Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Ry Herman?
I was born in the US, but am now a permanent Scottish resident. For most of my life, I’ve been writing and directing theatrical plays, and working a variety of odd jobs. Some of them were very odd indeed – I had one job which could best be described as typing the number five all day long. My hobbies include baking bread, playing tabletop roleplaying games, and reading as many books as humanly possible.
Your debut novel, Love Bites, is due out in July. It looks rather fun: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?
It’s a queer romcom with a supernatural twist. After a painful divorce, Chloë is struggling to leave the house. When she’s bullied into a night of dancing by her busybody aunt, she meets Angela, an astronomy Ph.D. student. Sparks fly and romance blooms. The only trouble is, Angela can only come out at night, and has sharp and deadly teeth.
There will be a sequel to it coming out in 2021; I wrote a second book because I was desperate to find out what the characters were doing a year later. Whether there are further books after that will depend on whether there turns out to be more of their story to tell.
What inspired you to write the novel? And where do you draw your inspiration from in general?
One night I went to a goth club that was holding a release party for Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, and I fell into an intense conversation with a friend of a friend. A couple of days after that, we started going out, and six years later, we were married.
When we first started dating, we discovered that we’d both had some truly terrible experiences in past relationships. It made both of us shy and tentative about starting anything new, but at the same time, that shared experience was something we bonded and connected over. That dynamic, that simultaneous push and pull, became a direct inspiration for the book.
I don’t always draw inspiration from the events of my life, but I think my own emotions are often a starting point.
How were you introduced to genre fiction?
I was introduced to genre fiction by my parents’ bookshelves; I’m a second-generation fan. They had a massive library full of golden age and new wave classics – I became a lifelong reader of Ursula K. Le Guin at a very young age – and new titles were constantly being added to it. We were members of the Science Fiction Book Club, which in the pre-internet days mailed out a pamphlet full of SFF books you could order at a discounted rate. My whole family would gather when it arrived, and we would pass it around and circle the titles we thought sounded interesting. That was our main method of discovering then-new authors like Lois McMaster Bujold, Barbara Hambly, P. C. Hodgell, and dozens of others.
How do you like being a writer and working within the publishing industry?
I love it. Being a published author is a long-held dream come true, and everyone at Jo Fletcher Books has been amazingly helpful and supportive.
That being said, the road from writing to publication was twisty, difficult, and often seemed like it would be endless. And I’m sure there’ll be a lot more work ahead to get to the next book, and the next one after that. But there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing.
Do you have any specific working, writing, researching practices?
I have a minimum amount of words that I try to write each day. Sometimes, I hit the minimum quickly and easily. Other times, it takes all day to grind them out. But either way, having a tangible, reachable goal means I can end the day feeling like I’ve made progress.
When did you realize you wanted to be an author, and what was your first foray into writing? Do you still look back on it fondly?
I decided I wanted to be a writer when I was… maybe six? But my earliest serious foray into writing was at the age of thirteen, when I wrote my first stage play. I’m not ashamed to say it was terrible. I do still have fond feelings for it, though. Everything you write teaches you something, and that was the one that taught me that if I kept putting words on the page and didn’t give up, I’d have a finished piece of writing at the end. It was a surprisingly valuable lesson.
What’s your opinion of the genre today, and where do you see your work fitting into it?
I think the genre today is more vibrant and varied than it’s ever been before. So many great authors, so many great books, so many voices being heard that often got shunted to the side in the past. As a fan of books that explore queer themes and characters, I’ve been particularly happy about the notable increase in genre books with queer content over the past five years or so. It used to be that finding an SFF book with queer characters was like diving into the ocean in hopes of finding a single, specific fish. That isn’t true anymore, and if my own book helps contribute to that change, that would be a thrilling thing for me.
Do you have any other projects in the pipeline, and what are you working on at the moment?
I do have other projects I’m working on; there’s the sequel to Love Bites, of course, and right now I’m also writing a book about the only person in a fantasy kingdom who isn’t a prophesied, chosen hero.
What are you reading at the moment (fiction, non-fiction)?
The Unspoken Name, by A. K. Larkwood. It’s genre fiction. (If you ask me at any given moment, there’s about a 75% chance that what I’m reading will be genre fiction.) And it’s great.
If you could recommend only one novel or book to someone, what would it be?
That’s a very difficult question – at least ten books immediately leapt to my mind! Today I’m going to go with Sunshine by Robin McKinley, which I consider one of the best vampire novels ever written. On a different day, though, I might give a different answer.
What’s something readers might be surprised to learn about you?
Despite the fact that I am a bookish nerd, I’ve been dong serious weightlifting training for about eight years now. It’s something that still surprises me.
What are you most looking forward to in the next twelve months?
Ry Herman’s Love Bites is due to be published by Jo Fletcher Books, on July 9th, 2020 (tomorrow).