In a case of life imitating art, the actor plays book publisher Charles Brooks in TV Land's Younger

By Aurelie Corinthios
March 15, 2018 03:44 PM

Peter Hermann just added another accomplishment to his resume: published author.

In a case of life imitating art, the actor — who plays book publisher Charles Brooks in TV Land’s Younger — came out with his first book this week: a whimsical children’s picture book titled If the S in Moose Comes Loose.

“It came out of play, the fun of rhyming, and the idea that language is a lot of different things,” Hermann, 50, tells PEOPLE. “And one of the things that it can be is a playground. I think that’s a beautiful place to play.”

Hermann, a former high school English teacher whose first job out of college was Teach for America, says he’s known for writing down rhymes “all the time.”

“I used to write them down on pieces of paper, and then I graduated to emailing them to myself — I think there are probably a whole bunch of them deeply buried in my email, never to be seen again,” he says. “But this one, I stuck it underground, watered it a little bit and it started to sprout some branches. It all started with the rhyme of ‘moose’ and ‘loose,’ and we were off and running. The first version of it was 5,000 words, which is epic. Now I think it’s down to just around 900.”

“One of the reasons I like to rhyme is I think it’s a playful way to organize the world,” he continues. “If you put out a word, and you know that either in one line or the next line you have to rhyme with that word, you have your assignment. It creates a structure to follow — it’s like a game. And it’s a fun game to play as writer.”

Peter Hermann
| Credit: Courtesy Peter Hermann

Of course, writing a children’s book as the father of three comes with a little bit of pressure.

“I was nervous showing it to my kids,” admits Hermann, who shares sons August, 11, Andrew, 6, and daughter Amaya, 6, with his wife, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit star Mariska Hargitay.

“The first time that I actually read them the complete book, I think they could tell that I was hoping they would really like it,” he recalls. “They were like, ‘Dude, Dad, chill.’ And they love it. Now our youngest keeps asking for it, but I think that it might be because he wants to get in with me. I think it’s a slightly political move. Smart little dude!”

Peter Hermann and Mariska Hargitay
| Credit: Peter Hermann/Instagram

The proud dad says his kids can’t wait to show off the book, illustrated by Matthew Cordell, to their friends.

“They are so excited to go to their school libraries and be able to point to the book and say, ‘My dad wrote that,’ ” he says. “I just cannot wait.”

As for what he hopes children reading the book will take away from it?

“It’s interesting — as I was writing it, I called it a madcap rhyming spelling romp. I wanted it to be fun, and I don’t say that dismissively,” he says. “I wanted it to be fun, capital F, as profound as that word can be. I wanted it to bring joy and laughter and all of that. And the more that I read it, the more time I spent with it, the more I realized that it was simply a book about friendship and a book about persevering for friendship and the lengths that we will go through to put those we love back together when they come apart. And we all come apart sometimes.”

The book cover of If the S in Moose Comes Loose
| Credit: Courtesy HarperCollins

And now that he’s gotten into the swing of writing, Hermann doesn’t play on slowing down.

“I have a whole bunch of ideas,” he says. “Now that one of them has made it out of the factory, the other ones are like, ‘Wait a second! What about me? My turn!’ I’m very happy that there are more ideas, and I’m writing away.”