim: assassin, death dealer, a killer with strange and growing abilities even he doesn’t fully understand — to say nothing of the connection to his friend Kit, ghost, fae or something else that only he can see. Shadow’s Son takes this sword and sorcery protagonist and throws him into a plot and scheme that he manages to turn around, and place his friend (and love interest) Josey, on a too-long vacant throne of a decaying Empire. Oh, and give more-than-hints to him that he is far more than he himself knows.
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SF Tidbits for 9/15/09

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