1. I was a competitive synchronized swimmer as a teenager. I belonged to the only synchronized swimming team in South Carolina and we would travel out of state to Georgia, Florida and Virginia for competitions. We made our own costumes (with LOTS of sequins) and wore tons of waterproof makeup for our routines. It took at least 5 thorough washes to get all of the Knox gelatin out of our hair.
2. My part time job in college was as a waitress at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. I had to memorize trivia games about the movie to ask every table I served. My younger brother worked at the same restaurant and had to wear a full sized “Shrimp Louie” costume while hula-hooping on the sidewalk.
3. If I get my hands on a box of Cheddar Jack Cheez Its, I will inhale it.
4. At five years old I was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson White Syndrome. A condition where an abnormal electrical pathway develops in a person’s heart. The problem was solved by a heart catheter, and hasn’t affected me since.
5. I had dreadlocks in college.
6. I got married at twenty-one. A lot of people thought I was too young. I regret nothing. My husband is my best friend, someone who share all of my adventures and constantly challenges me to be the best version of myself.
7. I had a lot of extra-curricular activities as an adolescent, including singing in a choir. This afforded me the opportunity to see Europe at a younger age (travels which eventually inspired ALL THAT GLOWS and ALL THAT BURNS). One of the most amazing things I got to do with them was sing for Sunday morning mass at Notre Dame in Paris. A breathtaking experience, to be sure.
8. If I could shop at only one store for the rest of my life it would be Anthropologie.
9. I occasionally moonlight as a wedding photographer to earn money to buy clothes at said store.
10. One of my most life-changing experiences (and the inspiration for my second novel THE WALLED CITY) was a trip I took to Phnom Penh, Cambodia when I was twenty years old. I was with a program called Global Urban Trek, which exposes people to third world poverty through incarnational living. I lived with a family in the slums for six weeks.
by Ryan Graudin
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