Notes & Narratives goes “On the Record” with sci-fi author Nicky Drayden

by: Tania Lasenburg

If you aren’t paying attention, let me tell you that African American Women being part of the science fiction and speculative writing world is nothing new. We’ve been here and for some, you all are just now catching up to things that are going on.

Nicky Drayden (@nickydrayden) has been publishing stories for years. It hasn’t been until recently that she began blessing us with full fledged novels. Fresh off the release of her newest novel, Temper, Ms. Nicky gives Notes and Narratives a bit of insight to her process.

N&N: First things first, I would like to congratulate you on your latest novel “Temper” How has the success of your first novel “The Prey of Gods” help you with your newest release?

ND: Thank you! Publishing is definitely a industry that makes you learn quickly. The Prey of Gods got a LOT of love, and I’m really thankful for all of the new fans that have helped to spread the word about the book. This time around with Temper, I had to contend not only with launching a book, but also editing another book, and writing a short story series for Magic the Gathering. It’s a lot to juggle, but it’s also amazing. When I can put the world aside, and sit down with just me and my story, I remember what I love so much about writing.

N&N: Writing is nothing new to you as you have plenty of short stories on your list of works. But writing isn’t your full time job as you noted on your website. Why do write? And specifically, why did you choose to write speculative fiction?

ND: Speculative fiction is what pours out of my mouth whenever I open it, so I’m not sure I have much of a choice in the matter. It’s what I prefer to read, as well. I’m drawn to the “what if” aspects of the genre, exploring what drives humanity. Writing is a great way for me to process what’s going on inside my head and in the world, and it’s a way to give back to the creative pool that we all draw from.

N&N: How do you balance the reader and writer in you?

ND: One of the best parts of being a published author is getting free books! Now, that usually comes with the expectation that I’ll blurb them or in some cases, I get to interview the author. For better or worse, a lot of my reading now falls under the professional category instead the of the leisure one, but I hope to do more reading just for fun next year, because my TBR pile is getting out of hand with all of the amazing titles coming out lately.

I usually like to use my best brain hours, the mornings for me, to do my writing, and do my reading in the evenings or before sleep. Unless a book just grips me, in which case I won’t put it down.

N&N: If you had to describe your writing style, what would it be and why?

ND: I trust my muse and let her have the wheel. Ideas flow out of my head and onto the page, then at some point, it’s up to me to weave it all together and make sense of it. It’s a great challenge, and one of my favorite parts about writing.

N&N: Out of all the stories you have written, who is your favorite character? What makes them different from the rest?

ND: One of the minor characters in TEMPER, Uncle Pabio was my favorite to write. He’s zany and creative, and gets to do a little writing of his own in the novel. I love the relationship between him and Auben, the main character. They adore each other, and complement each others’ faults perfectly.  

N&N: What is your favorite slept on novel?

ND: I’m always telling people about MONGRELS by Stephen Graham Jones. It’s an amazing coming of age story about a boy and his family of werewolves living on the outskirts of society. He has yet to “wolf out,” and is nervous about his place in the family, but we also get a great slice of life and all of the challenges they face that go much deeper than the standard angry mobs and silver bullets.

N&N: What does success in the publishing world look like to you?

ND: Being in it for the long haul. After my first novel came out, I started to realize it’s a marathon and not a sprint, and started to take precautions to avoid burnout. Being a writer can quickly take a physical toll, if you’re not careful. I’d like to be in the position where I can publish books and also have time for family and friends. I may not be able do everything that I want, but for each project I take on, I want it to be something I love and am excited for.

N&N: Finally, what advice would you give for those who want to write speculative fiction?

ND: Write what makes you uncomfortable. Push your boundaries. You’ll not only grow your craft, but you’ll also grow as a person.