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. The Devouring Gray is her debut YA novel, a slow creep horror that has been impressing everyone who’s read it.
STARBURST: What’s the elevator pitch for The Devouring Gray?
Christine Lynn Herman: Stranger Things meets Riverdale in Four Paths, a small town in upstate New York where four teenagers must uncover dark family secrets to save everyone they love from a monster lurking in the woods.
And how would you pitch that to someone who isn’t into ghost stories?
If you enjoy stories about twisted family legacies in contemporary fiction, you’ll enjoy them even more with some messed-up magic thrown in. The Devouring Gray has both!
How would you describe The Devouring Gray series to an elderly relative?
There’s murder. You’ll like it.
What character is the most fun to write?
Harper’s POVs, and Isaac’s one-liners.
Which character seriously needs to have word with themselves?
The entire Hawthorne family is in serious need of some introspection. Especially Augusta.
How long did it take to write?
I got the idea in December 2014, wrote the first draft in spring 2015, signed with an agent in winter 2017, and sold it that summer - so, about four years of various drafts and revisions before it was finished.
Why the supernatural?
Because magic makes everything more interesting.
What’s with the name Four Paths?
There’s a reason, I promise. You’ll have to read the book to find out.
What has been the most interesting shift in genre writing in recent years?
The rise of a new generation of women who are true power players in adult science fiction and fantasy. Charlie Jane Anders, V. E. Schwab, Nnedi Okorafor, N.K. Jemisin, Samantha Shannon, and so many more writers are doing some really groundbreaking work right now. I’m really happy about it.
Right now I’m revising the sequel to The Devouring Gray, which is quite intense and a lot of fun. It’s slated to come out in spring of 2020.
What tropes do you personally avoid the most?
I’m not a huge fan of insta-love, although I do think it’s totally realistic for two characters to be attracted to one another the first time they meet. I also despise the trope of something bad happening to a woman solely to further the character development of a man. Hard pass on that one.
Describe your dream project?
One day, I really want to write something that reads like Heathers with dark magic. I’m still trying to figure the deeper idea out, though. It’s tough to get right.If you could take one piece of art/music/movie/book/etc, and ensure it would last until the sun dies out, what would it be?
Probably Avatar: The Last Airbender - it’s an all-ages-appropriate masterclass in storytelling and character development.
If you could give the 16-year-old version of yourself any advice, what would it be? Would you listen?
I would tell her to keep writing and to stop worrying so much about what people think of her. She would listen to the writing part and completely disregard everything else.
The Devouring Gray is out now.