In this week’s author interview I chat with dark fantasy author and creator of the Metal vs Magic Universe Jeffrey Bardwell. Join us around the campfire and settle in.

  • Hi, Jeffrey Bardwell. Tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

I’ve been writing and publishing dark fantasy with a mix of dragons, steampunk, and romance since mid 2017. I have published six novels, two novellas, and one anthology all set in my Metal vs Magic Universe. I love creating new worlds and populating them with interesting characters. When I’m not shackled to my keyboard,  current hobby endeavours include practising my puff pastries, building a Roman style woodworking bench, and growing every type of berry under the sun. I think my favorite cultivar is the haskap. What a name!

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

I love that good fantasy is a story with wondrous impossible broad strokes grounded in tiny realistic details. Riding dragons? Well, be certain to describe the aereal formations and how the leather harness is constructed. Steampunk armor? Well, don’t forget to show your characters slogging through all the upkeep and maintenance.                                       

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together? (include release date etc here)

My latest project involves wrapping up the fourth book in my dark fantasy / romance / intrigue series: The Tyrant’s Peace, The Mage Conspiracy series. I’ve been wrestling with this one for over a year due to various work and health shenanigans. This series is far more complex than others I’ve written because each book interweaves a related suspenseful intrigue and romantic adventure plot with their own unique sets of conflicts and characters. So, each novel is more like writing two novels. The prospect of pushing forward and finally finishing the series with Book 5 gives me a warm happy glow. Book 4 is coming out April 15, 2021.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I like taking the most evil, despicable villains and making them sympathetic and even loveable at times by allowing the reader to relate to their human motivations. Everyone is multifaceted and has more than one reason for why they do things. I like to impart that quality into all my characters.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

Stop outlining, world building, and composing long character treatises. Just write the bloody book already.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

I get a feel for how much I can write per day given my current additional responsibilities. Then, I set realistic goals and buckle down. That is at least the plan, which sadly gang aft agley. Giving your timeline generous fudge factors to account for hiccups and the unforeseen is prudent lest you get burnsed.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

A bit of both. My outlines are the broadest strokes simple story beats with motivations and conflicts for the three main characters. Even so, I will often stray from this as the evolving characters reveal a new path while I’m telling their stories. I often leave the last third of the outline especially vague just for this reason.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I have three currently ongoing series that I really need to finish. Then, I have four more planned in the future, which I will be writing one at a time. Of these seven series, I already have all the covers designed for four of them. Get your covers done in series batches, folks! Saves time and money later, and allows you to consider series branding as a cohesive whole. My novels all have heavy cross genre elements, so genre hopping is as simple as leaning harder on one point of that epic fantasy / romance / steampunk trifecta. One of my current series is a military fiction (steampunk dragon hunters), the other a coming of age story (prodigy artificer), and the last a court intrigue (spy with magic disguise).

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

I like stories where the heroes aren’t pure saints, and the villains aren’t pure demons. Give me some nice shades of gray, complex character motives, and juicy betrayals.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

I should really side with Tolkien on this one–epic fantasy for life–but in truth I enjoyed all those franchises. Each auteur has influenced me in their own way.

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