This is a bit of a delayed post but still an event I wanted to talk about, so here we go!
The week before last, Lauren, Beth, Becky and I (plus Imi and Donna who we met up with at the event) took a trip to Liverpool to see two faves, Sarah Maria Griffin and Christine Lynn Herman. With it only being a few days since we’d got home from YALC, another book event seemed like the perfect way to deal with, well, a book event hangover.
You may ask, “but Becky, didn’t Sarah and Christine both go to YALC? Didn’t you definitely see Sarah there at least?” Well, yes, but travelling east to west across the country is the least we can do for our faves. The event ended up being quite small, which I liked, as I wasn’t sure I was actually prepared for a big, busy event after YALC.
It turns out there are quite a few correlations between Other Words For Smoke and The Devouring Gray. Both authors spoke about how place played an important role in their books – Christine saying that getting away from her home for inspiration meant she found herself writing about the place she left behind, and Sarah, again, finding that living away from home means you write more intensely about home, and noting that everything within the walls of the house in Other Words for Smoke is a reflection of something she feels about her country.
Both books also use tarot as a huge influence. In The Devouring Gray, Christine created the Deck of Omens which she says became one of the lynchpins holding the book together. Sarah commented on how she always knew OWFS would be, firstly, about a ‘suburban medium’ – something she commonly saw growing up in Ireland and which fascinated her – and how the closest connection to her experience with these women was through tarot. The cards are also only used by women in their books; The Deck of Omens being something for the women in Four Paths in a world not made for women, and Sarah seeing tarot as a rebellion after being told by men that her interest in it was stupid. Both also felt very connected to the girls in their stories – Christine saying that Harper felt as though she contained the worst parts of her but these were also the parts she loved most, and Sarah saying that Bevan’s horrific obsession was so potent to write about, and she’d love to follow her life where she goes after OWFS as ‘everyone in the book gets what they deserve’.
We know what happens when a boy gets to be a wizard – we’ve read that story.
Both authors have always known that they wanted to write, Sarah saying that she’s always known that as long as there were books, she knew she wanted to write one, and how each of her books has been more urgent than the last. She commented that Spare and Found Parts happened, whereas OWFS felt urgent, and her in progress third novel felt more urgent still. Christine has always seen herself as a storyteller, and said that when she sold the rights to her book, her family just knew that it would happen (as happy as they were for her!)
Finally, we heard a bit about both Sarah and Christine’s upcoming projects. Sarah is currently working on a book she describes as being about “table top roleplaying and emotional manipulation” as well as a project which involves a full tarot deck – I couldn’t be more excited for either of these! Both of Christine’s upcoming novels have a bit more announced about them – The Devouring Gray’s sequel, which we now know will be called The Deck of Omens, is released next year, and she also has an f/f Gatsby inspired coming of age/ghost story out in 2021 called The Drowning Summer.
I love to tell stories – I knew even before I could read that I wanted to tell stories. Writing – it’s like breathing.
Overall, I had a great evening listening to these two talk to Lydia, as well as meeting Christine and seeing Sarah again after the discussion, as well as seeing Small James (the furby Lauren, Beth and I gifted Sarah at YALC!)