Success Story Interview - Ryan Graudin

An Interview with Ryan Graudin (rgraudin on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Alyssa Henkin of Birch Path Literary.


QT: Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Ryan Graudin:
GODMOTHER is a YA Paranormal Romance about a Faery godmother who falls in love with the prince she's assigned to guard. I actually came across the idea from a short story anthology that I submitted a short story for. The prompt for the story was to write about fairies in an edgy fashion that would appeal to young people. The story that I came up with is now (a slightly different) version of the second chapter of my book. My coworker read the story and told me, "This isn't a story, it's a novel!"
QT: How long have you been writing?
Ryan Graudin:
For most of my life. My very first masterpiece was a series of illustrated stories that I scrawled down in my dad's half-empty tax ledger. It was entitled "The Evetchers of White Wolf." Since that wonderfully misspelled debut I've pursued writing with a passion. It was my major in both high school (I went to a fine arts school) and college. I never really considered studying anything else.
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Ryan Graudin:
I started the rough draft in March of 2010. It took about 4 months for the rough draft and then I set it aside for a month to cool. Then there was about 3 or 4 months of editing before I decided to start querying.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Ryan Graudin:
I've never really considered giving up as an option. There have definitely been very frustrating times… close calls and dead ends. I've learned to find value in the writing itself instead of the end goal of getting published.
QT: Is this your first book?
Ryan Graudin:
I wrote a lot of novellas and novels as a teen. My first fully formed "book" was a 250 page, self-published senior thesis that I did in high school. Since then I've written three more books.
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Ryan Graudin:
Quite a lot actually. As I said before, I majored in creative writing in both high school and college. That meant a lot of writing classes, workshops and critique training. Oh, and a lot of reading (and expensive printing at my school library!).
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Ryan Graudin:
I try to write everyday. While I was writing GODMOTHER I was also a kindergarten teacher in South Korea, working around 45 hours a week. I would get up before school every morning and try to write for at least an hour before the day began. Now my schedule is a bit more hodgepodge. I take any writing time that I can get.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Ryan Graudin:
I honestly don't know. I've lost track. I think the number is nearing 10 or so.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Ryan Graudin:
Yes. I had a lot of very gracious and helpful beta readers/critique partners. I think that they're necessary. It's impossible to look at your own work with an impartial eye.
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Ryan Graudin:
I write from the hip. I love the line in the movie "Inception" where Ellen Page's character talks about designing a building and how, instead of creating it yourself, you're discovering it. That's how I feel about my writing process. Like I'm simply discovering the novel instead of creating it myself.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Ryan Graudin:
I've been querying GODMOTHER since November 2010. I queried a book before that for a little over a year with no success.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Ryan Graudin:
According to QT I sent out 66 letters. Out of those I had 13 requests for partials/fulls.
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Ryan Graudin:
I had a lot of great resources, but one of the most awesome compilations of agents who work in my genre is the blog "Literary Rambles" over at Casey has spent hundreds of hours researching agents and putting together information on them. I actually found Alyssa through one of her agent spotlights.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Ryan Graudin:
Proceed slowly. The first time I queried a novel I ended up sending out about 50 queries in the first round, only to discover that the query itself wasn't that great. Test the waters with your query by sending it out to 5 or 10 agents at a time. And, of course, get the wonderful people over at the QT forums to edit your query before you even think of sending it.

Query Letter:

Dear Ms. Henkin,

For hundreds of years Emrys has been a Faery godmother to the British royal family, guarding them with a fierce, invisible loyalty. It's all routine until she's assigned to watch Richard, a partying prince with a compassionate streak. Through him she encounters something she's never felt before: love. After the prince saves her not once, but twice, Emrys decides to break the strongest of Faery taboos. She reveals herself for what she is.

When an ancient Fae with a mysterious grudge murders the king and starts preying on the rest of the monarchy, the Guard of Faery godmothers struggles to protect them. Emrys must hunt through London's dark magical side to uncover and confront the one who threatens her love's life.

But Emrys also faces a choice. The magic of the Fae and the frailty of humans cannot mix. If she wants to be with Richard, she must give up her magic. She must choose mortality and with it, death.

GODMOTHER is a YA paranormal romance, complete at 72,000 words. It will appeal to fans of Maggie Stiefvater's SHIVER and Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl's BEAUTIFUL CREATURES.

My work has been published in issue 2.3 of Relief: A Quarterly Christian Expression and the Elements of Horror Anthology. I also served as an editorial intern for issue 76 of Crazyhorse Literary Journal.

I am prepared to send the complete manuscript upon request. Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.


Ryan Graudin