Welcome back to Fantasy Firsts. Today we are sharing an interview with Sherrilyn Kenyon, author of the forthcoming historical fantasy Deadmen Walking—available May 9th. Preorder your copy now to receive a special print signed by Sherrilyn Kenyon! You can sneak a peek of the first chapter here.
How is Deadmen Walking different from your other books?
All my books are different. I don’t write them to any kind of formula, nor do I pay attention to genre rules. So to that, it’s like all the others in that it’s unique unto itself, with new and fun people, in a different setting and with different obstacles. No two are ever the same, but it has my signature sarcasm and humor. The dark moments, laugh-out-loud humor, and the adventure. It explores a different set of mythology (Caribbean, Celtic and Norse) that I’ve hinted at in earlier books in more depth. So it’s completely different, but does have some familiar characters from the Dark-Hunters such as Thorn, Rafael Santiago, Janice, Savitar and Acheron.
Have you always been interested in pirates and their history? Did you do any special research?
This isn’t my first pirate novel. I’ve been writing pirate adventures since the early 1980’s and first published two pirate novels in the 1990’s, so I’ve been steeped in the lore since I was first carried onto a boat while still in diapers. My father was an avid sailor and fisherman (as were my uncles and grandparents— one uncle and several cousins were even in the Navy, and I owe my life to one of them for his daring rescue of me during a harrowing boating accident when I was a teen).
My love of the sea and the lore makes even more sense as one of my direct pirate ancestors, Jonathan Barnet, apprehended the infamous pirates Mary Read, Anne Bonny and Calico Jack Rackham. I’m actually a member of the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America through that bloodline that goes straight back in a direct descent to the royal Plantagenets of England. Yes, it’s true, I’m a direct descendant of Eleanor of Aquitaine, herself, and of Charlemagne.
My direct ancestors helped found Savannah, GA, and Jamestown and Williamsburg, VA (as well as Andover and Plymouth, MA) so we have a lot of pirates in my family tree, on both sides (one was even hanged in Williamsburg). When I was a child, my father would regale me for hours with their nefarious stories, including one family member who lost his life in an infamous run-in with Blackbeard and another who is credited with bringing the Roosevelt family to American shores—all well documented facts. With such a rich family history of sea adventurers, and my father’s flare for storytelling and love of the water and sailing, I really had no choice, but to be drawn to the sea.
Were there any real life pirates that were the inspiration behind this series?
I pay some homage to a few of the ones my father raised me on. Mr. Meers is my tenth great-grandfather who lost his life to Blackbeard while returning from England. William Death was another great-grandfather who has a shady past in our family tree. Jonathan Barnet, of course, had to be in there. Along with Rafael Santiago. There are actually a number of them who were real people in my family tree. But I leave it to the reader to try and figure out which ones.
What drew you to bring Thorn into a new series?
Nothing. Thorn was always a part of it. You can’t have a Hellchaser book without Thorn. It’s like having the Dark-Hunters without Acheron.
Which of your characters would you like to spend an evening with?
Not sure how to answer since I usually spend the evening with them. I’ve spent every evening of my entire life with the people in my head. I’ve never not had them, so I can’t really answer the question. It would be like asking me what it’s like to spend the evening with myself. I was writing or drawing stories as far back as my memory goes. I was five years old the first time I declared to my mother that I wanted to grow up and be a New York Times bestselling author. I swear, that’s a real, true story. It’s all I ever wanted, so I always spend the evening with the people in my head. They’re with me everywhere I go.
Are any of your characters based on you or people you know?
No. My characters are my characters. They are living, breathing people unto themselves. I mean, it’s like having a child so there’s some basic DNA of mine in there, but at the end of the day, they have their own thoughts and reactions that are completely opposite of my own. That’s the beauty of them. They are themselves and I am me. I love to set them lose and watch them run.
What was your hardest scene to write in Deadmen Walking?
You’ll know it when you read it. But if I say it, it’ll be a massive spoiler. There’s no way to miss it, though.
What’s more powerful – love or vengeance?
Vengeance comes from love that has been shattered, betrayed or taken. Otherwise it would be empty and there would be no motivation to drive someone to the extreme behavior vengeance requires. Therefore love has to be the more powerful in order to create a need for vengeance.
What’s your writing process like – do you have a set place to write, do you set goals for how much to get done, etc?
None. I just write. I don’t have a process. I just do it.
What’s in the future for Bane, Marcelina, and his crew?
Fight evil, have fun, fight hard, and banter hilariously. Hopefully, they’ll win!
What’s the best or funniest thing a fan has ever told you?
That she was in labor in the middle of a signing, but that she didn’t want to miss the event and wanted to know if she could cut the line to get her book signed. Of course, we all told her yes. The rest of the fans were quite understanding about it. Later, we got an email that she named her son Acheron.
What other exciting books do you have coming up?
I have a few! Nevermore which was originally sold back in 2004 is finally coming out! SMP had originally planned to bring it out before the Nick books, then backburnered it for Nick. But the first of it will be out this summer. It’s about a plague that sweeps across the world and mutates humanity, giving us some rather interesting abilities (including magic). Mankind has moved underground and it’s a whole new ballgame! I had the old CryNevermore.com site up for a few years 2005-2009 and we’ll be bringing it back when we launch the new site in a few weeks!
And of course Silent Swans! The first book of it will be next year. It’s my return to a historical trilogy that focuses on three women in history whose names should be as well known as Washington, Jefferson and Adams, as those men wouldn’t have existed had these women not birthed their mothers and fathers. These are the women who came over and who shaped our laws—two of the women in book three actually fought a major legal battle both here in America and in England before the king, himself. Yet only die-hard historians know who they are, and even they rarely mention them. It’s time for that to change. These are women whose courage and bravery need to be brought to light. They’re not unknown, they just haven’t been given their voices yet. They lived in fascinating times and survived unbelievable, harrowing adventures that actually happened. They single-handedly changed our laws and helped to shape the very foundations of America. Reign, The Tudors and Downtown Abbey had nothing on them! This is real drama! And it was in our back yard!
Then on Dark-Hunter front, we have Urian’s book coming up! You definitely don’t want to miss Dragonsworn this August as it sets the stage for his Battle Born next year. I don’t want to give spoilers, but yeah . . . it’s a doozie!
For League fun, we have Ryn’s book where you learn a lot about his relationship with Darling and a lot more about Drake and Nero (Nero’s book will follow after Born in Trouble).
Oh, and I almost forgot! This Christmas, don’t miss the Dark-Hunter ABC book! It’s adorable! For all those younger readers and to go with the League and Dark-Hunter coloring books and all the parents who’ve been asking for it for their little readers who’ve been enamored with the YA and manga/comics. Post Hill Press will have the DH ABC on the shelves this Christmas! I can’t wait!
And yes, the Acheron comics are still shipping. The graphic novel should be out later this year. It will have all four issues of the comic combined into one volume. And the latest Dark-Hunter coloring book is hitting the shelves right now. I believe it’s the fifth or sixth coloring book and it’s all new art. The League coloring book will be coming out right behind it! So there are lots of new releases for fans to look forward to!
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