Grigory Ryzhakov grew up in the Siberian Far East, bathing in the icy waters of Seas of Okhotsk and Japan and playing hide-and-seek in the snowdrifts that carpeted his native Isle of Sakhalin.
He later travelled thousands of miles to the vibrant London, on the way collecting an MSc degree in biochemistry at Moscow State and PhD in molecular biology at Cambridge University. He had previously worked for Imperial College London and for now he is academically sheltered by Oxford University, where he investigates inflammatory diseases.
In his spare time, when not tortured by unexplainable experimental results in the lab, he likes writing fiction and composing music. He has a singer-songwriter alias – Grisha McArrow.
‘Usher Syndrome’ was his first published story, also adapted for the stage and performed at London’s Barons Court Theatre in 2010.
What inspires you to write?
I’m generally inspired by thoughts about the world we live in, about its future, about its state and reasons it got there, which is normal for someone who grew up reading books of Russian Masters – Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Saltykov-Tshchedrin. Yet, unlike my great predecessors, I’m a big optimist. Also, being a scientist, I’m totally inspired by nature.
To me books are not just entertainment or the art for few chosen, it is a way to communicate and help to draw attention to the world’s problems, also to me make readers think and make them happier too. That’s why my stories are a mix of science, humor and serious thoughts.
Tell us about your writing process.
I began as a pantser but now I’m more of an outliner. I like writing on my iPad: first I come up with general ideas about my story, then characters, then I write a synopsis around ten pages with rough sketches of scenes in it. Then I write a first draft and insert individual scenes in the app called Index Card. So I can shuffle and modify scenes later. I’m very slow, I tend to write in 2-3 hour batches, sometimes I go on for 5-6 hours, but I rarely produce more than a couple of scenes a day. I like listening to music just before writing to get into the mood.
When the first draft is ready, I transfer it to the computer and start rewriting and revising it in MS Word. I’m thinking of trying Scrivener next. My writing methods are constantly changing, that’s for sure.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I never talk to my characters. I’m either one of the characters and I’m just ‘acting’ on the go, without thinking about it, and write it down. Or I’m a narrator and I just observe what happens in the scene. I prefer being a sneaky narrator. Ha ha.
What advice would you give other writers?
Aspire to be great, to win a Nobel Prize in Literature. The industry has enough mediocrity already. Be outstanding.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I decided to self-publish my books because I want to be in control of my writing and publishing process. I prefer to collaborate with people – cover artists, editors. It’s fun to be an indie author. Being a scientist, I have to publish things academically, which means following many rules. With my music and writing, I chose to be free to do what I want.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think the publishing environment will keep surprising us. Books will become more ‘transmedial’ or ‘enhanced’. Everybody will be creator. Digital will dominate, and the print will become more of a luxury. And my books will be in the curriculum. Ha ha. There will be no curriculum.
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
science fiction, thriller, adventure, romantic comedy
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print