Author Interview: Nicky Drayden

Today I am interviewing Nicky Drayden, author of the new science-fiction and fantasy novel, Temper.

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DJ: Hi 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: Hi! Thanks for having me! I’m Nicky Drayden, author of The Prey of Gods, TEMPER, and a whole assortment of weird short stories. I like bending genres and pushing boundaries and squeezing my brain into uncomfortable places. I got my start by participating in National Novel Writing Month twelve years ago, and have been consumed by the need to tell stories ever since.

DJ: What is Temper about?


Nicky: At its heart, Temper is about a set of twins and how their relationship evolves as it’s tested by society, family secrets, and a demonic possession. It’s a pseudo-alternate history, set in a fantastical Cape Town where nearly everyone is born a twin, and the vices and virtues assigned to them during a religious ceremony determine their worth in the world. Auben, the main character, is assigned more vices than his twin, Kasim, and as a result, Auben is nearly guaranteed a life of poverty and strife. To make matters worse, Auben also starts hearing voices that speak to his dangerous side, and he must figure out a way to get rid of them before blood is spilled.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Temper?

Nicky: I wanted to tell a story of an African continent that escaped the ills of colonization, but the story that came out of me wasn’t what I had imagined. This world is full of oppression and injustice, of dark secrets and hidden hopes. I wanted to bring a completely immersive story to the reader, like Jemisin’s Broken Earth or Butler’s Dawn, something that throws the reader in the deep end and then teaches them to swim.

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: Unlike The Prey of Gods, which had six point-of-view characters, Temper has just one. I liked the idea of telling a good twin/bad twin story from the bad twin’s point of view, and the challenge of keeping the reader engaged with someone as they descend into darkness. Auben is seventeen when the novel starts, so his relative inexperience gives me a great vehicle to explain this complicated world to the reader, since he’s still figuring a lot of it out himself. Auben also has a keen sense of fashion, so I like that we get to see some of the world through that filter.

DJ: What is the world and setting of Temper like?

Nicky: It’s definitely a dystopia for most people. In addition to people being discriminated against according to the number of vices they have, there are also divisions around gender (there are four recognized genders in the book). People who are singletons, those born without a twin, are on the very bottom of the social ladder, and in the recent past, were killed for being “deficient.” Science is repressed and religion dominates. Demonic possessions are such a frequent occurrence that there are sometimes sales on exorcisms, especially in the winter months, when demons are particularly up to no good.

I had a lot of fun developing the architecture and the city layout. (There is a map in the book!) Curved brick walls separate the haves from the have nots, and while buildings are bland and blocky and intimidating in the poor areas, they’re lighter, brighter, and whimsical in richer areas. Many of the buildings are modeled after actual buildings in South Africa.

DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Temper?

Nicky: I loved pushing myself to go darker and darker, plunging deeper into this hole that Auben is trying to dig himself out of. It was a big challenge to show depravity and vice set up against hope and virtue…and sometimes vice-versa.

DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?

Nicky: Well, I think they’ll be reeling from the twists and turns and adventure, but throwing a little-bit-of-everything into the story is my signature Nicky Drayden move.

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 Temper that you can share with us?

Nicky: “Tempers flare. Maybe there’s some cussing. Maybe even a fight. But tempers fade eventually. Doubt lingers. Burrows through your heart, steals away your happiness. Slowly consumes you from within.”

DJ: Now that Temper is released, what is next for you?

Nicky:  I’m getting geared up to put the finishing touches on my next book, Escaping Exodus, which is a space opera about the unlikely heir to the command of a biological, city-size starship carved up from the insides of a spacefaring beast. Space politics and family drama with a heaping side of tentacles sums it up nicely. It’ll be out next summer!

DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?  

Author Newsletter:

DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!

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*** Temper is published by Harper Voyager and is available TODAY!!! ***

Buy the Book: 

Amazon | Barnes & NobelGoodreads | Kobo

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About the Book:

Two brothers.
Seven vices.
One demonic possession.
Can this relationship survive?

Auben Mutze has more vices than he can deal with—six to be exact—each branded down his arm for all the world to see. They mark him as a lesser twin in society, as inferior, but there’s no way he’ll let that define him. Intelligent and outgoing, Auben’s spirited antics make him popular among the other students at his underprivileged high school. So what if he’s envious of his twin Kasim, whose single vice brand is a ticket to a better life, one that likely won’t involve Auben.

The twins’ strained relationship threatens to snap when Auben starts hearing voices that speak to his dangerous side—encouraging him to perform evil deeds that go beyond innocent mischief. Lechery, deceit, and vanity run rampant. And then there are the inexplicable blood cravings. . . .

On the southern tip of an African continent that could have been, demons get up to no good during the time of year when temperatures dip and temptations rise. Auben needs to rid himself of these maddening voices before they cause him to lose track of time. To lose his mind. And to lose his . . .


About the Author:

Nicky Drayden is a systems analyst, and when she’s not debugging code, she’s detangling plot lines and mixing metaphors. Her debut novel, The Prey of Gods (Harper Voyager), featured in The New York Times Best of New Science Fiction and Fantasy and The Wall Street Journal’s Summer Reading: One Expert, One Book. Drayden’s sophomore novel, Temper, is forthcoming this fall. Her travels to South Africa as a college student influenced both of these works, and she enjoys blurring the genre lines between mythology, science fiction, fantasy, horror, and dark humor.

Drayden learned to write novels the old fashioned way, by banging out a crappy draft during the month of November with thousands of other aspiring novelists. In between novels, she frequently dabbles in short fiction, with over 30 stories in publications such as Shimmer, Daily Science Fiction, and Space and Time Magazine.

During her stint as managing editor for The Drabblecast, she helped continue the speculative fiction podcast’s tradition of bringing strange stories to strange listeners. Once a year, she’d escape the slush trenches to work on “Women and Aliens Month” a special series featuring alien stories written by luminaries such as Lauren Beukes, Nnedi Okorafor, and Alaya Dawn Johnson.

Nicky Drayden lives and writes in Austin, Texas where being weird is highly encouraged, if not required. Her novel-length work is represented by Jennifer Jackson at the Donald Maass Literary Agency, and you can find out more about her at or catch her on twitter @nickydrayden.

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2 thoughts on “Author Interview: Nicky Drayden

  1. Patricia Edwards says:

    I enjoyed reading this entertaining interview, the author is very expressive and lively.


  2. Tempers flare. Maybe there’s some cussing. Maybe even a fight. But tempers fade eventually. Doubt lingers. Burrows through your heart, steals away your happiness. Slowly consumes you from within.”

    Wow this makes so much sense and I love it. Glad to hear from Nicky!


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