Connor Drexler is an urban fantasy author whose novel Mad God Walking releases in October!
Don't forget to read to the end to get a sneak peek of Connor's writing.
Tell us about yourself:
My name is Connor, I write a little bit, live in Brooklyn where I sell wine and spoil a cat named Hobbes.
Where did your inspiration to write Mad God Walking start?
My inspiration for Mad God came from reading all of the urban fantasy authors I loved, and wondering what it would be like if the main character was a little different. In a lot of urban fantasy you have a human private eye type character searching for a McGuffin item while trying to avoid some power and retain his humanity.
In Mad God, Damon is a creature from a parallel magic universe that operates far from the human experience. Because of his upbringing he is desperately trying to learn about humanity as an outsider. Also, I wanted to write a character who had fun with his magic while unknowingly falling into addiction.
What was the hardest thing about writing Mad God Walking?
Honestly, I had to research the psychology of sociopaths and addicts. Damen, like all creatures from the Sideways, is alien to most of the things that make us humans. His natural state is similar to a magical sociopath, so a lot of the book his him coming to terms with empathy as he gains more humanity though connections with his friends.
Writer’s block: How do you beat it?
Sometimes I just keep writing silly things until I pass through it, other times I step away and go for a walk in nature allowing my subconscious to work through the issues.
For the past year or so I have started playing the Hamilton soundtrack whenever I begin writing to trigger a pavlovian response. This had been surprisingly useful.
Do you have a favorite book or author? What do you love about them?
I love Haruki Murakami for his ability to create hidden worlds within our own.
What do you absolutely need in order to write?
Caffeine, sparkling water and a writing playlist that mirrors the atmosphere of the scene.
What do you love outside of writing and reading?
I work in the NY wine industry so I love going out to dinner with friends and drinking a great bottle of wine. Otherwise, my wife and I love traveling to the American Southwest and Asia.
Last summer my friends and I turned a 1980’s military Humvee into a murder black painted, fire shooting, near future assault vehicular for Burning Man. So that was fun.
Memories of the Night Hotel, Part One
In my dreams, I always returned to the Sideways and my childhood home, the Night Hotel. This time was no different. Alone, I walked down a burgundy carpet covering an endless, black, walnut-stained floor. Walking down a corridor with no doors, for what could have been a minute or a month, I felt the hard plaster of the hallway walls scrape across my palms. Yellow Edison bulbs hanging from the ceiling cast harsh waves of darkness, allowing my friends, the Shadows, to follow me. I tried to ignore their gossip: they’d tell me tales about the guests, the doors they most feared, and Aunt and Uncle. I am taller here. An angular face, mercury-colored eyes, and hair made from strands of pure silver looked back at me from a small, gold-wrought, Victorian mirror. On the sides of the mirror, twin flames danced inside glass lanterns and sang songs of endless hunger and lust. I greeted the fire in the tongue of the Sideways.
“Hello, hello, we can burn. Can we delight?” they sang. “Not this time,” I tell them and start to walk away. “We are yours. We dance for your delight.”
I stopped. “You don’t have to…”
“Can you, can you free us then? From her hate?” “Aunt’s?” “You know Aunt? Please don’t tell her anything. Watch as we dance, and forget our plight.”
I peered closer and saw two naked women, dancing on miniature pools of oil, become engulfed in fire. Burning red hair occasionally flickered blue, gyrating rhythmically to the crackling of their inner fire. The dancer’s yellow light reflected off my eyes, mirroring the color of a hunter’s moon. I reached out to the flames, and sensed the chains of a promise binding them to the mirror. Invisible chains had been forged out of an oath they had sworn to Aunt, the matriarch of the Night Hotel.
One of the dancers stopped and looked up at me. “We miss our mother, we miss our home…please.”
As the chains that bound her violently reasserted their binding, I felt shock. I had often seen humans stolen from their world and bound to something more real than anything in the Sideways, namely, a promise. It was customary here to trick humans into impossible promises, and then drag them back with us as slaves.
The woman screamed until she, once again, danced. I felt something in the back of my mind. An echo of something I had not felt since I was a child and first met Vera.
The echo grew louder and louder, until I sensed the disjointed orchestra of their pain. I drew in a deep breath and used my power to pull against the chains, using all of my strength. It seemed wrong somehow to me that they were bound, and it hurt pulling that hard. My heart raced, matching the power that bound the two, but the most I could do was loosen their chains and offer them a respite.
“I am so sorry,” I explained. “This is all I can do.”
With the chains loosened, one woman rested her face up on her pool of oil, gasping for breath. The other cried and struggled against her chains, then leapt from her pool. Without fuel, her flame began to burn out quickly. I instinctively caught her in my hand, but I didn’t have the power to keep her flame lit. As I held her, the flame faded away, the chains vanished, and she began to grow.
In my arms, I held the lifeless form of a beautiful girl. Her emaciated body was covered with tattoos, including one above her breast that read “Love will tear us apart 5/29/1977,” clearly a relic of a life she led before she found the Night Hotel. I held her for longer than I could remember, and soon small splashes of mercury fell on her limp body. I had never seen death, and I couldn’t imagine that anything could be this fragile. I heard a sob from the other girl, still chained to her pool and dancing for her fallen sister. “Uncle comes. Run!” Shadows warned me before they fled. Behind me, I heard heavy footsteps and felt wood buckle, as something willed the hallway to collapse in on itself, to shorten the distance between us.
Behind me, I heard someone yell, “You shouldn’t break Aunt’s things, child.”
When I spun around, Uncle loomed over me. His seven- foot tall body was made from black onyx and had a myriad of tiny, molten yellow cracks. He wore a silk smoking jacket and had an ivory pipe in his mouth. With one hand, he held my shoulder, his fire searing it black. When he bent over, a small stream of molten rock spilled out from his pipe onto my face. I remember screaming.