Welcome to #FearlessWomen! Today, we have Sherrilyn Kenyon, the bestselling author of the Deadman’s Cross series, stopping by to answer some questions we asked her about being a woman in genre fiction, writing female characters, and more.
How do the women in your life affect or support your storytelling?
I think my mother’s strength of character, integrity, and her raw grit comes through in every heroine and character I write. She was a woman of rare fortitude and courage the likes of which I have yet to meet again in another individual. I miss her every day of my life.
How do you think science fiction and fantasy can uniquely explore gender? How do you explore gender in your own works and/or worldbuilding?
I think they allow us to bend the rules of our own society to show the other side of things in a unique way, such as in Born of Silence where I was able to show a straight character forced to pretend to live as a gay man because of the rules of his own culture. Or in Born of Shadows where we have a world where men are scarce and it’s completely run by women. You can explore all the possibilities of how a world or culture might evolve without gender politics or with total equality such as on Andaria where men and women really have evolved to a rare equal partnership. It’s really fun to run the gamut of possibilities and see what happens when societies swing from one extreme to the other.
What woman in science fiction and fantasy inspired you, past or present? How?
Mary Shelley. The moment my brother told me that she was a teen when she wrote Frankenstein, I felt challenged and empowered. Though I would never have the hubris to compare myself to her greatness! The mere fact that she achieved something so incredible at such a young age just goes to show that no one should ever doubt themselves or their calling. If you see a mountain, climb it. Let nothing stop you. Whatever dream you have, go after it. She saw a monster and created an entire genre at an age and time when women had little power. What a world this would be if people ceased doubting and started trying. Let nothing ever hem you in. Be fearless in all things.
Do you approach storytelling differently as mainstream culture becomes increasingly vocal about the politics of gender?
No. I write my stories the way my characters tell me to. While I love and adore my readers, my goal as a writer is to listen to the characters and to do the best job I can to bring them to life the way they want me to. It’s their book. Their story. I want their voice to resonate on the page, not mine. I’m irrelevant to the tale. My voice and opinions should be invisible. The only thing that matters is the voice of the character and the truth as they know it. I want the the reader to be lost and in love with the character and nothing else. Above all, I want the reader to be entertained and to walk away with their heart aching for my book people and wanting more of them.
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