Miranda Owen: In DRAGONSWORN, Falcyn and Medea are both warriors and have both known bone-deep grief. Do you prefer writing a hero and heroine who have a lot in common, or who are opposites that are thrown together?
Sherrilyn Kenyon: Both 🙂 They each have their own challenges and are fun to write, for different reasons.
Miranda Owen: Betrayal and trust are hand-in-hand themes in many of your books. What draws to these themes?
Sherrilyn Kenyon: Both are part of life. Sadly, almost everyone goes through betrayal at some point, and it’s learning to trust again that’s so hard and yet so important. I had an extremely traumatic childhood that left me with severe trust issues, so I know exactly how hard it is to let down your guard for anyone. To make yourself vulnerable again after you’ve been hurt. But we’re not islands and people need people. That’s something my characters usually have to learn and explore for themselves. That learning to open up and trust again, even when they’re scared to.
Miranda Owen: Because Urian and Stryker are both characters in DRAGONSWORN, I can’t help but think to earlier books with those characters. Since DARK SIDE OF THE MOON, Stryker has been one of my favorite characters. Years ago, when first started the “Dark-Hunter” series, did you have things plotted out and always knew how these characters would end up – or did the characters evolve in your mind over time, and spur you to create new stories and destinies for them? Back in the days of those first few books, did you plan on there being a Medea or a Zephyra?
Sherrilyn Kenyon: You have to remember that the “early” days of the books aren’t the early days of the series. I started publishing the Dark-Hunters in the 1980’s. So, I’ve lived with these characters for over thirty years now— some of them longer since I took some of my characters from other series I’d written and published, and adapted them to my “Dark-Hunter” worlds. So yes, I knew about Medea and Phyra, but there are some developments that have happened that were unpredictable. The characters will say and do unexpected things, from time to time. Such as I had originally wanted Kyrian with Tabitha and they wouldn’t have that. They rebelled against me. Or in the short stories, I had Acheron in the role of Stryker and when I began thinking through the books in the late 1980’s, I realized Ash would serve best working against his mom instead of with her.
Miranda Owen: You populate your stories with a nice mix of heroes/heroines, villains, and antiheroes – and that is the case in DRAGONSWORN. With antiheroes on the rise due to films, TV shows and comics like SUICIDE SQUAD and THE WALKING DEAD, what is your favorite type of character to write?
Sherrilyn Kenyon: I was writing antiheroes long before the trend. I’ve always been drawn to that kind of hero. The one who blurs the lines. It’s why I started writing the League with a guild of assassins when I was eight years old. And why my first foray into vampires was at age five— the monster was the hero and he wasn’t very heroic. The heroine of my first novel when I was in second grade was about a vigilante who assassinated her brothers and most of her class at school because of what they were doing to other people.
Even at their worst, there’s a code and an honor inside them that makes them still heroic. Lines they won’t cross no matter what. Even the villains. And that is what differentiates them and what I find fascinating about each person in my books (and real life)— where those lines get drawn and why.
Miranda Owen: For readers like me, who might be fans of your books but not a fan of books about pirates, what made you start this Deadman’s Cross series? What differentiates this from other books with a pirate theme? Will each book in this series center around the same main characters with supporting characters making appearances in all the books, or will each book revolve around a different set of main characters?
Sherrilyn Kenyon: It’s not something I started, but something I returned to. I’ve been writing pirate novels and stories my entire life/career. I’m descended from some extremely notable seafarers, including the infamous pirate hunter who apprehended Anne Bonny, Calico Jack Rackham and Mary Read, and another who was killed by Blackbeard himself. And I’ve been begging to write this branch of Dark-Hunter for over twenty years. It just took this long to get a green light for the trilogy since no publisher would touch it— because it’s unlike anything that’s been done before. That’s the problem when you write things that are very different from anything else on the market (movies, books and television). You have to wear publishers down so that they’ll take a chance on it because the market for it’s unproven. It’s why it took me so long to get Dark-Hunters into novel format and The League and Nevermore . . . and Nick Chronicles. And Hellchasers, and, well pretty much everything I write.
Steeped heavily in Caribbean, West African, Celtic and Norse mythology, it’s a Hellchaser novel that features my brand of off-beat humor and a mix of characters never seen before. It blends a future Dark-Hunter (Rafael Santiago from SINS OF THE NIGHT and A HARD DAY’S NIGHT SEARCHER) with the current Dark-Huntress Janice Smith (DARK SIDE OF THE MOON, et al) and an all new cast of Hellchasers who have dubbed themselves Deadmen. It will have some old faces such as Thorn, Savitar, Menyara and Acheron who make cameos, but for the most part, the cast is new. Each one of the trilogy will focus on a separate lead character and tell one aspect of the particular challenge they have facing them as they try to close the Carian Gate that has opened and released an old enemy into the world.
Miranda Owen: As a comic book fan, I was thrilled when your Dark Hunters books were turned into manga books. What made you take the plunge into comics? What does the process of turning your books into comics involve? What are some of your favorite comic book series or characters?
Sherrilyn Kenyon: I’m a published and award-winning artist/photographer and I went to art school for sequential art and graphic design— when you grow up in the middle of eight boys on an Army base, you grow up reading comics. Not to mention, my older brother taught me to read with Spider-Man. Thank you, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko! I originally pitched my own versions of the Dark-Hunters comics and graphic novels to Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Apple and IDW (among a few others) back in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, but sadly they all passed. So, getting the Dark-Hunters back into that format was something I actively pursued from the get-go. Yet it wasn’t until I teamed up with the Dabel Brothers that everything fell into place.
The biggest challenge we have is that they are old school, Golden Age comic style fans and I’m a bishonen manga girl. While I do appreciate American style comics and grew up with them (Spidey and Batman have always been my personal faves), it’s anime and manga that won my heart the first day I saw Speed Racer and Robotech. I love the fluidity of the style. So, meshing our two tastes sometimes requires a lot of back and forth until we’re both happy with the compromise.
Miranda Owen: I love comic book crossovers. If you had no constraints (publisher conflicts, timing, etc.), is there a series by another author that you would love to have a crossover with characters from one of your series?
Sherrilyn Kenyon: Kevin J. Anderson and I are actually working on bringing to life a couple of storylines. Hopefully, there will be more to come on that in the very near future!
Miranda Owen: When Nick Gautier and Acheron had their friendship blown to smithereens years ago, I was firmly Team Acheron and cheered whenever Zarek would bust Nick’s chops. My husband is a fan of both characters and, like the geeks we are, we occasionally debate the merits of the characters. What makes Nick Gautier such a compelling character for you that you’ve given the character his own series?
Sherrilyn Kenyon: He always had his own series. The Malachai storyline was in place as long as I’ve had the Dark-Hunters and I knew Nick’s series from the first year I started writing the short stories. The concept of his being born of good and evil has always compelled me. That wanting to do good and being called to darkness is innately the crux of every person. We are all products of the decisions we make, and pawns of fate. Both Nick and Ash explore this. But between them, Nick has a more normal upbringing, and through him, fans can see a Dark-Hunter evolve from Squire to Hunter to other. The thing I like about all the characters is that they’re human. Not one of them is perfect. They do their best, but whether it’s Ash or Nick or Styxx, or whomever, they all make mistakes and have to correct them or live with the consequences.
Miranda Owen: Is there anything you can reveal about future books for fan favorite characters like Savitar, Jaden, Apollymi, or Jared?
Sherrilyn Kenyon: Of course there is, but that would be a spoiler. And that I can’t do 🙂 What I can say is this, there is a massive whopping surprise in DRAGONSWORN about Urian and it will carry on in his book, BATTLE BORN. And you’ll learn something humongous in Intensity.
Miranda Owen: Given that you’re such a prolific author, is there anything that you haven’t tried that you’ve thought about getting into someday?
Sherrilyn Kenyon: I’ve published in every genre and format, including poetry and song, and have pioneered a number of genres and subgenres since I started publishing in 1978. So, no, not really. I do have a couple of series I’d like to return to and a couple I haven’t started yet, but I will hopefully get to them before much longer.
Miranda Owen: What are you currently working on?
Sherrilyn Kenyon: The first of the Silent Swans trilogy that I have coming out with Tor. One of the ones I’ve been wanting to do for a long time now, and was finally able to get it in the schedule. It’s my return to historical fiction and is based on my tenth great-grandmother’s tale of when she arrived in Jamestown ten years before the Mayflower reached Plymouth. She came over as a ten-year-old orphan and ended up one of the most influential and richest women in the colonies, and is responsible for a number of laws we now take for granted. Historians have dubbed her the mother of America and yet most people have never heard of her. It’s time they knew her name. THE CECILIAN SWAN is out next November.
About Sherrilyn Kenyon
#1 New York Times bestselling author, Sherrilyn Kenyon lives a life of extraordinary danger…as does any woman with three sons, a husband, a menagerie of pets and a collection of swords that all of the above have a major fixation with. But when not running interference (or dashing off to the emergency room), she’s found chained to her computer where she likes to
play with all her imaginary friends. With more than seventeen million copies of her books in print, in over thirty countries, she certainly has a lot of friends to play with too.
Kenyon is an international phenomenon and the leading pioneer of the current paranormal craze (her first paranormal novel was published in 1994—obviously when she was just a small child). She’s the author of several series including: The Dark-Hunters, The League, Brotherhood of the Sword, Lords of Avalon and the forthcoming Nevermore and Chronicles of Nick. Her Lords of Avalon novels have been adapted by Marvel and her Dark-Hunter novels are now manga published by St. Martins and packaged by the talented Dabel Brothers.