With them came the unmistakable stench of death.
I want to start this blog post by saying how incredibly thrilled and grateful I am to Sarah at Titan Books who asked me if I wanted to host this Q&A with Christine Lynn Herman for my spot on the book tour for The Deck of Omens this week. After falling unfathomably in love with The Devouring Gray last year and “influencing” my bookish best mate to fall head over heels for it too (possibly even more than me!), I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the final chapters of this incredible story and dive into Four Paths once more. More of a review will come later. I wanted to dig deep and ask Christine so many questions about her beautiful story; I stuck to ten. Discovering the mind of a writer and what makes them tick in their work is a wonderful way to connect even more with the story, so I give you an exclusive Q&A with the mind behind The Devouring Gray and all things Four Paths.
YOU SAID THAT THE DECK OF OMENS WAS A “CHALLENGING AND PERSONAL” BOOK TO WRITE, IS THIS BECAUSE YOU PUT A LOT OF YOURSELF/SOME PERSONAL EXPERIENCES INTO THE STORY?
Yes, definitely. Every book I write will be personal to some extent, but THE DECK OF OMENS hit particularly close to home in many ways. I’ve poured a lot of myself into this duology in a way that can be a little frightening—when you put your heart on the page, it can be scary to realize that you’re about to let that go out into the world. But I’m also proud of myself for being so honest in my work.
HOW WAS YOUR APPROACH TO WRITING THE SEQUEL DIFFERENT TO WRITING THE DEVOURING GRAY? ESPECIALLY AFTER SPENDING SO MUCH TIME IN THE CHARACTERS’ HEADS.
In some ways, it was easier to dive back into a world I knew so well after having already spent so much time there. I knew who all the characters were and what they wanted, but it also meant that I felt a lot of pressure to do right by them as I wrote the book. When writing a stand-alone or the first in a series, you can go back and smooth out character motivations, or change plot elements that don’t work. But I wrote THE DECK OF OMENS while knowing that there was an entire story in THE DEVOURING GRAY that I needed to build upon and couldn’t alter in any way. I’ve come to think of the duology as two halves of a whole more so than two separate creations—like puzzle pieces that fit together to make something bigger and more complicated. Making sure those pieces actually fit together the way I wanted them to made for a lot of work.
DID YOU ALWAYS KNOW THE ENDING OF THE STORY, OR DID IT GROW AND CHANGE AS YOU WROTE?
I’m the kind of writer who loves endings. They’re lots of fun for me—and they’re often the piece of a manuscript that needs the least revision. When I get things to click into place, they stay that way. In that vein, I always knew some pieces of how THE DECK OF OMENS would conclude, but others evolved alongside the book. Certain characters’ paths have been clear to me for a long time, but others genuinely surprised me, and I’m happy with where everyone ended up.
WAS NOVA THE INSPIRATION FOR ORPHEUS?
I’m a lifelong cat lover, so Orpheus is actually based on my childhood kitty ☺. He was a disdainful creature who liked to watch me play piano and wandered around in the woods a lot, so… it felt natural to stick him in this book.
IF YOU HAD TO CHOOSE A THE DEVOURING GRAY CHARACTER TO DESCRIBE YOU, WHICH WOULD YOU PICK? & WHICH TDG CHARACTER DO YOU RELATE TO THE MOST?
When I started writing TDG, I would have said I was the most like Violet. Now I think I’m the most like Isaac. As far as which one I relate to the most—I relate to all of them in different ways. It’s honestly hard for me to pick a front-runner from the five protagonists when there’s so much of me in each of them.
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE CONCEPT OF THE BEAST AND DO YOU THINK HIS CHARACTER IS AS CRUCIAL AS THE FOUNDERS’ BLOODLINE?
The Beast came with the idea. I can’t really say much else without spoiling, but… yes, his character is just as crucial as the founders’ characters are.
NOW THE YOU HAVE CREATED THIS DUOLOGY, IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD CHANGE ABOUT IT? (NOT THAT YOU NEED TO!)
Nope. I’m happy with it.
OUT OF THE FOUNDERS’ CHILDREN, WHICH CHARACTER WAS YOUR FAVOURITE TO WRITE ABOUT AND WHY?
Juniper and Augusta are my favorites to write about. They’ve got their own story going on around all the kids, and it was a cool challenge to show that while never making them the focal point.
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR YOU TO CREATE CHARACTERS THAT REPRESENT THE LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY AND DO YOU THINK MORE AUTHORS SHOULD CREATE MORE CHARACTERS TO REPRESENT THE COMMUNITY? DO YOU KNOW EACH CHARACTER’S SEXUALITY BEFORE YOU START WRITING OR DOES IT COME TO YOU THE MORE YOU WRITE ABOUT THEM?
As a member of the queer community myself, it was wonderful to be able to write about my own identity on the page, so when I’m creating major characters in a story I generally know how they identify. It’s an important part of my work, and something I’m glad readers have connected with. In the last few years, YA lit has seen a massive increase in stories that discuss so many facets of the queer experience. It’s been amazing to see so many books I would have loved to read as a teenager out in the world—so yes, I definitely think it’s a market I would love to see grow more ☺.
HOW DO YOU THINK THE THE DEVOURING GRAY CHARACTERS WOULD INTERACT WITH THE DROWNING SUMMER CHARACTERS?
Ha! I think Evelyn and Mina would get along great with Harper, Violet, and May. Mina and May especially—they’d give each other clothing and makeup advice and swap wardrobe tips. The boys would all glare at one another from a distance for like two minutes, and then Justin and Nick would bro out and Isaac and Evelyn would have a deep meaningful conversation about The World and it would all be pretty chill.
Follow Christine on Twitter and Instagram @christineexists whilst she works on her new and exciting works in progress and don’t forget to follow along the rest of The Deck of Omens blog tour via @TitanBooks!
As I said, I’ll be collecting my thoughts about The Deck of Omens very soon and I can’t wait to share all the feelings with you!
Have you read the duology yet? Tell me what you think!
Love, Faye xo