Joining Curiosity Quills for another edition of our Author Spotlight: Question & Answer Coloumn, is Benjamin Sperduto, author of recently released fantasy novel, MIRONA’S LAW, which hit Amazon on April, 18, 2017!
In the comments, please join us in asking Benjamin Sperduto anything you’d like to know about writing, his new book, and life in Tampa, FL. Or you know, just throw something completely random at him to keep him on his toes!
Who are you and where do you call home right now?
I’m Benjamin Sperduto and I’ve lived in Tampa, FL for about 17 years.
Tell us about your latest book: your inspiration for it, how you got through your most difficult challenge in writing it, and what you love about it?
Mirona’s Law picks up about a month after the events of The Walls of Dalgorod as winter is fast approaching. One of the big inspirations for the story was the movie The Lion in Winter. I love the idea of scheming political enemies being physically confined in close proximity due to some external force. While the movie shows a fractious family snowed in behind the castle walls, I wanted to expand that concept to include several rival families trapped within a large city. The biggest challenge for writing the book was scaling back the ambition. I incurred a lot of narrative debts in The Walls of Dalgorod, and it was difficult to decide which ones to pursue in here and which ones to push back to a later book. Once I made those choices, the book was surprisingly easy to write. My favorite thing about Mirona’s Law is that none of the characters face easy choices, and every decision they do make turns out having far greater consequences than they anticipated. The scope of this book is also much greater than its predecessor, so it showcases more of the land and cultures of Rostogov.
What are a few of your hobbies?
I’ve been an avid roleplayer since I was a teenager, starting out with games like Earthdawn and Shadowrun. This year, I started a podcast chronicling my gaming group’s effort to play twelve different RPGs in twelve months (12/12 Project Podcast). It’s been quite a challenge so far, but I’ve enjoyed the process a lot. I dabble in music as well. Every few months I get the idea that I’m going to play guitar in a rock band, but time constraints usually prevent me from getting anything off the ground. Last year I started recording electronic music, which has proved to be a great creative outlet. I’ve released most of the recordings under the name Morana’s Breath. It’s not quite the same as starting up my own band, but it’s a lot more manageable since it’s a solo endeavor.
If you had your own food truck, what would it serve?
Cajun food. Gumbo by the cup and heaping servings of jambalaya. Oh, and beignets. I don’t know if that technically counts as Cajun, but they’re synonymous with New Orleans, so that’s good enough for me.
What do you want to get better at doing, writing-wise?
Aside from actually writing faster, I’m still working to improve at “showing” rather than “telling.” I read far too much HP Lovecraft when I was starting out as a writer, so I’m always struggling against a tendency to be overly wordy in terms of description and action.
What TV series are you into right now and why?
I recently watched the HBO reboot of Westworld and enjoyed it immensely. When the show started out, I didn’t think the writers would be able to provide an interesting take on the question of what it means to be human, but the show really surprised me by being consistently compelling and nuanced. As an author, I thought it was a great example of how good writing can take themes that have been done to death and put a fresh spin on them.
What movie do you quote the most?
It’s a dead heat between The Big Lebowski and Snatch. But that’s just, like, my opinion, man, and it can get me in a lot of trouble, thinking; I shouldn’t do so much of it.
What do you collect, even a little bit? Tell us about your favorite one.
Roleplaying games. I didn’t set out to collect RPGs; they just kind of accumulated over time. My favorite is the limited edition copy of Dune: Chronicles of the Imperium by Last Unicorn Games. The company went out of business before the game went into general release, so there are only about three thousand copies floating around. My wife picked on up on ebay for Christmas one year. It’s still my favorite Christmas present ever.
What’s your preferred genre of book when you just want to escape?
Fantasy. It’s my favorite genre in general, and I’m always looking to escape in some way when I read fiction.
What do you like to do on vacation?
Visit someplace that excites me. I’m not very big on going to places just to do things I could do in fifty other locations (skiing, swimming, etc). For example, I visited Russia last summer solely because I’ve always wanted to see Russia. That’s an experience I couldn’t have gotten elsewhere. There’s only one place in the world where you can see Lenin’s tomb, you know?
Is there another genre you’ve been itching to write in?
I’d love to write a space-based science fiction novel, but I worry that I’d be far too “hand wavy” with the science for a hard SF readership. Maybe someday…
What unusual object do you like to bring with you if you leave the house?
A ROLI lightpad block. It’s a music-making touchpad that interfaces with a smartphone. I haven’t actually used it much, but there’s always the potential I could come up with a kicking song while I’m sitting at a stoplight.
If you had a champion racing pigeon, what would you name it and what would its tagline be?
Tainted Dove: The Won Hit Wonder.
Finally, give us one recommendation for something - movie, TV, game, food - that you enjoyed recently.
Wild Things, the latest album from a New Zealand artist named Ladyhawke. It somehow strikes the perfect balance between sounding contemporary and retro at the same time. I haven’t felt this way listening to an album since I was 18 or 19 (which was quite a while ago). It’s my go-to music when I need an emotional pick-me-up or just need to lose myself in a song for a few minutes.
About Mirona’s Law
A month has passed since Gerasim of Kver defended the walls of Dalgorod from the ambitious Kirill Voisilovich. But that victory provides little comfort now as winter descends upon Rostogov. Even as Kirill awaits his trial for high treason, hidden forces continue to plot against the reign of the ailing Velikye Knyaza, Serafima Vladekovna. Every day her strength weakens while the realm’s powerful noble families scheme to expand their power. When presented with a chance to seek a cure for the terrible sickness threatening to consume her, she must decide whether or not the realm will tear itself apart in her absence.
Meanwhile, far to the north, a young Dikarie warrior struggles to pick up the pieces of her shattered world after the warband’s defeat at the hands of the Rostogovians. When she finds herself beholden to a leader she once trusted above all others, she learns that loyalty can be deadlier than any weapon.
But unlike winters past, this year “Mirona’s Law” brings more than snow and ice. Something ancient stirs in Rostogov, lurking in the shadows of every city and festering in the blackest hearts of the forests. When the goddess of death’s long night falls upon the realm, what nightmares will the darkness bring with it?
The column will continue soon...Stay tuned for new installments!