Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Debut Author Spotlight ... Ryan Grabow

by Ryan Grabow

If you'd told me ten years ago that I would write a novel, I'd have known you were kidding. I wasn't in college as an English major and avoided taking writing classes my degree didn't require. Regardless, there was an assignment I enjoyed: The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster. I didn't know exactly why, just that it messed with my head and defied my expectations. I had other assignments to deal with and the New York Trilogy was forgotten, but I now realize it was the first book that made me feel like writing.

I wouldn't become a bibliophile for more than five years. After a childhood full of Star Trek, Stargate, and Sliders, I would discover anime and it would expand my tastes beyond sci-fi into fantasy. As with books, it was the deeper stories which defied my expectations that held my attention. Finally came the spark that got me fully into reading: Dragons, of all things. Ads for the movie Eragon were showing everywhere and I realized that every time something dragon-related came out, my eye had been drawn to it. I prayerfully set out to understand why. The itch for writing soon returned.

Metafiction would be the bridge, taking me back from straight fantasy to the deep and mind-bending. An analysis of fiction within fictional framework. The question "why are dragon characters interesting?" set off a room full of dominoes, spreading from fantasy to spec-fic in general. The resulting favorites list was disappointingly un-Christian, however, the works lukewarm or hostile to faith. My attempt to correct this trend only seemed to draw from an empty well. It occurred to me that I found a gap the Lord was leading me to fill.

I can only give God credit here, because the malvirai-seeking-Him idea came out of the clear blue sky. The seed that would become my first novel sprouted quickly. A year after I started, the book was typed and its gaps filled in. Then began the typos and test readers. By early 2009, I was confident enough to start querying agents.

Major publishers wanted me to go through agents and the list of (reputable) agents who represent Christian sci-fi turned out to be extremely short. When their responses also ended up being short I was left wondering where else to go. I didn't want some Darwinist coming up with the idea and planting the "FIRST!" flag on it (Their author yawns. "Oh look, we have so many."). If nothing else, I knew my story was original: a black eye to those who say Christians can only rip off the ideas of others.

With the Internet and a growing number of e-book readers, I knew I could make my appeal to the readers themselves and roll a little popularity into future queries. I released Caffeine under a Creative Commons license (as far as I know, the first Christian novel under CC), which allowed the e-book to be shared by anyone as long as it was free and unaltered. As downloads zoomed into the thousands, I queried a more inclusive list: including secular agents, especially those who've handled CC-licensed work. Still no dice.

As timing would have it, I'd received an invitation to enter Marcher Lord Press's Premise Contest the week after Caffeine went up. I had submitted to them months earlier and loved the contest idea. Caffeine ended up being a finalist and Grace Bridges took notice. Here was my introduction to Splashdown Books and a community of Christian writers.

More editing. The permanence of the 2009 release imposed a few limits, but 2011's manuscript was a solid improvement on it. God has blessed this offering (from a non-writer like me) and I know He will continue to bless it. I plan to write a film treatment to see if it can get a special effects budget and make it to the big screen. Exciting times.

Work has begun on my second novel, which is independent of Caffeine. I'm not ruling out short stories or serial-type works, but for the moment my interest remains firmly in stand-alone novels.

by Ryan Grabow

Splashdown Books, November 2011

Brandon Dauphin feels like a dying ember. He’s jobless and feels worthless, and falling in love has only made his problem worse. In an authoritarian and over stimulated 22nd-century America, all he can do to relieve his pain is indulge in the computer-simulated fantasies of a network called Dynamic Reality, until a virus takes control of the simulation. Unable to return to the real world, Brandon finds that the virus shares his questions about existence, and that she will stop at nothing for her answers.

Ryan Grabow graduated from Long Island University in 2004, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Electronic Media, and currently works in television production in Fort Myers, Florida. Caffeine is his first novel, combining his Christian faith with observations on how communications technology has impacted the reality of our lives, and drawing from his experience as a webmaster, programmer, and spiritual geek as points of speculation.

Links for Caffeine:
Official page:


  1. Ryan, thank you for stopping by today & sharing your publication journey.

    I don't read a lot of spec fiction, but the concept for Caffeine sounds fascinating. I look forward to reading it.

    I pray God richly blesses your new journey.


  2. Wonderful testimony here, Ryan. Thank you for sharing your journey. Neither do I read a lot in this genre, but I agree with Brenda: your premise sounds interesting.