Author: Drew Magary
Release Date: August 2, 2016
From the author of The Postmortal, a fantasy saga unlike any you’ve read before, weaving elements of folk tale and video game into a riveting, unforgettable adventure of what a man will endure to return to his family
When Ben, a suburban family man, takes a business trip to rural Pennsylvania, he decides to spend the afternoon before his dinner meeting on a short hike. Once he sets out into the woods behind his hotel, he quickly comes to realize that the path he has chosen cannot be given up easily. With no choice but to move forward, Ben finds himself falling deeper and deeper into a world of man-eating giants, bizarre demons, and colossal insects.
On a quest of epic, life-or-death proportions, Ben finds help comes in some of the most unexpected forms, including a profane crustacean and a variety of magical objects, tools, and potions. Desperate to return to his family, Ben is determined to track down the “Producer,” the creator of the world in which he is being held hostage and the only one who can free him from the path.
At once bitingly funny and emotionally absorbing, Magary’s novel is a remarkably unique addition to the contemporary fantasy genre, one that draws as easily from the world of classic folk tales as it does from video games. In The Hike, Magary takes readers on a daring odyssey away from our day-to-day grind and transports them into an enthralling world propelled by heart, imagination, and survival.
Your last novel, The Postmortal, was a page-turning apocalyptic Sci-Fi saga, and THE HIKE falls more under the cannon of fantasy and it seems to be rooted in both classic fairy tales and old video games. Was there anything in particular that inspired you to switch genres?
Nah I just try to follow the best idea and not worry about genre. I mean, I gladly would have done another sci-fi book if it had worked out but this was just the idea I ended up chasing. And I swear I’m not one of those annoying people who switches up genres just so they can be like I WON’T BE CATEGORIZED. In fact, I started two other sci-fi books and ended up stalling on them because I just couldn’t figure out how to advance them. And while they sat in limbo, I went to a college in PA to give a speech and before the speech, I walked out behind my hotel into the woods and found myself very much alone. And then I started to worry about getting lost, and bears coming for me, and deranged killers popping out from behind the trees. And suddenly there was a very clear idea in my head, one that I was able to follow all the way through without any hiccups. That’s just how it happens sometimes.
How would you describe THE HIKE in one sentence?
A man goes on a hike and gets very, very, very, very, very, very, very lost.
The novel’s protagonist Ben, an average family man from Bethesda, goes out for a stroll in the foothills of the Poconos and finds himself in an alternate, dreamlike dimension full of talking crabs, flesh-eating monsters, gravity-defying trains, and axe murderers with Rottweiler masks. Were there any artists or books that inspired the world you were able to create?
There’s a lot of influences in there, including old King’s Quest PC games (these were games where you moved from one screen to the next and sometimes clues or important items wouldn’t appear until you randomly entered a house for, like, the fifth time and shit), the Wizard of Oz (because there’s a road to follow), Cast Away (I will watch or read anything about people stranded alone someplace awful), The Princess Bride (which is a great old-fashioned adventure story but has brilliant dialogue and fun characters a kind of modern sensibility and humor to it despite being really traditional), It’s A Wonderful Life (which is fucking creepy as hell at the end, and I liked the idea of a guy being stuck in an alternate dimension and trying to come to grips with it), and more. I didn’t deliberately fashion anything after those influences, it just came out that way.
Both you and your protagonist are the father of three kids, and many parents might have moments where they fantasize about escaping into an alternate universe which is precisely what happens to Ben. Is this idea something you wanted to investigate in this novel? Did writing THE HIKE make you think differently about your own family?
My kids are a little older now, so I’m past the phase where you’re always trying to get time for yourself and accepting that this is how parenthood works. If anything, I tend to be away too often, whether it’s on a business trip (which has become a really lonely experience for me), or whether I’m lost in my own head. And so I guess a lot of the novel is about the idea of drifting away, and not realizing it until you’re not sure if you can make it back.
You are one of the most widely read columnists on the web, you write critically acclaimed fiction, and you’re a Chopped champion. What do you consider you’re greatest achievement?
My family. Okay, are they gone? Can I stop lying now? Okay, now that they’re gone: CHOPPED.
In an interview about your memoir Someone Could Get Hurt, US News and World Report tabbed you as the Internet’s Ranter-in-Chief. For those who haven’t read your columns, can you explain the nickname?
I yell about stuff and use the word FUCK a lot. Also, I have a whole preseason NFL series where I essentially roast every NFL team, and that has a large following.
Between your Deadspin columns and contributing essays for GQ.com, you have one of the most dedicated following of readers of any writer, online or otherwise. Do you feel any pressure to inject the tone of your nonfiction writing into your fiction?
Oh sure. That voice has served me well at GQ and Deadspin and anywhere else where I’ve written, and it comes naturally to me whenever I start yammering on about anything. So whenever I do a book, I want a little bit of that in there to bring in old readers, but it can’t be the WHOLE thing, you know? It has to be a great story on its own. So this book has a bit of that in there, especially with the Crab character, but not so much of the voice that it overpowers it.
From fiction to memoir, professional football to politics, your writing spans a breadth of topics, genres, and forms. What are you working on next?
Drew Magary is a correspondent for GQ and a columnist for Deadspin. He is the author of the memoir Someone Could Get Hurt and the novels The Postmortal and The Hike (out 8/2). His writing has appeared in Maxim, New York magazine, The Atlantic, Bon Appétit, The Huffington Post, the Awl, Gawker, Penthouse, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and on Comedy Central, NPR, NBC, ESPN, and more. He lives in Maryland with his wife and three kids, and is a Chopped champion.
Giveaway: (3) Winners will receive a hardcover copy of THE HIKE - Open to US only!