Interview – Jerry Metal, author of the Heavy Metal Fairy Tales
SPS: For any of our readers that haven’t come across your work previously, can you take a moment to tell us all a little about yourself?
JM: I am a writer of heavy metal fairy tales! I have written 5 now which all feature a window maker who has an enchanted flying codpiece! I am based in Bristol in the UK. I have a cat called George and once crashed a furniture van into Brunel’s Suspension Bridge.
SPS: What are your perfect writing conditions, and how often do you write?
JM: I get a lot of my ideas whilst lying in the bath listening to classic heavy metal. I get even more when I put water in as well. I recently read a book on Quantum Creativity. It talks of 4 stages of creativity which seems to explain how I seem to incubate an idea on the edge of my consciousness for a while before it reveals itself in a Eureka moment. A lot of my writing tends to happen in fits and starts, there is not set pattern to when inspiration strikes. Sometimes when I am meditating on the next scene for my current book, I end up receiving a scene for one of my previous books which is weird, but goes to show that all of my books are a work in progress.
When I have writers block, I just try and write for half an hour. Normally this produces unexpected results and before I know it I have been at it for two hours.
SPS: Can you put your finger on the moment that you decided you wanted to publish your work?
JM: I was playing in a heavy metal band at the time and wanted to write a heavy metal musical in a similar vein to Rocky Horror but in the end it was going to be too much trouble so I turned it into a book instead. I really wanted to write a book so I could say I had actually done it. I had recently completed a Tony Robbins motivation course which used mantras as a way of achieving my goals. I spent several months walking to walk everyday focusing on this, then one day my first heavy metal fairy tale pretty much appeared fully formed.
SPS: Why do you think it is that you have decided to write the stories that you have, and do you see yourself ever writing in other genres?
JM: Being in a band with a window maker who wore a studded codpiece and punished vegetables with a mallet during the stage show definitely helped define the parameters. I can’t see myself writing about anything else to be honest. I wanted to write a book and this is what came out! I am proud to say I write heavy metal fairy tales. I think a window maker with a flying codpiece teaming up with heavy metal warriors from Planet Metal is a pretty unique concept and would make a great film franchise!
SPS: Why do you think it is that you have chosen to write in the shorter form, and do you see yourself ever writing a novel?
JM: I feel that short stories seem to suit me better and I wanted to write something in the style of Grimm’s Fairy Tales as I didn’t think I could write a ‘proper novel’. I am a big fan of comics so maybe they have structured my attention span over years of reading them! I don’t think I could maintain momentum on a full sized novel. Working on a book for several years would drive me crazy.
SPS: Before we look at specific releases from your Heavy Metal Fairy Tales series, can you fill us in on the main characters that feature throughout the series?
JM: The main character is Nestor the window maker, who owns and enchanted flying codpiece (the origin of which is revealed in book 4 The Robotic Badger of Doom parts 1 & 2.) When it is stolen by an evil wizard he teams up with some heavy metal knights from Planet Metal to retrieve it. They are Sir David of Rivett the dashing leader whose ‘sword is as sharp as his thirst and whose skin is painted with a thousand demons’, Anthony Strongbeard who protects Planet Metal with sword and stomach alike, Jason Quickfinger the ‘Riff Master Prime’ who fires off sonic magic from his enchanted lute, and finally Squeeker son of Squeerker the ‘Drum Lord Supreme’ who wields mallets of mayhem on his drums of doom! All of these characters are based on the guys I used to play with in our band Osmium in Bristol back in the day.
SPS: Just how much is based on real events?
JM: Well, Nestor really is a window maker by trade and he really did wear a studded codpiece on stage. Plus he used to ‘punish the vegetables’ half way through the heavy metal stage show (as featured in Book 1). Sir David of Rivett is actually called Dave Rivett and is adorned with beautiful ink (though it wasnt etched into his skin by mystical druids as mentioned in Book 4.) Jason Quickfinger (aka the late Jason Morris R.I.P) really did have fingers faster than a gazelle! And Strongbeard really does have a huge belly!
SPS: So, tell us a little about the first in the series, the wonderfully titled ‘The Window Maker, the Codpiece, and the Sex Gods from Planet Metal.’
JM: Yes, it is rather a long title isn’t it! The stories work as standalone adventures, but also follow on from each other in sequence. I always loved the way Marvel Comics used to refer to other story lines in the Marvel Universe so I have tried to incorporate this element in all five of my books by referring back to the previous adventures. I have also tried to add in as many Heavy Metal references as I can to enhance the Heavy Metal theme, in fact I even got permission from Judas Priests Management to use some lyrics from their song ‘Metal Gods’ as character dialogue in the dungeon scene in Return to Planet Metal! There is also a reference list at the back of each book for people to check against. You don’t need to be a fan of Metal to ‘get’ the references but if you are I thought it would be a fun element to the stories.
SPS: We understand it was originally created to be a musical, why the change of heart?
JM: At the beginning I had visions of a huge stage set with Brian Blessed narrating it from a turret at the side of the stage, but my fellow band mates thought I was crazy. And realistically it would have been a huge challenge to undertake. Books are much lighter to carry around, and quieter too!
SPS: What sort of reader do you feel the book would appeal to?
JM: fans of heavy metal due to the subject matter and references, but a few people have said they are in the vein of Terry Pratchett, which I guess is an unexpected compliment.
SPS: What can you tell us about the second release in the series, Return to Planet Metal?
JM: In Book 1 the Sex Gods from Planet Metal help Nestor out when his codpiece is stolen…In Return to Planet Metal, Nestor returns the favour when their queen is kidnapped by and evil baron with an army of mechanical soldiers! It features and exciting battle involving ‘turnip based’ warfare! Very exciting!
SPS: Is the story part of your original musical, or is a completely new idea?
JM: No, just Book One was originally done as a musical.
SPS: Where did the inspiration for the Mechanical Robots come from?
JM: I was listening to Metal Gods by Judas Priest in the bath one time which kind of gave me the basic idea. The lyrics talk of technology running amok and humanity being ruled by ‘Metal Gods’ with laser beaming hearts. The stuff of teenage dreams!
SPS: Do the heavy metal references just naturally come into the story, or do you set out to write around certain ideas?
JM: Some came naturally as I was writing, for example having a Mountain range named the ‘Blackmore’ after Richie Blackmore or by having one character saying ‘May Dio guide us on our quest!’ in reference to the late great Ronnie James Dio. Sometimes though I will hear a song lyric or a phrase and think ‘Where can I get that in as dialogue’ I recently watched ‘Anvil the story of Anvil’ so am gonna try and get a couple of their album titles in somewhere! (Metal on Metal and Juggernaut of Justice)
SPS: Before we move on, can you let us know briefly a little about another of the tales in your series, perhaps a favourite that we haven’t mentioned?
JM: Well, Book three (‘The Glass Eye That Wasn’t’) is a kind of solo adventure for Nestor, inspired by Marvel comics Solo Avengers run back in the 80’s. Book 4 is a two part adventure in which the evil wizard from book 1 is back and steals Sir David’s enchanted tattoos to power his monstrous invention the ‘Robotic Badger of Doom’. Book 5 ‘The Curse of the BeerWolf’ is a werewolf themed adventure inspired by an entry in the Roger’s Profanisaurus (for those who don’t know it, Roger’s Profanisaurus is a humorous book published in the United Kingdom by Dennis Publishing which is written in the style of a lexicon of profane words and expressions. It is a spin-off publication from the popular British adult comic Viz. )
SPS: It’s probably a good time to ask, what can we expect next from the pen of Jerry Metal? We‘re guessing, whatever it is, the title alone will be pretty unique?
JM: I am currently fleshing out Book 6 ‘The Fiend without a Fret board’ which is going to be a standalone adventure for Jason Quickfinger. I have set the scene in the epilogue at the end of Book 4 part 2. In the meantime I am setting up an online print shop and am currently creating some Banksy inspired spray stencil art based on the characters. They are going to be limited runs of 50 with each one being signed and numbered by my own fair hand.
SPS: Was the Self-Published/Indie-Published route always your preferred route for your work?
JM: Being able to self-publish is such an empowering feeling. When I was in bands I remember getting hundreds of rejection letters from record labels, so I was not looking forward to going through all that again with publishers. And too be honest a window maker in a flying codpiece is a pretty niche market! But I don’t care, I am very proud of what I have created and self-publishing has helped me to achieve this.
SPS: Has the experience so far been all that you thought it would be?
JM: I didn’t really have any expectations when I started. All I knew was that just I wanted to write a book as a goal in my life. I thought writing would be a linear process but for me it is clearly not. Every few months I get a musical reference out of the blue that fits with a scene in book 1 for example. Every time I think one of my stories is finished something else appears give it more depth! Hey…If George Lucas can revisit the first three Star Wars films and expand on the Mos Eisley space port, or add windows into that cloud city, then I can do the same in my books! Everyone’s writing journey is unique.
Also if you had told me ten years ago what the subject matter was, I wouldn’t have believed it! But I am very happy that it has turned out to be such an original concept! People always smile when I tell them what I have created!
SPS: If you could give one piece of advice for someone looking to get into writing, what would it be?
JM: That’s a hard one…Try and be original and just write for the enjoyment of writing. Try not to focus on ‘will my book sell?’ or ‘will people like it’ otherwise you may never get started. Also if you are struggling, try setting yourself a goal of writing for half an hour a day, as it can sometimes produce unexpected and rewarding results. Also work to your strengths…Mine came from bands and my love heavy metal so see what you have within to fuel your writing.
SPS: Before we bring this interview to a close, it’s your chance to name-drop. Anyone who you feel is deserving of more recognition at present or someone whose writing you have recently enjoyed? Now is your chance to spread the word…
JM: I Have recently read ‘Change Your Mind -57 ways to unlock your creative self’ by Rod Judkins. I recommend it for anyone looking to be inspired by their own creativity. Other than that I have read 62 volumes of the Essential Marvel Comics back to back.
SPS: Thank you for joining us today Jerry, and all the best for the future.
JM: Are we done? Can take off this codpiece now? It is starting to chafe. Ahhhhh that’s better! Many thanks, you are now an honorary member of Planet Metal!
SPS: For more on Jerry and his Heavy Metal Fairy Tales do visit his Showcase Author Page here.