Wolf By Wolf
Wolf By Wolf # 1
Author: Ryan Graudin
Release Date: October 20th 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Code Name Verity meets Inglourious Basterds in this fast-paced novel from the author of The Walled City.
The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule the world. To commemorate their Great Victory over Britain and Russia, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor's ball.
Yael, who escaped from a death camp, has one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year's only female victor, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin's brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael's every move. But as Yael begins to get closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?
My mantra as an artist is that my job is to show the world as it is and the world as it should be. Sex trafficking and genocide both happen in our world, but they shouldn’t. In my author’s note at the back of WOLF BY WOLF I mention that one of my goals in writing his book is to “impart a deeper understanding of what humanity is capable of. Both the good and the evil.”
As for the specifics of WOLF BY WOLF, I’ve always been drawn to the history and stories behind Nazi Germany and I’m incredibly fascinated by the sub-genre of alternate history. When I started brainstorming WbW, there were 0 other alt-history WW2 YA novels. Caroline Richmond’s THE ONLY THING TO FEAR has come out since, but the pool of that sub-genre is still incredibly small. The motorcycle aspect of the book actually came to me after I watched the “Long Way Round” a mini-series in which Ewan McGregor and his friend Charley Boorman do a long distance motorcycle trip from London to New York. They faced so many challenges and it was such an interesting idea that I knew I had to ingratiate it into a book somehow.
What kind of research did you have to do for the story? All kinds. There’s the obvious book research: in order to do alternate history well you have to know the true history better than well. I’ve always been interested in the WW2 era. I grew up reading any book I could find on the war and all of the atrocities surrounding it, especially the goings-on in Nazi Germany. When I realized I was going to be writing a project on it, I went back and reread a lot of books, including tomes like The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer.
Some less traditional forms of research, when my husband found out I was going to be writing about a cross-continental motorcycle race, he took me on a surprise dirt-biking date! It was one of my first times driving a bike, and I got bruised so badly from falling. It’s verdammt hard. I also happen to be friends with the people who run the website http://candrsenal.com/ . They’re collectors and experts on WW2 firearms, and when they found out I was writing Wolf By Wolf they took me to the shooting range and let me fire the weapons I was going to write about: the Walther P38, the Luger and the Karabiner 98K.
The Walled City and Wolf by Wolf are both dark. What do you aim to teach your readers through your books? How do you balance this? It’s interesting because I never set out to “teach” something through my stories. If you start the novel-writing process with a didactic agenda, then that agenda will overpower the story you wish to tell and pull readers out of the narrative. It’s only after I craft a few drafts that I realize what themes really braid the heart of the work together. In THE WALLED CITY it was learning to trust others, especially after you’ve been injured by someone. In WOLF BY WOLF, the theme that really started to jump out at me was identity. What makes a person who they are? How is that conveyed outwardly to others? How do these things relate to racism and prejudice?
I know you love Doctor Who, I mean who doesn't love the Doctor? Can you tell us your reactions to Let's Kill Hitler episode? I loved that episode! I actually think I was in the middle of writing Wolf By Wolf at the time, so I was doubly interested in the way the show handled it. I thought it was interesting that they went a more slapstick route with it, though in the end the episode was less about killing Hitler and more about a big character reveal. I do wonder if the show will ever go back and explore the subject again. It’s so rife with moral implications!
I know this is a hard question but do you have a favorite Doctor Who episode? And who is your favorite companion? Oh, there are so many good ones to choose from! (As you well know.) I think the episode that has stuck with me the most, strangely enough, is the two-part from series two: “The Impossible Planet” and “The Satan Pit.” I have no idea why they’re my favorites, but for me that story is kind of staple. I actually have the song “The Impossible Planet” on my Wolf By Wolf writing playlist. As for my favorite companion… I’m going to have to say Amy. I love her “I-can-do-anything” attitude, and I LOVE that she and Rory still travel on the TARDIS after they get hitched. Her wardrobe is also pretty rocking, I bought a pair of Dr. Martens after watching Amy’s seasons.
In less than 140 words, how would you promote Wolf by Wolf on twitter? INGLORIOUS BASTERDS meets X-MEN in a cross-continental motorcycle race. Let’s kill Hitler on wheels.
ONE WEEK TO WOLF BY WOLF!!!
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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.