I am so pleased to welcome author, Ryan Graudin, on to blog. In 2014, I reviewed Ryan's debut novel, The Walled City and absolutely loved it. I am so excited that she has a new novel out and I can't wait to read it too! Ryan is known for her amazing and extremely details settings, so she is here today to talk about her setting for Wolf By Wolf.
The year is 1956 and the Axis Powers rule the Eurafrasia tri-continent. To celebrate their victory they hold a televised cross-continental motorcycle race every year. This Axis Tour spans over 20,000 kilometers from Germania (old Berlin) to Tokyo. Yael, the main character, must use her skinshifting abilities to pose as former racer Adele Wolfe and enter the race. Her mission? Win the Axis Tour, gain an audience with the reclusive Adolf Hitler and kill him.
Due to the nature of the motorcycle race, WOLF BY WOLF has an overabundance of settings to choose from. Post-war Prague, the ruins of Rome, the sweeping deserts of northern Africa, a mountainous middle east, jungles and rice paddies…. There are far too many landscapes to feature in a single post!
But fear not, I’ve chosen one! It is the landscape from Chapter 28, when Yael and the other racers are completing the leg from Hanoi to Shanghai through what is our southeast China. A main staple of that chapter is the Li River, where the racers must complete a ferry crossing on a bamboo raft.
A large part of this chapter was inspired by a trip I took a couple of years ago. China is such a gorgeous country, with such diverse scenery, but one of the most beautiful places of our trip was Yangshuo, a town right by the Li River. Some of you might recognize its landscape from the 2006 movie The Painted Veil—its main feature is its dramatic karst mountains. Here’s how I describe it in WOLF BY WOLF:
“The sun climbed high into a clouding sky, and the landscape changed, transforming into something out of a fair tale. Dramatic, sudden mountains jutted from waterlogged fields. Like the fingers of an underground giant, hungry for sky. Hundreds of tree-capped heights and hundreds of valleys braided with rivers and mists, rice paddies and lean-tos. Ancient tombs hugged the road—less dramatic mounds of earth marked by poetic stones, overgrown with tattered offerings of money and liquor bottles.” – (WOLF BY WOLF, pg 299)
My husband and I spent several days soaking up this countryside. (I even worked on my rough draft of WOLF BY WOLF while I was there!) One of our most interesting experiences here, which later became a staple in the novel, was the ride we took on the bamboo raft. These days, a lot of them are made with PVC pipes meant to look like bamboo, but I did see a few of the genuine article. They’re incredibly buoyant, but rather narrow, which made for a perfectly precarious river-crossing scene in the book.
This is a perfect example of how traveling inspires me. If I’d never gone to Yangshuo, I never would have realized how I could incorporate the ferry crossing (which becomes rather important) into WOLF BY WOLF. Whether you’re working on a novel or not, I highly recommend visiting this relaxing town. Its beauty is unique and poignant.
I'm in awe of the places Ryan has seen. These views are stunning!
Published by Orion Children's Books in November 2015
Over ten years since the Nazis won the war, 18 yr old Yael has one mission: to kill Hitler - a captivating second novel from Walled City author, Ryan Graudin.
Once upon a different time, there was a girl who lived in a kingdom of death. Wolves howled up her arm. A whole pack of them-made of tattoo ink and pain, memory and loss. It was the only thing about her that ever stayed the same.Her story begins on a train.
Germania, 1956. Over ten years since the Nazis won the war. 18-year-old Yael is part of the resistance, and she has just one mission: to kill Hitler.
But first she's got to get close enough to him to do it.
Experimented on during her time at Auschwitz, Yael has the unique ability to change her appearance at will. The only part of her which always remains are the five tattooed wolves on her arm; one for each of the people she's lost. Using her abilities, she must transform into Adele Wolfe, Germany's most famous female rider and winner of the legendary Axis Tour; an epic long distance motorcycle race from Berlin to Tokyo, where only the strongest (and wiliest) riders survive. If she can win this, she will be able to get close enough to kill the Fuhrer and change history forever.
But with other riders sabotaging her chances at every turn, Yael's mission won't be easy. . .
To find out more about Ryan Graudin: