When the world feels off-kilter and your responsibilities are piling up faster than you can chug your iced coffee, it’s tempting to wish you could hop in a time machine and add a few more hours to your day. That’s exactly what teen Farway “Far” Gaius McCarthy gets to do, only he’s using his time traveling abilities to do more than crush deadlines — he’s making history right… and maybe pulling off a heist or two along the way. Ryan Graudin’s wildly thrilling Invictus is the sci-fi novel that will keep you guessing — and page flipping — until the very last page. We caught up with Ryan Graudin and chatted creativity, favorite reads, and more. Scroll on to learn more from this brilliant author!
Brit + Co: Describe your book in six words or less.
Ryan Graudin: Thieves time-traveling with a red panda.
B+C: Where/when do you do your best writing?
RM: My best writing usually bookends my dreams — first waking and late at night. Mid-afternoon is the absolute worst, when putting words on the page feels like pulling teeth. As for locations, I have a desk, but that frequently gets traded for a table at my local coffee shop or an airplane tray.
B+C: What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever done for book research?
RM: My previous series Wolf by Wolf involves a cross-continental motorcycle race through an alternate-history WWII landscape. When I pitched the idea to my husband, he surprised me with a date to a dirt-biking course, where I could experience driving a motorbike through the woods. It was terrifyingly fun. Research for those books also took me to the shooting range, where I tested out the WWII-era pistols my main character would have used.
B+C: What’s your go-to cure for when you’re stuck in a creativity rut?
RM: Exercise. I find that sometimes my creativity is hampered because I’m too close to the project I’m working on. Stepping away to go for a jog or do some yoga gives my brain a reboot when the workday gets tough. If the rut lasts for a few days instead of hours, it usually means I need to refill my creative well with stories. Reading books, watching television, listening to podcasts — enough of this and my own words start to return.
B+C: What two lady heroes do you turn to for inspiration, and why?
RM: As a young reader, I was influenced by fictional ladies who went on their own adventures despite naysayers. Èowyn from The Lord of the Rings became a role model for teenage me. She fought witch kings and heartbreak with equal determination and didn’t let her society define her. Plus, “I am no man!” is a great war cry.
Invictus is dedicated to my mom, one of the most courageous women I know. Twelve years ago she was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and while the cancer itself was treated successfully, the radiation damaged her brain cells. Life has been much harder since — her body is frail and failing, more like a 90-year-old’s than a woman of 60. Through this, she’s shown me the kind of strength only physical weakness can reveal: spiritual resilience. It is amazing, and I’m proud to be her daughter.
B+C: What’s your latest Instagram obsession?
I cannot get over the gorgeous dilapidation of @chateaugudanes — a chateau in the south of France that a family is restoring. Every one of their pictures feels like a story waiting to happen.
Another account I adore is @loki_the_wolfdog, a wolf-hybrid who goes on wildlife adventures with his owner. I also own a wolfdog, and the way his antics mirror Loki’s brings me joy.
B+C: Can you name a book that you think deserves a little more love + recognition?
The Takedown by Corrie Wang is about a girl in futuristic Brooklyn who has to find a way to take down a fake explicit video of herself that’s making the rounds on social media. It’s a smart feminist thriller — sharp and electric.
B+C: What’s next on your to-read pile?
B+C: What advice do you have for aspiring creative ladies?
RM: Onward and upward. The creative life isn’t for the faint of heart. Like Eowyn, you’re going to encounter a lot of naysayers, and sometimes the doubt can spring from within. This is natural. Instead of listening to the fear, you should chase it instead. Create until you can no longer hear those “you’ll never be able to do this” whispers. Without fail, the books that resonate the most with my readers are the ones I was the most intimidated to write, but went for anyway. You are capable of far more than you know.
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