Today I am interviewing Nicky Drayden, author of the new fantasy, science-fiction novel, The Prey of Gods.
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DJ: Hey Nicky! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Nicky Drayden: Hello! Thanks for having me! Well, I’m a systems analyst out of Austin, Texas who’s been writing fiction for about 15 years. I mostly dabble in science fiction, fantasy, and weird–usually all three combined.
DJ: What is The Prey of Gods about?
Nicky: THE PREY OF GODS is a near future thriller set in South Africa in which a diverse set of characters imbued with supernatural abilities by a street drug called Godsend must band together against a disenfranchised goddess who intends to remake their world and change the fate of humanity forever.
DJ: What were some of your influences for The Prey of Gods?
Nicky: The initial concept came to me after reading Ian McDonald’s River of Gods, which is set in a futuristic India. I’d been to Port Elizabeth, South Africa back when I was in college, and I thought it’d be interesting to imagine how the experiences I had there could translate into a work of speculative fiction.
As far as character influences go, the first character I wrote for this book, a disenfranchised demigoddess working as a nail tech, came to me while I was driving around downtown Houston and saw a salon sign that said “Magic Nails.” I thought about how cool it would be if they really did use magic to do nails, but then wondered what kind of person would be giving manicures if they could do magic…and from that character sketch Sydney was born.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?
Nicky: I’ve got six main characters who are all very much flawed. Any of them could be the antagonist of the story, which I think makes them easy for readers to connect to. Nomvula, a ten-year-old girl coming to grips with her newfound powers commits atrocities worse than the villainess of the story. Muzi, a teenager with mind control, makes bad decision after bad decision. Nearly every page you want to shake some sense into him, but you never stop cheering for him. They’re all complicated, frustrating, and relatable.
DJ: What is the world and setting of The Prey of Gods like?
Nicky: The world is our world, 50 years into the future. It’s bordering on a utopia, but it definitely went through a lot of growing pains to get there. They’ve dealt with class issues, environmental issues, unemployment issues. Many of Africa’s majestic animals have gone extinct, but have been brought back through genetic engineering. Technological advancements such as solar powered wells are able to make water out of the atmosphere and offer infrastructure to remote areas. And artificial intelligence, namely autonomous robots called alphies, have made life easier for everyone. The future looks promising, if you can ignore the easily frustrated demigoddess hellbent on bringing humanity to its knees.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing The Prey of Gods?
Nicky: I loved the challenge of weaving the characters’ stories together in a cohesive manner. Most of the characters have never met before the story begins, but they’re all connected in various and multiple ways. For example, in Sydney’s first chapter, she’s giving a magical manicure to a woman who’s attending a fundraiser for Councilman Stoker. In another scene, Rita Natrajan, the pop diva in the story, unknowingly shares a robot taxi with Muzi’s brother-in-law and is secretly romantic with Muzi’s best friend’s cousin. It’s a knotty tangle of threads, but I think a few snags make the tapestry more interesting.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Nicky: How crazy of a ride I took them on. I love to hear how characters made readers laugh, or made them cuss, or made them miss their subway stop. I hope readers get totally immersed in the story, and stay immersed, even after the last page has been read.
DJ: Did you have a goal when you began writing The Prey of Gods? Is there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?
Nicky: The theme of identity runs through each character’s story, and also the theme of what makes a family. I’m not really one for shoving messages at the reader, but I hope maybe they reflect on the importance of these ideas as they’re reading, and how they touch their own lives.
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from The Prey of Gods that you can share with us?
Nicky: Sydney closes her eyes and sighs to herself. She’ll have to be more careful. If Zinhle thinks she’s a witch, it’s only a matter of time before the other ladies find out. Even if they don’t believe it, rumors are enough to cast suspicious looks in Sydney’s direction, making it harder to do those things she does.
She laughs at the idea, wishing it were that simple.
DJ: Now that The Prey of Gods is released, what is next for you?
Nicky: I just finished the draft to my second book. It’s an African-inspired humorous dark fantasy with a heavy helping of steampunk. More gods and robots to look forward to!
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B071HMF6YS
Author Newsletter: http://www.nickydrayden.com/newsletter-2/
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about The Prey of Gods that we haven’t talked about yet?
Nicky: There’s a plague of dik-diks! One of the plot points revolves around an overpopulation of these cute little critters, small antelopes no bigger than the family dog. It was fun to make something so cute cause so much mayhem. Plus there’s the benefit of awful dik-dik puns. I love bad puns in general, and I’m not afraid to use them. You’ve been warned.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
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*** The Prey of Gods is published by Harper Voyager and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Nobel | Goodreads | Kobo
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*A Wall Stree Journal “Summer Reading: One expert. One book” pick for 2017!
*The RT Book Reviews “June 2017: Seal of Excellence” pick!
*A B&N Sci Fi and Fantasy Blog “Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books of 2017 So Far” pick!
From a new voice in the tradition of Lauren Beukes, Ian McDonald, and Nnedi Okorafor comes The Prey of Gods, a fantastic, boundary-challenging tale, set in a South African locale both familiar and yet utterly new, which braids elements of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and dark humor.
In South Africa, the future looks promising. Personal robots are making life easier for the working class. The government is harnessing renewable energy to provide infrastructure for the poor. And in the bustling coastal town of Port Elizabeth, the economy is booming thanks to the genetic engineering industry which has found a welcome home there. Yes—the days to come are looking very good for South Africans. That is, if they can survive the present challenges:
A new hallucinogenic drug sweeping the country . . .
An emerging AI uprising . . .
And an ancient demigoddess hellbent on regaining her former status by preying on the blood and sweat (but mostly blood) of every human she encounters.
It’s up to a young Zulu girl powerful enough to destroy her entire township, a queer teen plagued with the ability to control minds, a pop diva with serious daddy issues, and a politician with even more serious mommy issues to band together to ensure there’s a future left to worry about.
Fun and fantastic, Nicky Drayden takes her brilliance as a short story writer and weaves together an elaborate tale that will capture your heart . . . even as one particular demigoddess threatens to rip it out.
Nicky Drayden is a Systems Analyst who dabbles in prose when she’s not buried in code. She resides in Austin, Texas where being weird is highly encouraged, if not required. Her debut novel THE PREY OF GODS is forthcoming from Harper Voyager this summer, and is set in a futuristic South Africa brimming with demigods, robots, and hallucinogenic hijinks. See more of her work at http://www.nickydrayden.com or catch her on twitter @nickydrayden.