Between President Trump鈥檚 (unsuccessful) immigration ban and February鈥檚聽National Immigrant Strike, 2017 has been full of political conversations聽about the role immigrants play in the US. With all of the ongoing debates, it鈥檚 easy to lose sight of the individuals聽behind the聽headlines. Now one YA novel is keeping the focus squarely on those stories. Marie Marquardt鈥檚 The Radius of Usfollows two teens 鈥 Gretchen and Phoenix 鈥 who fall in love, even as Phoenix鈥檚 legal status hangs in limbo. Their relationship will make you swoon, while Phoenix鈥檚聽circumstances will change your understanding of the challenges immigrants face. We caught up with Marquardt and chatted about her lady heroes, her creativity tips, and more.

Brit + Co: Describe your book in six words or less.

MM: Girl runs from boy. Turns around!

Brit + Co: Where/when do you do your best writing?

MM: In my home office, before dawn, when everyone else in the house is still sleeping 鈥 except for maybe the dog. She sometimes wakes up and keeps me company.

B+C: What鈥檚 your go-to cure for when you鈥檙e stuck in a creativity rut?

MM: Music and fresh air. I have songs that I associate with each part of a story. If I get stuck, I go for a walk around the block and listen to the song, over and over.

B+C: What two lady heroes do you turn to for inspiration, and why?

MM: Dorothy Day: She was a true American revolutionary, and her work and message remain so relevant today. Here鈥檚 one of my favorite quotes from her: 鈥淒on鈥檛 call me a saint. I don鈥檛 want to be dismissed so easily.鈥

Wonder Woman: Like so many women, I juggle an enormous range of responsibilities in any given day. My critique partner (who knows my crazy life all-too-well) gave me a Wonder Woman decal that reads: 鈥淣o stunt doubles. This is all me.鈥 I have it posted by my computer, and I read it at least a dozen times a day for inspiration! (Photo via Warner Bros./Getty)

B+C: What鈥檚 your latest Twitter obsession?

MM: I love Elise Foley, @elisefoley, on Twitter. She is both hilariously irreverent and incredibly informative about immigration issues, which I care about deeply.

B+C: Can you name a book that you think deserves a little more love and recognition?

I just finished a beautiful historical YA novel by Ashley Hope Perez called Out of Darkness. I think it deserves more attention. And Isabel Quintero鈥檚 Gabi, A Girl in Piecesdid receive critical acclaim (winning the 2015 Morris Award), but I know many people who haven鈥檛 read it. In my humble opinion, everyone should!

B+C: What鈥檚 next on your to-read pile?

MM: I always have a sizable pile, and I plow through it quickly. Next up: American Street聽by Ibi Zoboi.

B+C: What advice do you have for aspiring creative ladies?

MM: Don鈥檛 wait for the perfect time, the perfect conditions. They鈥檒l never show up. Instead, come as you are to the creative process, and then dive into it 鈥 whenever and wherever you can.

Got an author you鈥檇 like to see interviewed? Tweet us @BritandCo聽and let us know!

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