's ardent fans—dubbed the "Menyons"—are as vast as the extensive mythology she has created for her paranormal romance series about immortal vampire slayers. The Dark-Hunter
series, beginning in 2002 with Fantasy Lover
, now includes more than 30 books and a gargantuan cast of characters: demons, gods and goddesses, shape-shifters, and most importantly, passionate lovers. In Kenyon's latest Dark-Hunter
book, Time Untime
, a doomsday prophecy for the year 2012 hinges on the actions of a young woman, Kateri Avani, and a long-dead warrior who now plagues her dreams. Kenyon shares with Goodreads her thoughts on Cherokee legends, what characters she'll write about next, and how to make order out of chaos.
Goodreads: Have you added any special items to your personal collection of swords lately?Sherrilyn Kenyon
: Not lately. I haven't found anything that says "take me home." But I have added a new longbow, which I've been enjoying immensely. GR: Tell us a little about Kateri and the Dark-Hunter, Ren, who haunts her. How did you select this hero-and-heroine pairing from your large and growing stable of characters?SK
: Ren has been around from the beginning [of the series]. I've been wanting to put him in a book for a long time now, and with the 2012 Time Untime
approaching it was only natural that he'd be in the books, especially since he was a major character in the last Dark-Hunter
. He comes from Kituwa, which is one of the seven mother towns for the Tsalagi (Cherokee).
Kateri is modern Cherokee, and at the opening of the book is a geologist working for the University of Alabama. Because of her work on ancient Maya digs and her own background, and the fact that she's a cousin to Sunshine Runningwolf [a main character from Night Embrace
], she was a natural pairing for Ren. GR: The latest Dark-Hunter books have tapped into your Cherokee heritage. How does Cherokee mythology connect to the 2012 doomsday prophecy in Time Untime?SK
: What many don't know is that pre-Columbian Americans had a version of Atlantis all their own, and that the Tsalagi are tied to the Maya. I combined the Tsalagi version of Atlantis legends with the belief that humans are descended from the Pleiades, which plays a major part of Time Untime
. [In Greek mythology, the Pleiades, or Seven Sisters, are companions of the goddess Artemis. The bright cluster of stars visible to the naked eye within the Taurus constellation is named for these legendary nymphs.]
In Tsalagi prophecy, the Pleiades are known as the Rattlesnake constellation. During the 2012 Winter Solstice, both the Maya and Cherokee calendars will reset or end. But the Tsalagi don't believe in endings in the traditional sense. In fact, we don't say good-bye. Only that we'll meet or see each other again.
During this time, the Rattlesnake constellation will have a different appearance [in the sky]. Feathers will crown its head, and it will have glowing wings and arms and hands. It will then be known as the Feathered Serpent of Time Untime, and when it opens its eyes (at the precise moment of the solstice), the gateway crossing will open and form a path from Earth to the Milky Way—Stone Tree for the Tsalagi or Xibalba for the Maya. The old will reawaken and war once again.
Of course, all of that is a great oversimplification for the sake of brevity. There's a lot more to both the Maya and Tsalagi prophecies.GR: Readers find paranormal stories endlessly fascinating. What do you love about the genre, and how close have you come to a paranormal experience in real life?SK
: How long do you have? I was a paranormal investigator for many years and have plenty of stories to tell. Many of my friends are still working in the field, and I do lend them a hand from time to time. Plus, I had one grandfather who was a faith-healing evangelist and another who was a rainmaker and dowser. My grandmother and I used to spend hours in freshly plowed fields looking for stones and quartz to add to our collection. I grew up steeped in the paranormal, and as an adult I spent years as a paid psychic.
I suppose that's what I love about the genre. It's normality to me, and I can explore the unknown world in more details. While I adhere to the rules of my worlds, those rules give me a lot of freedom to create. I never was the kind of person to color inside the lines or march to anyone's tune. I prefer living and writing without boundaries.GR: Your characters often have troubled or abusive pasts. Goodreads member Caitx Stafford asks, "Are the fates really cruel or is that just the order of things? [As] Acheron says, 'Sometimes things have to go wrong before they go right.'"SK
: To answer that, I quote Westley
from The Princess Bride
: "Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something."
I don't come from the happiest of childhoods. Everything I read growing up, especially in nonfiction, condemned me to an excruciating adulthood. But at the core of my soul I am a fighter, and I won't be told by anyone how to live my life. I refused to be another statistic, and I promised myself as a child that if I survived to make it to adulthood, I would never, ever fall into the habits of those around me. Somehow I would be a better person.
It's a promise I've kept.
Unfortunately I'm not alone in seeing the ugly side of humanity at an early age. There are thousands of people out there who had or have it rough. Some even worse than me (which I weep over whenever I think about that). But what I want to show in my books and in my life is that you don't have to be like the miserable, angry people who hurt you. You can survive and, most of all, you can thrive. Yes, those demons will always be there, and you will hear and, worst of all, feel their cruelty long after they're gone, but you don't have to let them own your future the way they held your past. You don't have to become like them. You can pull it together, hold your head high, and be the person you want to be in spite of their vicious cruelty.
They say that there's a reason to everything. I'm not sure I believe that. It's human nature to try and make order out of chaos. The "sometimes things have to go wrong in order to go right" is my own search for understanding why cruelty takes place. I don't understand how anyone can intentionally hurt another person, never mind a child. But I want to help others find the rainbow through the storms. To know that tomorrow is another day and that sooner or later, life will get better. And so will we.GR: Goodreads Author Jae Lynne Davies asks, "As an avid reader of the Dark-Hunter series, I thoroughly enjoy the complexity of your characters, especially Artemis. Have your feelings changed toward the character as you continue the series, and do you have plans for her to eventually be redeemed?"SK
: I love all my characters, even the bad ones. I've always loved Artie, but I haven't loved everything she's done. She is complicated and has her own reasons. Like all of us, she's driven by her fears and by her past. As for a book, maybe.GR: Goodreads member Bryanna Lee asks, "How do you anticipate the Dark-Hunter TV series will affect your career as an author? If you could shine some light into how the production is progressing, it would be great."SK
: It won't change anything. I'll still be writing the books. The only difference is, I now get scripts to review. Since I'm not directly involved in the production, I have nothing new to share. The last I was told is that they plan to start filming the movie next spring.GR: Describe a typical day spent writing. Do you have any unusual writing habits?SK
: There is no such thing as a typical day. Every one is different. But when I write, I sit in my chair and listen to my characters tell me their story. It's that simple and that hard. But since so many want to know what a typical day is like for me, I thought I'd run down a basic schedule
of what I do. Please keep in mind that I seldom sleep more than five hours, and some days I don't sleep at all. Really. I have, and have always had, bad insomnia.GR: What are you reading now? SK
: Breakfast with Socrates
by Robert Rowland Smith
.GR: One last hopeful question: As you may guess, we received a lot of questions about when to expect books about Savitar and Jaden. Can you reveal any tidbits about the future of the Dark-Hunter series?SK
: The next book up is Styxx
, and there's a lot about Acheron people don't know...