Author Interview: Nicholas Conley
I had taken a bit of a hiatus on Author Features. With my move and the countless other projects I had, I got a little backed up. But I’m back, and today I am interviewing Nicholas Conley, the author of The Cage Legacy.
RF: Why don’t you start by telling us about all about you?
Writing is my life’s passion, and I’ve been putting words to the page since early childhood. My 2012 debut novel, The Cage Legacy, was published by Post Mortem Press when I was 23 years old. My novella Enslavement was featured in the anthology Road to Hell the year before that, and I’ve had almost 50 short story publications to date. I’m currently working on three new novels, all of them in various stages of development.
RF: Since you already touched on it, tell us about The Cage Legacy.
NC: Basically, The Cage Legacy is the story of a kid who has always thought he had the best father in the world…until one night, when he’s ten years old, the cops bust down the door and he finds out that dear old Dad is actually a horrifyingly brutal serial killer. So now, that kid, Ethan Cage, is seventeen. He’s going through the usual rites of passage – high school, alcohol, his first real relationship – but deep inside, he’s absolutely terrified about what kind of person he’s going to turn into. If his dad, that great guy he always looked up, could secretly harbor a mutilated slew of corpses…it makes Ethan wonder, what kind of monster is waiting inside him?
So yes, it’s a story about inner darkness. A story about what happens in the wake of a serial killer’s rampage. A story about adolescence, about identity, about the demons lurking inside us.
But most of all, The Cage Legacy is about a father and son – and what happens when that sacred bond is torn to pieces.
RF: What inspired this idea?
NC: Honestly, what really inspired The Cage Legacy was my father’s death, back when I was only a teenager. Losing a father at such a young age –especially when one has an amazing relationship with your dad, as I did – is a really traumatic, life-changing thing. It shakes a person’s foundations, raises a lot of questions and forces the child to confront a lot of adult responsibilities that one isn’t necessarily ready for. And like many teenagers, most of my high school years were spent struggling to forge my own identity, while making many mistakes along the way.
Though Ethan has a somewhat unique fatherly experience, what with his dad being a serial killer, I do believe that he is still an extremely relatable character. His emotions are painfully real, his frustrations genuine, and I’ve had many readers tell me how much they connected to Ethan, because even if one hasn’t lost or become estranged from a parent, the issues that Ethan faces are pretty universal – albeit, a bit more horrifying.
RF: What is the most embarrassing mistake you’ve made as a writer?
NC: Oh, God! When I first starting submitting short stories to various literary magazines, anthologies and so on, I was about sixteen. And there was one time I sent a story to a magazine, but I accidentally wrote the cover letter out to the editor of an entirely different magazine. Instant rejection!
RF: What is your favorite Quote?
NC: “All writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. For all one knows that demon is simply the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention. And yet it is also true that one can write nothing readable unless one constantly struggles to efface one’s own personality. Good prose is like a windowpane.” – George Orwell
RF: What is one of your favorite place in the world?
NC: I visited Iceland this last summer and was pretty damn impressed by it. Aside from being astoundingly beautiful, Iceland has a fascinating culture and history. Honestly, it feels like walking into another world. Reykjavik is definitely one of the most interesting cities I’ve ever set foot in.
Of course, I’ll always have a deep, deep love for the southwestern United States. I lived in Arizona for much of my childhood, and I’d imagine that the lifelong affection it gave me for ruddy, desert landscapes will probably stick with me for the rest of my life.