I am over the moon that I got to interview one of my favorite authors of one of my favorite books! It’s no secret that I adored The Devouring Gray and I’m so happy I was able to ask Christine some questions about the book and being a debut!
First, here’s a little more information about the book! Plus, some links for pre-ordering!
On the edge of town a beast haunts the woods, trapped in the Gray, its bonds loosening…
Uprooted from the city, Violet Saunders doesn’t have much hope of fitting in at her new school in Four Paths, a town almost buried in the woodlands of rural New York. The fact that she’s descended from one of the town’s founders doesn’t help much, either—her new neighbours treat her with distant respect, and something very like fear. When she meets Justin, May, Isaac, and Harper, all children of founder families, and sees the otherworldly destruction they can wreak, she starts to wonder if the townsfolk are right to be afraid.
When bodies start to appear in the woods, the locals become downright hostile. Can the teenagers solve the mystery of Four Paths, and their own part in it, before another calamity strikes?
Sending your book out into the world can be a nerve-wracking process. Is there a piece of advice you wish you had had before debuting?
I was lucky enough to have a strong community of writer friends before my book sold, some of whom were farther ahead of me on the path to publication, so I got a lot of great advice from them that helped me navigate the lead-up to debuting. One thing I wish I’d known beforehand, though, was how much publishing a book is an exercise in letting go. You can’t control your cover, how readers might feel about your work, what lists the book does or doesn’t make it on, subscription boxes, foreign rights, and so much more.
It’s much smarter to focus on the only thing you can control: the words on the page.
THE DEVOURING GRAY has a large cast of characters and they all have their own individual stories. How did you balance those, while also moving the overarching plot forward?
Great question! This was definitely tricky for me to do at first, since there are a lot of layers of character development and plot that I had to keep track of while writing TDG. Since I’m more of a pantser than a plotter, it felt like I was holding a giant elaborate web inside my head at all times. Ultimately, it just took a lot of specialized revisions—it was impossible to fix and balance it all at once, so instead I did different passes that focused on different plot and character elements to try and bring them all out and give them all individual attention.
What piece of this story is the most special to you and why? (i.e. a character, a scene, an overall message)
The entire story is very special to me. It comes from a really personal place on a multitude of levels, and the fact that anybody wanted to publish it and now people are actually reading it still floors me. It’s tough for me to pick one theme or character specifically that means the most to me, but I will say that a lot of Violet’s grief and processing of familial trauma makes me cry when I reread it.
I also love Harper’s final scene—without spoiling anything, it’s a character moment that was deeply satisfying to write.
Is there a certain trope/piece of dialogue/scene you wish you could have added into the book, but it just didn’t fit?
The partying scenes at the midpoint used to be quite a bit longer and more involved, and they had some of the funniest dialogue in the entire book. I’m still really sad that some of it got cut, but unfortunately it had to go for pacing purposes.
There was also an early scene between Isaac and Violet that I adored and had to cut, for similar reasons, although I’ve toyed with the idea of re-releasing it as bonus material or something because I love it so much.
THE DEVOURING GRAY has a sequel! Has your mindset changed from writing book 1 to writing book 2?
My mindset has definitely changed, because this is the first book I’ve ever written entirely under contract! Second books are notorious in publishing for being difficult, and my sequel has been no exception—it’s currently in the revision stages and I’ve got a long way to go before it will feel finished. Having so much less time than I did with the first book has been stressful, but it’s also shown me how much I learned from THE DEVOURING GRAY. I know myself, my writing style, and my preferred schedule a lot better, and I think the sequel will be a stronger book because of that.
And lastly, a fun question! Did any of you characters have different names in earlier drafts? If so, could you share some?
Honestly, everybody’s name has always been exactly the same….except for Harper’s. She was supposed to be called Cassidy at first, but I changed her name before I even started the first draft because I knew it was wrong.
And here’s some more information about Christine, with links to all her social media! (I highly recommend following. Her cat, Nova, is adorable.)
Born in New York City but raised in Japan and Hong Kong, Christine Lynn Herman subscribes to the firm philosophy that home is where her books are. She returned to the United States for college, where she traded out a subtropical climate for harsh, snowy winters and an Honors English degree at the University of Rochester. Currently, Christine and her books reside in Brooklyn, along with her partner and their extremely spoiled cat.
A huge thank you to Christine for stopping by my blog and answering some questions! It was a blast. THE DEVOURING GRAY comes out April 2, 2019!
Thank you for reading!