Today, Jeffrey Bardwell – Jeffrey Bardwell writes epic fantasy with elements of darkness, steampunk, and romance set in the Metal vs. Magic Universe..
Thanks so much, Jeffrey, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.
Jeffrey Bardwell: My first published work under the name Jeffrey Bardwell was in April 2017: an epic fantasy novel called Broken Wizards. Let the broken puns commence. The plot had holes you could lead a cavalry regiment through, I tossed around exclamation points like confetti, and I stretched the story too thin chasing that epic length. I had no idea what I was doing. Ironically, due to a great cover and snappy blurb, it sold rather well . . . until people finished reading it and started reviewing it. So, I took the novel down, did some major revisions, and ironed out the kinks. I also realized a big problem was that I had started the series too late into my protagonist’s character arc and needed to write the book that came before Broken Wizards, thus my first book became Book 2.
JSC: Why did you choose to write fantasy?
JB: Everything I write is fantasy, but there are continents less broad than that genre. I dabble in romance, intrigue, and gaslamp/steampunk as well as the more classic dragons and sorcery. Some of my series skew one way, some another, but all are set in the same Metal vs Magic Universe. That’s my common thread.
JSC: Where do you like to write?
JB: I have a little desk in a quiet room with nice white walls to stare at when my brain seizes up half way through writing a given chapter. My cat attempts to help me along and contribute to my latest story by prancing across my keyboard. Somehow, I still manage to meet most of my deadlines.
JSC: What is your writing Kryptonite?
JB: I often get great ideas for subsequent books while in the middle of writing the current book and sometimes have trouble fighting that “the grass is always greener” mentality and making myself finish the project.
JSC: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
JB: I’m paraphrasing a bit here, but Peter S. Beagle once said that if you believe the really good reviews, you’ll believe the really bad reviews, and both should be taken with a large grain of salt. If I read a review I love or loathe, I just have to remind myself that this is for the readers’ benefit, not mine.
JSC: Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured if your book? If so, discuss them.
JB: Yes, one of my female characters, an imperial soldier named Minerva, is bisexual although that word does not exist in her world. Military society during Minny’s day is fairly libertine, so most don’t bat an eyelash over who is sharing her blankets. Her twin May (who exclusively prefers men) is scandalized due to getting mistaken for her sister and the unwelcome amorous advances of Minny’s new female beau.
JSC: What is the most heartfelt thing a reader has said to you?
JB: I was in a slump, and your books got me reading again. That sentiment gave me a warm, fuzzy glow.
JSC: Who did your cover, and what was the design process like?
JB: My current cover artist is Les Solot. She does wonderful work. I generally commission an entire series of covers all at once after I’ve conceptualized what I want the series to be and have titles for all the books. I send Les a selection of stock images and a general idea of what I want, then over the course of a week or so we correspond back and forth and fine tune the overall look of the thing.
JSC: Who has been your favorite character to write and why?
JB: Styx is my favorite character to write, especially his POV chapters. He’s a wooden and brass automaton (I read too much L Frank Baum as a child) brought to life and given a soul by an underaged mage whom he persists in treating as his father. Styx is very much a man child, but he has an ancient core, firm roots, and solid heartwood.
JSC: What are you working on now?
JB: Having recently completed the fantasy romance / court intrigue series The Mage Conspiracy, I am now free to turn my attention back to the dark epic fantasy / steampunk series The Artifice Mage Saga. In addition to writing novels, I’m also working on audio productions of my books, composing original folk songs, and hope to start designing RTS and RPG video games set in the Metal vs Magic Universe.
And now for Jeffrey’s new book: The Scion’s Delight.
A cunning trap. A whiff of magic. A burst of steam.
Princess Cordelia has steel plate ambition, a mind like twisting brass gears, and the political might of tin foil. The girl aims to ratchet the Iron Empire into a glorious new day of gears and steam. The entire palace is arrayed against her. The chambermaids disdain her. The emperor ignores her. The mages, championed by Lord Oriolanus, lead a brisk campaign of lies and coercion. Those evil magic users threaten to tighten their grip upon the land even though machines are clearly superior. By the gods’ oil-stained hands, why can’t anyone else see her vision of the ideal future?
Just when Cordelia’s future threatens to slip back into medieval quagmire, a lone stranger with ice blue eyes and flowing blond hair arrives from the savage north. The handsome barbarian is destined to make both the hearts of the empire and the princess tremble. Does this spell doom or salvation for the girl’s fragile dream?
Explore The Scion’s Delight, the fantasy romance prequel novella of The Mage Conspiracy series. Discover a world of adventure and intrigue where lies cut deeper than any sword.
I reached inside and splayed my fingers across the floor of the cage, smiling as the gentle throb of the steam engine nestled below sent delightful little tingles through my fingertips. I glanced at my servant before reaching toward one of the trembling rats huddled against the corner of the cage. The animals had scuffled in their panic, and the raw energy building over them pulled their soft hair toward my outstretched fingers.
“Is the mechanism ready, Fortinbras?” My finger twitched as a tiny joyous spark passed from rat to princess. I felt my cheeks flush—perhaps this was an omen from the five blessing my good works—but nobody had seen me receive the gods’ favor.
The old servant pulled the curtain aside and was making a few minor adjustments with a pair of quivering hands. I glanced at the servant’s shaking fingers as he worked, then at his face. His cheeks remained as gray as dishwater. The old coot never gets excited about these things. Surely, it’s not another bout of palsy?
I could never tell. Fortinbras suppressed his pain as much as his joy. I felt my lower lip tremble. I tried not to stomp my foot. A bit of enthusiasm wasn’t too much to ask on today of all days?
Jeffrey Bardwell writes epic fantasy with elements of darkness, steampunk, and romance set in the Metal vs. Magic Universe. His character-driven books are guaranteed to include gritty realism, political intrigue, lurid entanglements, dry wit, and dragons in differing proportions. He devours fantasy and science fiction novels and is most comfortable basking near a warm wood stove. When not writing, Jeffrey enjoys cooking, gardening, and shooing baby dragons from the compost bin.
The author lives on a farm and in a prior life worked as a community ecologist. He is overfond of puns and alliterations. He is also an unabashed history and mythology enthusiast. You can discover more about Jeffrey and his fantasy universe here:
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