Author of The Deck of Omens Christine Herman talks to us about five omens that have influenced her life.

The Deck Of Omens

The Deck Of Omens

Meeting my cat.

They say the cat chooses their owner, but I didn’t realize quite how true that was until I walked into the kitten room at the New York City ASPCA and saw one cat lunging to the front of her cage, pawing at the bars and meowing. Almost every other kitten in there was asleep--they’d just been fed, and we’d been warned it was a bad time to meet a potential new feline friend. But this kitten didn’t seem to care. She scratched and yowled until her cage was opened, then launched herself promptly into my arms and started purring. Obviously, we took her home, and almost three years later she’s the undisputed ruler of our household.

Getting into Pitch Wars.

I almost shelved my debut novel. I’d sent it to literary agents, but they weren’t biting; I knew it was missing something but was lost on how to fix it. So I put it away and tried to forget about it...but I couldn’t. I decided to give it one final shot by entering a mentorship contest where a more experienced writer could choose to work with me on the book and give me editorial insight. The odds were slim--over 2500 entries for about 150 total spots--but I got in. An extra set of eyes helped me level up editorially. And now I’m here, writing this article to promote the sequel to that book.

(almost) falling out of a tree.

I don’t generally recommend going off into the wilderness by yourself, but as a child I didn’t know any better. And the forest was my backyard for several years--a preserve of knotty undergrowth and tangled oak trees that were perfect for hiding in. I did a lot of reading in trees back then, a lot of climbing, but nothing will stick with me the way that fall did. I must’ve been at least thirty feet up, I was reckless that way, when my sneaker slipped and I plummeted toward the ground. The sheer panic of tumbling down, followed by sick clarity as I caught myself (or rather a branch caught me by the waist, bruising me but not too badly) instilled in me a caution that has never gone away.

Author Christine Herman
Author Christine Herman

That one push in the right direction.

When I was a college freshman, I was determined not to study English. I had loved the subject my whole life--but it wasn’t a particularly practical degree, so I was trying to push myself in another direction even though it didn’t feel right. Even though I was so miserable that I cried almost every day. But I was required to take an English course during my first semester, and the adjunct professor saw in me what I wasn’t ready to see in myself. During a mandatory office hours appointment, she laid it out for me: that I should take one more English class next semester. Just one. Just to see what happened. One week into that class, I knew she’d been right. I was finally where I was supposed to be.

One email can change your life.

Pursuing traditional book publishing can feel lonely when you’re just starting out. For years, I kept my writing secret, but I realized after reading many blogs that I wasn’t going to get better at my craft without critique partners--writer friends who you swap creative work with. Ideally, your mutual critique helps you both grow as writers. It took me years to be brave enough to post on a forum where writers were looking for critique partners--but although I met some cool people, I didn’t really click with anyone. I’d pretty much forgotten about it all when I got an email almost 9 months later from someone who wanted to know if I was still looking for a writer friend. Responding to that email led me directly to the amazing group of critique partners I still have today, more than five years later.

The Deck of Omens (Devouring Gray) 01 by Christine Lynn Herman Published: Titan Books (UK); 21 April 2020


Tagged in