Signed Book Giveaway & Interview: Jeffrey Bardwell, Author of Broken Wizards

Folks, please give a warm welcome to Jeffrey Bardwell. He kindly lets me heckle him with questions and is also offering up 5 signed advanced review copies of Broken Wizards, open internationally! Scroll to the end of the post to check out that giveaway!

1. If you could be an extra on a TV show or movie, what would it be and what would you be doing?

If I were a background character, I would be the cheeky voice of experience gleefully hanging lampshades on all the plot holes while the protagonist was walking down the street and pontificating or ordering a pizza. I would be the very astute, very snarky delivery boy who would be stiffed his tip for my troubles.

2. Would you rather have a dragon, or be a dragon?

Fiery breath? Long nails? Flaky skin? I’m half way there already every time I wake up in the morning. I would much prefer to be than to have a dragon. That way, I’d be the one making the messes instead of cleaning them up (of the destructive burning building variety). Any dragon I own will be house trained.

3. As an ecologist, what’s the most interesting gross fact you know?

There are several species of fungi that will invade insects’ bodies and nervous systems and turn them into zombie bugs. I find the concept terrifying. I once had a mentor who could eat a ham sandwich with one hand and perform a blunt dissection with the other, so gore doesn’t really gross me out these days. My nightmare fuel is more psychological and of the body snatchers variety.

4. If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

Um . . . Batman, hands down. Save me, oh knight of darkness!

5. If you could, what book or movie or TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

The one with the most engaging plot twists of course: Game of Thrones. Mostly, I just want to wipe my mind and binge watch the whole series after it’s released while curled up on the couch with the love of my life. Now, where can I find some of that brain-warping fungus?

6. Who are your favorite hero duos from the pages?

It’s a tie between Sherlock Holmes and Watson and Batman and Robin. I guess it’s no coincidence the the latter are the superhero expies of the former.

7. What does your Writer’s Den look like? Neat and tidy or creative mess? Can you write anywhere or do you need to be holed up in your author cave?

My den is a semi organized mess. I can usually jot notes, work on revisions, write the bare bones of scenes, and plot novels anywhere. But actually sitting my butt in a chair and writing chapters at a time requires either my desk in the basement or the kitchen table, depending on the weather. I hope to get a proper office organized someday in the guest room, but as they say, hope springs eternal.

8. If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in SFF literature, what books would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

Oh, wow. You’re asking that of an ex academic [rubs hands together and grins]. Let’s teach! I would arrange my course around authors rather than books. I guess I would start with Edgar Allen Poe and the intersection of mystery, horror, and fantasy and then look at how different authors have added their own unique spin on SFF over the years. I’d throw in some lesser known authors like James H. Schmitz to show off a few outliers like well-rounded, perceptive female characters. Then, we’d examine common tropes and how they reflect how SFF changes with society and then start deconstructing them. Now that I’ve said all that, I really want to teach that class . . .

9. It’s a long sailing trip: what books make it into your trunk and why?

I admit I would cheat and bring the following: 1) a hand crank generator, 2) an AC/DC converter, 3) a few shrink wrapped ereaders with an eclectic mix of everything I can cram into them, and 4) OK, one or two hardbacks: Starship Troopers and Stranger in a Strange Land by Heinlein and The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I’ve read those multiple times over the years, so I wouldn’t mind being stuck with them when my generator fails or the boat sinks and it’s desert island time.

About Author Jeffrey Bardwell:

Jeffrey Bardwell is an ecologist with a Ph.D. who loves fantasy, amphibians, and reptiles. The author devours fantasy and science fiction novels, is most comfortable basking near a warm wood stove, and has eaten a bug or two. The author populates his own novels with realistic, fire breathing lizards. These dragons are affected by the self-inflicted charred remains of their environment, must contend with the paradox of allometric scaling, and can actually get eaten themselves.
The author lives on a farm, is perhaps overfond of puns and alliterations, and is a gigantic ham. When not in use, he keeps his degrees skinned and mounted on the back wall of his office. Email at:


Places to Stalk Jeffrey Bardwell

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Book Blurb about Broken Wizards

Time’s up for mages!

The wizard purge is in full swing. Sorcery is illegal in the modern, steam-powered Iron Empire. The Magistrate’s Black Guards hunt the uncivilized mages using mechanized armor and mysterious, clockwork weapons. The guards deliver their prisoners to the Butcher, Captain Vice. All wizards are tortured and executed as traitors to the state . . . with one exception.

That exception is Devin, an outbreak mage and ex artificer, a prince of machinery. The Magistrate exiles the youth over Vice’s protests to the wild kingdom of wizards and dragons. Devin only knows gears and springs, but his savage magic offers salvation, if he can tame it. The exile must learn to harness his dangerous, new powers before the Butcher tracks him down to finish the job.

Follow Devin’s quest in Book One of The Artifice Mage Saga. Join the fantasy steampunk brawl of metal vs. magic where sorcery is bloody, science is greasy, and nobody’s hands are clean.

Amazon ~ kobo ~ Free Sample


Jeffrey is graciously offering up 5 signed ARCs of Broken Wizards [OPEN INTERNATIONALLY]. Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: 1) What books would you take on a long sea voyage? 2) Where do you live? Giveaway ends May 10th, 2017, midnight.

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Interview: Matt Costello & Neil Richards, authors of Cherringham

CostelloRichardsCherringhamMurderOnThamesFolks, I have a treat for you today. Please welcome Matt Costello and Neil Richards to the blog. They are here as part of the virtual tour for Bastei Entertainment. You can check out other stops on the tour HERE. We chat about movies, dead authors, fictional evil books that could destroy the world, and mystery writing.

If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

Neil: Impossible to choose one! Movies – Stand by Me, the best coming of age movie ever, North by Northwest – Hitch’s lightest but most unpredictable, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, for what it says about love. TV – Band of Brothers for me the best series ever made. Book – What Makes Sammy Run, still one of the funniest books ever (well maybe you have to work in movies to feel like that!)

Matt: King Kong. On a black and white TV, in my Brooklyn home. Seminal, amazing, and quite possibly a film that forever altered my creative life to come.

Reality in my fiction: how important is it? Lengthy travel, cussing, and bathroom breaks happen in real life. How do you address these mundane occurrences in your writings?

Neil: The characters have to be true – and in the case of our Cherringham series the world has to be true. They’re cozy mysteries so the cussing gets the cut – but we have to totally believe in the reality of our world to make it work.

Matt: Writing is selective. Even for dramatic events, the focus of the word, the line, the paragraph should be on creating the moment. If a visit to the bathroom is important, it should read so as well, whether it’s to be suspenseful, funny or horrific. Readers should feel the mundane under the surface without ever having to experience the tedium of reading it.

CostelloRichardsCherringhamMysteryAtManorMore and more we see fiction being multimedia – a book, a TV show, a PC game, a graphic novel. How do you see the publishing industry evolving to handle this trend? Any plans to take your works in the multimedia realm?

Neil: Matt and I both work in ‘multimedia’ writing games, interactive, TV, books, animation, etc. so it’s a world we know pretty well. We’ve written a YA novel which grew out of a location-based app and will work alongside it. And transmedia – where it’s appropriate – can open up a fictional world in intriguing ways. Cherringham feels to us like a TV series above all – we’ll wait and see…

Matt: As Neil says, we have created works with straddle the different platforms, and would love to see Cherringham do the same.

Which ancient or historical works have you not read and periodically kick yourself for not having made time for them yet?

Neil: I’ve rediscovered Dickens in the last few years – so a year off to read them all would be great. I never read War and Peace and feel I should…

Matt: I have a pristine copy of Abdul Alhazred’s Necronomicon locked in a safe, in a crypt, just to the left of the wine cellar in my basement. The book itself, more mummified than bound, would be a daunting, even dangerous read. One of these dark and stormy nights, I fear I will be compelled to open the safe and crack those ancient pages…

CostelloRichardsCherringhamMurderByMoonlightWho are your favorite hero duos from the pages?

Neil: Sherlock and Dr Watson. Morse and Lewis.

Matt: Abbott and Costello. Oh pages…hm, Sherlock and Watson, as my esteemed colleague suggests. The game’s….afoot.

In my experience, some of the best fiction is based on facts and history. How do you build your research into your fictional works?

Neil: We don’t do it deliberately – but sometimes a news story will trigger a conversation between us and turn into the core of a new plot. Any time we’re creating an ‘institution’ (say an old people’s home, or a local fire station etc) or perhaps entering a specialized story world (a character’s love of metal detecting for instance) we’ll spend time learning the jargon and reality of that world. But too much research can slow you down – just pick what’s needed to be able to write truthfully about the specialism.

Matt: What I tend to do when I hit something that indeed must be researched (for example, the technical name of an item or part of a device or machine) is to type ‘xx’ and carry on….knowing that when the draft is done for the day, I can jump onto the net and find out exactly what this part or that particular thing is called.

CostelloRichardsCherringhamThickAsThievesIn writing your bad guys, do you want the reader to enjoy hating on him/her, or do you want the reader to be waiting for that magical moment when they redeem themselves?

Neil: Ah, well – the way our stories unfold the bad guy is concealed until the very ending when our heroes uncover the plot or the murderer. So we usually present them in the most generous light we can.

Matt: It can be tricky keeping our real bad guys hidden. But that is also part of the fun of these ‘cozies’…to know whodunit, and then making sure that they remain well hidden – but then…clearly so guilty at the end!

What reboots (or retellings) of classics have you enjoyed? Are there ones that haven’t worked for you?

Neil: Hmm, Poseidon Adventure 2Taking of Pelham 123… Best not to dwell on these things. The best films make the worst remakes.

Matt: I worked on a prequel for Peter Jackson’s King Kong, and I found that film powerful, honoring the tone and power of the original. John Campbell’s classic story Who Goes There? was made into the original film The Thing, and amazingly all the reboots of that tale have worked extremely well.

CostelloRichardsCherringhamLastTrainToLondonIn this age of publishing, self-promotion is really necessary for the author. What do you enjoy most about advertising yourself and your works? What do you find most challenging?

Neil: I like chatting to readers, bloggers, reviewers, TV and radio people – I guess because there’s no preparation and it never feels like hard work. The constant sharing of info on social media can get time-consuming – I still feel that if I’m at my desk I should be writing not selling but I guess those days are long gone…

Matt: Gone, but not forgotten….

If you could go enjoy a meal in a fictional world, where would that be, and what would you eat?

Neil: I love train travel – and eating a meal in a proper restaurant car is one of life’s luxuries. So what better for a mystery writer than dinner with Poirot himself on the Orient Express, crossing Europe at night. Classic French cuisine of course!

Matt: Private dinner in Casino Royale, stack of chips, martini, and company for evening awaiting…

CostelloRichardsCherringhamCurseOfMabb'sFarmWhat does your Writer’s Den look like? Neat and tidy or creative mess? can you write anywhere or do you need to be holed up in your author cave?

Neil: I work in a custom-made garden office – a writing den I’ve waited a very long time for! At the start of every project I like to clear the desk. By the end I’m surrounded by piles of paper. Being digital doesn’t seem to have reduced the mess as it should have done! I don’t need to be there – in fact I wrote fifty pages on a long train journey in a crowded carriage a couple of years ago – just got ‘into the zone’ and didn’t stop. At the end I was exhilarated and the feeling didn’t go away for a couple of days.

Matt: Just an office, with bookshelves, a desk, Mac, printer, and stacks of notebooks and pads related to countless projects. But I can – and do – write anywhere, anytime.

How did you celebrate that first time experience of having a piece accepted for publication?

Neil: I still haven’t done that. Never want to tempt fate…

Matt: Having been published a lot, for me – now — it is about the work I am in the middle of, and the work to come. Champagne can wait…

If you could sit down and have dinner with 5 dead authors, who would you invite to the table? What would they order?

Neil: Dickens for story-telling. Hemingway would be fun for a while but I think we’d kick him out when he got too wild. Chandler to learn about crime writing. Dodie Smith for class. And Douglas Adams who I worked with for a few years and whose humour I miss. They’d eat what I cooked for them and be grateful – plenty of other writers on that deceased list to pick from…

Matt: Well you see, I don’t think having dinner with a dead author would be very entertaining., I mean, there they are, all moldy and decayed, sitting there, sans appetite. Plus imagine explaining to them every time you reach for your iPhone to check the latest IM!

CostelloRichardsCherringhamBodyInLakeSide characters can make or break a story. What side characters have you enjoyed in other works?

Neil: I’m reading a lot of Alan Furst at the moment. His novels take place across Europe in the late 1930’s and 40’s. His side characters interweave across the series, sometimes becoming protagonists, sometimes just flitting through the lives of other central characters. John le Carre is a master at creating fully blown side characters, often marching through their own tragedies.

What side characters in your own work have caught more attention than you expected?

Neil: A bit early to say as we’re only published a few months. But some of the regulars are becoming old friends to us.

Matt: We have gathered quite the collection of locals, bit players in our stories, who all seem quite real. I’m beginning to think I know them better that the real humans who are my neighbors in my hamlet of Katonah!

CostelloRichardsCherringhamSnowblindFinally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

Neil: As well as crime I write a lot for children’s television and games. I’ll be at the Children’s Media Conference. Also Develop in Brighton – and the Forum on Financing Family movies in Erfurt Germany later this month. The last game I wrote – Broken Sword the Serpent’s Curse – is just out on most platforms. And the game company I’m a part of publish their first game Battleplan Gettysburg this month too. And Matt and I have the last three of the current series of Cherringham to write. After that, we have a much darker crime story to outline…

Matt: I’ve begun the third and final book in my Post-apocalyptic trilogy that began with 2012’s Vacation. I’m working on a major TV meets game project that I can’t talk about, and I am also working on a surreal interactive graphic novel project for Blue Rocket, based in Tasmania.

Places to Find Matt and Neil