Get to know our contributors better with our Contributor Spotlights. Dylan Madeley is the copy editor for Auxiliary Magazine and a frequent contributor. He conducts interviews and writes articles for Auxiliary as well as contributing his writing talents to additional copy and introductions throughout each issue. He brings several years of experience covering the Toronto dark alternative scene with toronto-goth.com and reviewing books for Morbid Outlook. Dylan published his first novel, The Gift-Knight’s Quest, in 2015 and has written several novels since. His new novel Alathea: Goddess & Empress releases May 1st 2020. We thought now would be a good time to catch up.
What creative projects are you up to currently? What do you do that you want to tell our readers about?
My current focus is something that could be considered a standalone volume or a companion to the Gift-Knight trilogy of fantasy novels. It all depends whether you’ve read the others yet. If you haven’t, you don’t have to, but if you do, you enter the work with an enriched understanding of the fictional world. The book is called Alathea: Goddess & Empress, and it’s out May 1, already up for preorders. Beyond Auxiliary Magazine, that book is my main pursuit. It’s about a sheltered and privileged but frightened young heiress who is forced to quickly step into her power. She has a bold dream of peace and stability for the empire just like her father, but she has different ideas about how to pursue that, and only one shot at proving herself right. She faces a series of lessons and obstacles along the path to becoming the same Alathea that we properly meet in chapter two of The Crown Princess’ Voyage (book 2, the Gift-Knight trilogy). The official book launch had to be postponed, and I had been looking forward to that since the beginning of the year. Now my most consistent daily project is promoting this work online, because I don’t get that boost from the postponed Ad Astra literary conference nor the book launch party that would have taken place there.
What is some of your experience? Schooling? Past jobs? Past projects?
From graduating high school I went straight to York University and completed a four year Honours Double Major B.A. in Professional Writing (Periodical Stream) and Social and Political Thought. During that B.A. I was a karate instructor, and that kept on for a couple of years after as wear and tear began to set in. Around the same time as I graduated, I took some time to get my bearings, and somewhat regret that as by the time I was looking to apply to any jobs whatsoever, many publications were only hiring unpaid interns for editing and the economy in general was on the brink of a sharp recession. I did temp work in a bindery and was beginning to do all right for myself when I got repetitive strain injuries in both my wrists, and from there my martial arts career and temp agency work took a down turn. Somewhere in the middle of that, a former student offered me editing and transcribing work, and I had some trickle of income while I figured things out. I traveled a couple of times on my own to Amsterdam and Melbourne, Australia, respectively, then a limited tour of Ethiopia, gathering some form of inspiration for a book I would be ready to release a few years later called The Gift-Knight’s Quest. Concurrent to this I had been churning out rough drafts since National Novel Writing Month, November 2008, and by 2012 I was pretty restless to shop that book around to publishers and get it done one way or the other just so something in life would get moving for me. I had a couple of stints living in midtown Toronto with roommates and it was great to taste a quasi-independence and the ability to explore life without the feeling of being watched or having my quirky lifestyle judged somehow. Rewinding to the early 2000s and the university years, that was also when I was a regular interviewer and contributor to (now-defunct, or living a second life as a Facebook Page/Group?) Toronto Goth dot com, photographically documenting events and using this commitment to get out of the house and meet people, and I suppose this side quest is what got me experience and credentials to apply to Auxiliary Magazine prior to 2012. I also had a brief stint being one of the submission critics/participants of EXISTERE Literary Journal. I currently get steady income from Lush Cosmetics Manufacturing, even in the current situation, but before all this COVID-19 stuff happened I was there for full time work. Decorating bath bombs in their production facility is not the kind of work I can do from home.
What are some of your passions?
I like to work on connecting with people, especially in the artistic realm. I just find my way to people’s projects in a disorganized way and spread the positive social media activity to whatever they’re doing to help them feel supported in a way that I can readily afford. Beyond photography, I have a limited reach into the visual arts, so I especially like to support aesthetic profiles with outfits and makeup as well as art share profiles to appreciate some of the things I’ve never managed to do. I like buying up many indie author ebooks and eventually reading them. I sometimes love to check out media that everyone was talking about when I was younger and didn’t have access to it, just to see whether I missed out.
How are you spending your time during social distancing?
Things have become very routine in a good way. My sleep schedule is pretty stable, though I stay up as late as I can some nights for live streams from DJs, shows like SubFrequencies, Prophecy, and Darkness Forever. I try to engage in a bit of physical activity at home every day, from planking to other isometric things that don’t make a loud noise to disturb the new tenants downstairs. I am typically on Twitter grinding it out, finding every “drop your book link here” thread and promoting my upcoming release, which is time sensitive and an “on and off all day” type of activity. I sometimes do an Easy Mode run of a turn-based strategy game or a chill few hours of No Man’s Sky. I check my Folding@home rank to see if I’ve climbed, and my laptop hums in the background as it digitally folds proteins for science; I try to give it a cold boot time off every week or so. I also spent a good part of my first full week of layoff editing Alathea: Goddess & Empress, and in classic editorial fashion, still found things to fix weeks later during final formatting. I suppose I’ll be done that no later than April 27, the release uploading deadline.
What is one thing that’s keeping you in a good mindset or you’d recommend right now? An album, show, book, hobby, self care ritual?
My parents own and operate a private school that runs from pre-Kindergarten through a few scattered cases of Grade 8. They are now put in a situation where the school year was abruptly interrupted and students still need to learn something from home, so they’re braving the learning of new video and conferencing technologies that they were happy to ignore before. I’m sometimes called in for technical support. They are doing all they can for their dream in the face of catastrophe and it’s quite something watching them work to keep it going. I also benefit from reliable plumbing and water heating and an okay bath tub (better than Econo, but not nearly a claw foot) so that every other day I can take a bath. My employee bath bomb stockpile long since used up, I still keep Epsom salts handy. My advice for other people in layoff during this time is you don’t necessarily need to accomplish anything stupendous when you’re free to rest and heal, but you probably know better than anyone what you need to do. I see creative people doing things right now because it’s the thing they do, but not because they’re fretting over accomplishing brilliance now that there is time. Your number one job, as it tends to be every day, is surviving; your own survival, and your friends and loved ones and whoever you’re with. Build up from there if you feel like you need the challenge, but please don’t compromise that prime directive. My four-time cover artist (Rona Dijkhuis) once taught me that mindset for every bad day one is just pushing through, and I try to remember it especially during these times. It’s okay to not always be happy, to feel your feelings, but take care of yourself and the important things in your own way.