Author Spotlight: Christine Lynn Herman talks The Devouring Gray
Christine Lynn Herman is on today's blog! Born in New York City but raised in Japan and Hong Kong, Christine subscribes to the firm philosophy that home is where her books are. She returned to the United States to study at the University of Rochester, where she received the Dean's Prize in fiction and an Honors English degree. Her debut YA novel, THE DEVOURING GRAY, is available now from Disney-Hyperion, with a sequel to come in 2020.
Check out the synopsis below!
After the death of her sister, seventeen-year-old Violet Saunders finds herself dragged to Four Paths, New York. Violet may be a newcomer, but she soon learns her mother isn't: They belong to one of the revered founding families of the town, where stone bells hang above every doorway and danger lurks in the depths of the woods.
Justin Hawthorne's bloodline has protected Four Paths for generations from the Gray-a lifeless dimension that imprisons a brutal monster. After Justin fails to inherit his family's powers, his mother is determined to keep this humiliation a secret. But Justin can't let go of the future he was promised and the town he swore to protect.
Ever since Harper Carlisle lost her hand to an accident that left her stranded in the Gray for days, she has vowed revenge on the person who abandoned her: Justin Hawthorne. There are ripples of dissent in Four Paths, and Harper seizes an opportunity to take down the Hawthornes and change her destiny-to what extent, even she doesn't yet know.
The Gray is growing stronger every day, and its victims are piling up. When Violet accidentally unleashes the monster, all three must band together with the other Founders to unearth the dark truths behind their families' abilities... before the Gray devours them all.
And now, here's my chat with Christine!
Hi, Christine! Welcome and congrats on The Devouring Gray. Can you tell us a little about the story and what inspired it?
Hi Megan! So happy to be here! THE DEVOURING GRAY is STRANGER THINGS meets RIVERDALE, where four teenagers must uncover their family’s dark secrets to defeat a monster lurking in the woods. It was inspired by my college years in in upstate New York, in the exact region where the book is now set.
I love the strong horror element in this book! What is one of your favorite ways to evoke fear in readers?
I’m actually a huge wimp when it comes to horror movies, but I love to explore fear in my written fiction—and for me, the core of true terror isn’t about jump scares or frightening imagery. It’s all about internal stakes and motivation. I think my favorite ways to evoke fear in readers is to get them really invested in whether the characters will be okay or not, because then, when they’re in mortal peril, people actually care.
Violet, Justin, May, Issac, and Harper are all such multi-faceted characters. Do you have any tips for writers looking to create (and juggle!) an ensemble?
Oh, goodness. I love ensemble casts, but creating and developing one was tough. My best advice is to make a character master list of everyone’s personalities/physical appearances/backstory, and also to make sure you mentally consider how every single plot beat would affect your characters in a group cast in order to figure out who has the most to gain or lose from it. That will guide you to understanding who needs POVs or doesn’t, and whose story the book really is.
How did you approach your world-building for The Devouring Gray? Was it based on atmosphere?
I’ve always been fascinated by forests. I knew this was a woods book from the beginning, and my world building came from that—I wanted it to all feel cohesive and looped in to that same theme of “something horrible going on in the forest.”
I'm a firm believer in the idea that every story teaches the writer something new, so what did writing The Devouring Gray teach you?
It taught me to forgive my teenage self for a lot of things. It helped me grieve. And it also proved to me that I could write books I was truly proud of, so I’ll forever be grateful for all of that.
What are you currently reading, or otherwise infatuated with?
I’m currently reading KINGSBANE by Claire Legrand. I’m completely obsessed.
And finally, what’s the most important lesson you’ve learned (so far) in your publishing career?
Find people you trust to vent to, be kind to yourself, and remember that one book is NOT a career—it’s just the beginning.
Many thanks go out to Christine for taking the time to tell us more about the Devouring Gray! Be to sure to add this atmospheric YA fantasy to your Goodreads list, or (better yet!) order your copy (WRITE) NOW from retail sites like Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, or request it at your library, or local independent bookstore!
And, as always,