Interview With Publisher Dave Ritzlin On Swords of steel--His Fantasy Anthology Series With Heavy Metal Ties
To many, the genre of fantasy is generalized by any story with magical elements, but to many fans, that is an oversimplified definition. Fantasy has multiple subgenres and subcultures that often get swept under the Lord of the Rings umbrella, and causes many niche fantasy fans to painstakingly navigate the popular titles for stories that fit their tastes.
Music is no exception. Everybody has different takes on what is considered hip-hop, rock, pop, and heavy metal. For the music genre purist, it can be hard to find music that aligns with your criteria. Luckily for hardcore, heavy metal fans and fans of pulpy fantasy from yesteryear, publisher Dave Ritzlin merges these two groups into his fantasy anthology series Swords of Steel.
“All the stories are written by members of heavy metal bands,” Dave Ritzlin said during his JBTV interview with Jerry Bryant on September 21st, 2018. “Some of [the bands these authors are from] are new, but in the underground scene some are pretty well known—like Manilla Road, who’s been around since the late 70’s, ” he added.
From the authors penning the stories to even the books’ artwork, “Martin Hanford is an artist from England and does a lot of album covers for the band Bal-Sagoth—who’s one of the bands [featured] in the book [series],” every aspect of Ritzlin's book series is rooted in heavy metal.
Now, we at JBTV Music had to get heavy metal recommendations from Ritzlin while he was in the studio, and he was happy to oblige. Ritzlin graciously brought in a video of Canadian, heavy metal band Gatekeeper’s song “Blade of Cimmeria.” Ritzlin connected with Gatekeeper through happenstance, “I met the guitarist [Jeff Black] at Chicago’s Legions of Metal music festival, and he's also a fan of these kinds of stories. Turns out, he had already been writing stories, so it was a perfect match.” Watch Gatekeeper's "Blade of Cimmeria" video below and read Jeff Black’s short story “Blue Mistress” in the first volume of Swords of Steel.
Another music recommendation Ritzlin had was another metal band tied to Swords of Steel--Eternal Champion, a Texas band whose name comes from Michael Moorcock’s Corum book series. “When I saw the name for the band, I figured they’re on the same page as me, and their singer [Jason Tarpey] wrote one of the most popular stories of the book,” Ritzlin said while donning an Eternal Champion shirt. You can listen to Eternal Champion below—and like Jeff Black’s story—you can read Jason Tarpey’s short story “Vengeance of the Insane God” in the first Swords of Steel.
For Ritzlin, this all started by being a frustrated consumer; “I’m a fan of not just the music, but also this type of fiction. In the past thirty or so years, there hasn’t been much [that] I liked. It’s either too weird, or just not good. So I figured people who are into heavy metal, they stick to traditions…they understand what it’s all about. So I asked them to write these kinds of stories and they delivered.”
With Swords of Steel having three volumes of stories currently available for purchase, it is an anthology series that continues to deliver for heavy metal fans and pulp fantasy lovers.
If you want to read a sample of Swords of Steel, go to dmrbooks.bandcamp for excerpts of all three books plus music from bands featured in the series.
Order all three volumes of Swords of Steel on DMRBooks.com and Amazon now!
Watch the full JBTV Interview with Dave Ritzlin below.