Behind the Scenes with Ryan Graudin on Writing The Walled City!
Posted by Giselle • 21 Comments
The Walled City took me by complete surprise when I read and loved it a few months back, and now I’m happy to have Ryan Graudin on the blog for a look at how this book came to be! If you hadn’t heard of The Walled City yet, you can find my review here and see what it’s all about!:
The Walled City by Ryan Graudin, The Walled City, YA
Published by Little Brown BfYR on November 4th 2014
Genres: Thriller, YA
Buy on Amazon
730. That's how many days I've been trapped.
18. That's how many days I have left to find a way out.
DAI, trying to escape a haunting past, traffics drugs for the most ruthless kingpin in the Walled City. But in order to find the key to his freedom, he needs help from someone with the power to be invisible....
JIN hides under the radar, afraid the wild street gangs will discover her biggest secret: Jin passes as a boy to stay safe. Still, every chance she gets, she searches for her lost sister....
MEI YEE has been trapped in a brothel for the past two years, dreaming of getting out while watching the girls who try fail one by one. She's about to give up, when one day she sees an unexpected face at her window.....
In this innovative and adrenaline-fueled novel, they all come together in a desperate attempt to escape a lawless labyrinth before the clock runs out.
Behind the Scenes with Ryan Graudin
Inspiration. For some, the term calls to mind midnight rushes of words: pages and pages granted by some benevolent muse. I’ve never really liked the inspiration=lightning strike metaphor. Instead I like to think of it as a seed. An idea that I plant and water and cultivate, which slowly grows into something I could have hardly predicted.
Every one of my projects starts out with a handful of these seeds. Songs, pictures, lines of poetry, experiences from my travels… The inspirational seeds of THE WALLED CITY were scattered and varied. One seed was a trip I took to Phnom Penh, Cambodia in college. Another was hearing the song “Kodo-Inside the Sun Remix” by the Yoshida Brothers pop up on Pandora. A third was a piece of art called “Canal” by Luis Melo, which I found on Tumblr. The largest, and perhaps most important seed was meeting a woman named Jackie Pullinger, who worked for over twenty years in the real Kowloon Walled City, and took the time to tell me about it.
It was this last event that really spurred me to start writing what would eventually become THE WALLED CITY. Family, friends and fans are always asking me how I take raw inspiration and make into something that looks like a book. To tell you the truth, I have no clue. The author’s job is to draw something more from these ingredients, to mash together all of these things and create something new. But how?
There’s no tried-and-true instruction manual on how a book comes together. I often describe my writing process as “organic,” which is basically just a fancy term for trial and error. I write scenes and delete them. THE WALLED CITY was born out of a number of infuriatingly false starts. I wrote dozens of pages from Jin Ling’s point of view, before realizing it was simply backstory. I was almost fifty pages into the manuscript when I realized part of the story needed to be told from her sister’s point of view. At two-thirds of the way through the rough draft I realized that Dai’s POV had to be added as well, so I halted, went back and added it. This addition severely restructured the story, but also completed it.
When I see the finished project now, I appreciate how all of these false starts and back tracks contributed to shaping the novel. But when I was in the throes of drafting THE WALLED CITY, the process felt agonizing. It took well over two years to work through all of these creative tangles, and grow those tiny seeds of life-inspiration into a 424-page book.
And the most infuriating thing? This process looks completely different for each book. I never know if the initial start of my WIP is a false one. If I’ll stay with one character throughout the length of the book, or if I’ll wind up exploring other points of view. Just as the inspiration and the end results for each of my novels is different, so is the growth.
It’s for this reason that I can never really answer how my books end up as books. It’s also why I encourage young writers to try new things, don’t give up, and edit, edit, edit. You don’t have to sit around waiting for inspiration to zap you like lightning,
because if you’re persistent and stubborn enough, in the end the book that’s meant to be written is the one that will grow.
About the Author
Ryan Graudin grew up in Charleston and graduated from the College of Charleston with a degree in Creative Writing in 2009. She is the author of All That Glows and The Walled City. She resides near Charleston with her husband and wolf-dog. You can find her online at www.ryangraudin.com.
Her work is represented by Josh Adams of Adams Literary.
This post is part of the Walled City blog tour.
Click on the banner for the full tour schedule!
Thanks to Ryan Graudin and Rockstar Book Tours, you can enter to win some awesome goodies! Up for grabs:
·Grand prize pack: It includes: A finished copy of THE WALLED CITY, rice candy, a miniature lucky cat, a traditional Chinese paper cutout of a dragon, and a pamphlet from the real Walled City Park! US ONLY
·9 winners will receive: A finished copy of THE WALLED CITY. US ONLY.
Use the Rafflecopter below to enter: