Author profile pictureI'm MJ Bridger, or Matt to those who know me. From an early age my father exposed me to something he probably shouldn't have, and that was the film Excalibur. Containing scenes of shining knights and golden-walled castles, not to mention gruesome scenes of knightly violence, I was captivated. This then, equally troublingly so, followed on with my watching fantasy films like Conan (both of them) and Red Sonja before I should have been allowed to. Thus began my descent into the rabbit hole of swords and sorcery.

Being a somewhat introspective child, I learned that the realm of imagination allowed one to travel to places great and extroardinary. This allowed me to take the roles of heroic characters using their strength and skill to overcome all obstacles, while the mundane world proved a little less interesting (I mean, there were no dragons, cyborgs, ninjas, zombies or wizards that I had met). And so began a lifetime of acting out or picturing fantastic worlds and heroic deeds. Hardly a day goes by when I'm not imagining something involving swords, dragons, or outer space.

Fast forwards some time later and I get a regular job like you're expected to do, but it's only the means to an end. The end of course was finally writing down all these ideas that kept teeming around my head. I finally take the plunge and go part-time while writing my first novel - Monk-son of Kunlun, part 1 of the Khalduni Wars. It turned out such a big story that it was recommended to me that I split it into two books, so that people didn't feel like they were buying a brick made of paper. Thus we got Forbidden History too. But within this new fantasy world that I had created, I wanted to tell other stories too, so I ended up writing three short stories, planting them under the Tales of the Ten Kingdoms monicker.

Life however, as often happens, had other ideas for me. Apparently I wasn't done growing yet. So along comes my daughter. With my wife being the earner of the family, it was decided that I would be the stay-at-home parent. You'd have thought that having all that time to myself would allow me to get more writing done. If you thought that however, chances are you're not a parent (or perhaps are better at managing your time than I am). Four years go by and my daughter is finally old enough for full-time education.

With this new-found freedom I can at last return to the world of imagination which I do so love. Time and distance however gave me the chance to refine my vision for my fantasy world. So I elected to restart the story I had begun telling in Monk-son of Kunlun, focussing more on the themes that made the story good. A reboot if you will.

In between all this I took up martial arts when I was in my teens as a way of improving my overall health. Whilst not particularly enjoying the fighting aspect of it, I do so love the movements and the group effort that goes into it. Everyone learning together. After 17 years of karate, earning myself a first-degree black belt, I took a break from that and tried out other things; capoeira, jiu-jjitsu, a bit of Jeet Kun Do. Nowadays I'm part of the Cardiff Kung Fu Academy, and enjoying it immensely. So much of what you learn in kung fu gets applied to most things we do in life, since apparently "kung fu" means any activity that you dedicate time and effort to. Getting to mess about with Chinese weapons doesn't hurt its appeal either.

As a lover of stories, naturally I am a lover of films. As such I am also a lover of interative movies, or computer games if you like that term better. I am particularly fond of single-player, story-based games, mostly because it means I play on my own and nobody gets to see how truly awful I am at these things. I also like to combine my love of swinging weapons about with my love of partaking in other peoples' stories by doing Live Action Roleplaying, as well as more traditional pen-and-paper role-playing games. If I can wield a sword and fight demons, dragons, monsters and general villainy, than I'm there.

As a final side-note, having been born in Wales I am also a reasonably okay Welsh speaker. This basically translates as being able to actually read the signs for place-names here. And yes, before you ask, I can say the long one (Llanfair-pwll-gwyn-gyll-gogerych-gwyn-drob-wyll-llandiseilo-go-go-goch).