Sherrilyn Kenyon is still all smiles when she talks with her fans. This year, Sherrilyn is Dragon*Con’s Literary Guest of Honor. She took time out of her always busy schedule for a quick chat with this Daily Dragon reporter.
Daily Dragon (DD): Where do you get such amazing ideas from?
Sherrilyn Kenyon (SK): I don’t know. (laughs) There’s a little idea fairy … no. Kim can tell you, we’ll be talking on the phone. Like Bubba [a character in Kenyon’s newest book, Chronicles of Nick: Infinity] was born over a weird phone call where she was calling going “I can’t understand what they were saying” and I’m like “we need Bubba tech support.” We got a whole character [out of that conversation].
DD: Your books include such detail from so many different mythologies, legends, and religions. How much research has gone into getting all the idiosyncrasies right?
SK: A lifetime. Seriously, I started doing research on gods and stuff when I was in elementary school.
DD: Are your books born from a natural love of history or is research your life?
SK: Both. I love research. I’ve always been very fascinated by other cultures.
DD: When you started the Dark-Hunter series, it was before the vampire “craze.” Did the lull in the genre worry you, or did you take it in stride and make it your own?
SK: It kind of bothered me when [my publisher] let my contract go. (laughs) And I had to try and find a [new] publisher for four and a half years. But it was hard and you have to just hang in there.
DD: You’ve just started an off-shoot to the Dark-Hunters with Chronicles of Nick. What prompted you to tell the story of the Dark-Hunters through the eyes of a young Nick Gautier?
SK: I was always going to do that but what ended up happening is that it took a long time because it was young adult and nobody wanted to do young adult. I had made a promise to my sons when they were little that I’d write a book one day that they could read.
DD: How do you plan to pare down the violent overtones of the Dark-Hunter universe for the young adult audience?
SK: I just don’t describe it. I mean it’s zombies! It’s still pretty violent.
DD: Are you worried about maintaining the integrity of the Dark-Hunter universe since it’s so established?
SK: Not really. I think the integrity will always be there. That’s the plan anyway.
DD: Your writing style has remained basically the same, from a detail and technical/voice point of view, throughout your various series. How do you manage this?
SK: I’ve no evil plan. I just sit down and write. I think in my case it’s because the characters are so uniquely different and [the stories are always told from] the characters’ point of view.
DD: Is it difficult to separate yourself from your characters, and each of your projects from one another?
SK: No, not really, no. It’s kind of like going to visit different friends. It’s like, “Okay, today we’re going here, and then tomorrow we’re going here.”
DD: Do you ever dread finishing one book and/or moving onto the next one?
SK: I hate to say goodbye, but, then again, they last. It takes a year in between books so sometimes I’ve been like “I’m glad that’s over.” [laughs]
DD: Has there ever been a character or plot that has just stayed with you?
SK: Oh, they all do. Yeah, they all stay with me.
DD: Do you ever re-read past works and say “why did I write this that way?”?
SK: I try really hard not to. You can’t change it once it’s done. I’m a perfectionist and in my head, I see every mistake I made. You’ll say “I should’ve done this” or “I should have done that,” and you’ll think of lines you should’ve used instead [of the ones you did use].
DD: What has been the biggest surprise of being such a successful author?
SK: (long pause) I don’t know. The fact that last night [at badge pick-up] they said, “You need an ID” and I held up the program book with my face next to my name and asked if this would work or did I really need to go get my license. I mean, you’ve got to remember that I live in the same town that Miley Cyrus lived in before she moved. She went to school with my kids. I’ve got one of the guys from [the band] Matchbox 20 living down the street from me. [Singer] Sheryl Crowe lives three turns over so I don’t really rate in my town. The other day, I was in the grocery store with George Jones.
DD: Well, it keeps you grounded.
SK: Yeah, I guess.
DD: What character, if any, do you relate to the most?
SK: All. None. It’s weird, we were talking about it and there’s very little of me ever in any of the characters. They never really shared any of my interests. I relate to all of them or I wouldn’t write any of them.
DD: I’ve done a little bit of research about your early life and have found out that it wasn’t easy. Do you use your writing as a way to deal with that?
SK: I did when I was younger and now, thank you God, it’s really good. But you have scars that never go away and one little phrase can snap you back to those bad times.