As part of our ongoing examination of the current state of fantasy releases by independent authors, we present this interview with Jeffrey Bardwell.
Please introduce yourself and tell us about your latest release.
My name is Jeffrey Bardwell. I write epic fantasy with elements of darkness, steampunk, and romance set in the Metal vs. Magic Universe. My character-driven books are guaranteed to include gritty realism, political intrigue, lurid entanglements, dry wit, and dragons in differing proportions. I devour fantasy and science fiction novels and am most comfortable basking near a warm wood stove. When not writing, I enjoy cooking, gardening, and shooing baby dragons from the compost bin.
Authors are funny creatures. At least, as a sample of one: I am. My feelings as a happy author are expressed simply. I finish a chapter. I leap up from my chair. I unbutton my shirt. I dance around the office singing Queen's "Another One Bites The Dust." Then, as the last note fades . . . Find out more here.
My latest release is the novella prequel to my Mage Conspiracy series. The story deviates from the main series and features a new strong female protagonist: Princess Cordelia, who prefers gears and grease to perfume and lace. If only her empire wasn't infested with all these mages . . .
Let’s face it, there are tons of fantasy books out there, and more are released every day. Why should someone take a look at yours?
If you want stories about people instead of archetypes, real clashes of sorcery and steel instead of pointless bloodbaths, and dragons that actually act like well . . . wild fire-breathing death lizards (but the baby dragons are really cute death lizards), you might enjoy my books.
What are the most prominent influences on your writing? How do you incorporate those influences without being derivative?
I enjoy classic fantasy, but try not to get bogged down in old tropes. My secret to not being derivative is to make the individuals who populate my stories real people with human motivations. My stories derive from my original characters. Their toolset for dealing with problems is just a bit . . . wider than your average person.
What are the greatest difficulties facing you as an independent author?
Marketing and advertising are the bane of my life. But as in all things, one gets better with practice.
How much does your audience’s expectations factor in to what you write? Does this ever cause you to hold back from experimenting?
I usually try to make my novels at least 85,000 words to satisfy reader expectations of book length, but as to content: nope, I experiment all the time.
Name one newer and one older book you have read and enjoyed recently. (“Newer” meaning from the past year or so, and “older” meaning written before 1980.)
American Gods by Neil Gaiman and The Marvelous Land of Oz by L. Frank Baum.
Any final words?
I know how hard it is for a reader to take a chance on a new author. Thus, I offer the first book of my Artifice Mage saga for free. It's a good thick 400 page coming-of-age fantasy steampunk story written for a general audience (that's author speak for no sex scenes).
Devin is both a prince of machines in a cutthroat steampunk empire and a mage in a land where magic users are executed. The allure of power, either mechanical or magical, beckons with sinuous whispers. Which destiny will destroy him first?