Hi Sherrilyn and thank you for agreeing to share your time with us so we can get to know a bit more about you and your wonderful books.
Q. Sherri, please start off by telling our readers how your writing career got started. When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer and how long did it take before you began to pursue this goal professionaly?
A. I literally came out of the womb with the goal to be a published writer. I was five years old telling my mother that one day I was going to be a writer. In my Brownie manual it says "When I grow up I want to be...A writer and a mother."
I wrote my first novel at age 7 and published an essay when I was in third grade in our local paper. I won my first writing award in sixth grade for the local DAR chapter. I made my first professional sale at age 14 and have written for everything from radio to television to papers and magazines. I was even a copy writer for an ad agency and worked as an editor and staff writer the entire time I was in college.
Q. Do you now write full time or do you still have a day job as some people like to refer to them?
A. I'm not sure exactly how to answer that one :) I no longer work in an office, but I do freelance web work in addition to my writing so I guess that would be a yes.
Q. Let me get this question out of the way at the start of the interview also. Why do you write under two names at present, Sherrilyn Kenyon and Kinley MacGregor?
A. I've had many pseudonyms over the years, but the reason for those two is simple. I first published futuristic and fantasy romances under Sherrilyn Kenyon. When I finally sold my historicals, I didn't want readers to think that I had left behind one subgenre for another, because I hadn't. I've always written both historicals and paranormals. This way readers know when they see Kinley MacGregor that those are definitely historicals and when they see Sherrilyn Kenyon they know to expect paranormal or otherworldy qualities in the book.
For the purpose of the rest of this interview I thought we would talk about your works as Sherrilyn Kenyon first, your works as Kinley MacGregor next and finally your views on writing in general towards the end.
Q. Fantasy Lover, which has been out for about a month now is a wonderful book. It is really different from anything else that I have read recently. I know this book took a while to get published. The journey to it becoming a book is a facinating one. Would you share with our readers the circumstances surrounding the book's beginnings and the journey it took to being published?
A. Ahh thank you ;) I'm glad you like it.
Let's see.... hmmm where to begin with this one. The road to it is a bit strange. Remember that first novel I wrote at 7? It was a horror novel with a vampire in it. Vampires have always fascinated me and so in college I started a "Hunter" series with characters who were immortal vampire slayers who had been hand selected to protect us from the evil things that stalk the night. I kept writing the stories even after I left the magazine and started writing the novels. I tried to get a publisher interested in the them, but no one would take a chance. They were rejected over and over, across the board by both romance and sf publishers.
Then, in 1995, I was undergoing a really hard time in my personal life. My father died of cancer that February. In May, my son was born 7 weeks premature and was in NICU. I died while having him and was revived and spent weeks in the hospital myself. My son finally came home, but we didn't expect him to live--he was a week old before I was even allowed to see him. Because of the hospital bills and other catastrophes, we lost everything we had. My car, our house. We sold everything we could to make ends meet. Then that fall my mother was diagnosed with cancer and had to have 4 major surgeries and I ended up pregnant again.
Because of the complications with my first pregnancy, I ended up in the hospital for almost the entire pregnancy with a lovely IV in my arm, wrist, hand, etc. My doctor would take pity on me every so often and release me, but within 48 hours I would be back in the hospital. Because of my mother's condition, there was no one to be with me. My husband was having to watch after our son who wasn't allowed to come visit me and there were times when both he and I were in the hospital together and I wanted my husband with our son. I knew he needed Daddy more than I did and if I couldn't be with him, I wanted his father there.
The only thing that kept me sane during all this were my vampire slayers. I would lay there hour after hour and "check in" on them to see what they were up to. I remember Julian staying with me the most. He was an oracle to the Dark-Hunters. I met Grace and the two of them really helped me. I started writing their story on one of my hubby's legal pads and whenever I could get home, I would type the pages while he napped. The original name for the book was Saving Grace because that's exactly what it was to me. It really saved me during that time and gave me something good to focus on.
It wasn't until 1996 (after I had my second child) that I was able to submit Fantasy Lover (Saving Grace) to publishers. Again, it was turned down by everyone in New York. Still, I believed in it and in the Dark-Hunters and I refused to just "trunk" the book. At that time, I was going through a major slump all the way around. I had sold my last book, Daemon's Angel, in 1994 and hadn't sold anything since. I'd had 6 really successful books in a row and for some reason I still don't know, no one was interested in anything I had to offer.
But I refused to not try. I kept submitting and kept getting rejected. Then in 1998, things finally turned around. I had heard that my ex-agent had been hired by Harper. For three weeks I debated on whether or not she wanted anything to do with me (self-confidence isn't my forte). Then, I bit the bullet. I decided to hit her up with the 2 strongest things I had. One was Fantasy Lover and the Dark-Hunter series, the other was A Pirate of Her Own.
I dropped the query letter into the box, expecting nothing but a resounding 'No Thanks'. 42 hours later I got a phone call from her asking me where the heck I had been and who my agent was. I told her I didn't have an agent and we talked about my projects. She said they weren't interested in anything paranormal, but to shoot her a copy of the Pirate proposal. I did and two days after that, she offered me a three book deal. Thus Kinley MacGregor was finally born ;)
But I still wanted to see Julian in print. So while I was writing Kinley books, I was still writing DH books and submitting them out. In 1999, my editor insisted for the next contract that I get an agent. I didn't really want to, but she refused to listen to me and finally convinced me to it. My wonderful agent then took Fantasy Lover under her wing and shortly thereafter St. Martin's Press offered it and the Dark-Hunters a home.
Q. Of all your books was Fantasy Lover the hardest to find a home for and why do you think this was?
A. Because it was so different. Judging from the rejections, no one was really sure what to do with it. Publishers were kind of gun-shy of an ancient Greek Sex-Slave and how the public would greet it. And when I first started submitting it, the paranormal market had just crashed and everyone was backing off of anything not traditional.
Q. Born Of The Night and Fire And Ice are two books you have available right now as ebooks. Do you see the ebook becoming the new standard in the written word and do you feel this is a positive or negative trend of the future? Do you think ebooks will one day totally replace the more traditional books?
A. Actually, I was one of the first writers to sell to the ebook market. I sold Born of Fire to Dreams-Unlimited back in 1998. Because I am an avid techno-junkie, I eagerly embraced that market as both a reader and a writer. As for it's impact, I think it'll be like audiobooks and CD's. I don't think it will ever replace books, but there is a market for it that will only grow. I fully expect stores to one day carry ebooks and paperbacks jointly.
Q. Paradise City and Daemon's Angel are two books that you wrote for Leisure books in the mid 90's. Although both of these books contain romance, I would think that they would appeal to just as many Science Fiction and Fantasy readers. Is SF and Fantasy the market they were originally intended for or were they written as romances that had SF and Fantasy story lines?
A. Since I started out as an SF writer, I made a very conscious switch from SF to romance because I enjoyed writing romance a lot more than I enjoyed writing SF. Parts of Paradise City and Born of the Night were gleaned from a previous SF world I had created, but they were written to be romances and not SF.
Q. You have written some non fiction books as well. Two of them are Everyday Life In The Middle Ages and Writer's Complete Fantasy Reference. I am told that these are considered some of the best reference books for writers about these subjects. How did you come to write these books and where did you get the extensive background in the middle ages and fantasy from?
A. Wow, thanks :) I started my relationship with Writer's Digest books when I wrote Character-Naming Sourcebook (another extremely successful book that took forever before they ended up buying it). My editor knew at that time that I was teaching the middle ages and asked if I would be interested in writing that book for the new series they were starting. I eagerly jumped at the chance. Then when they were looking for writers for the WCFR, my name came up again and since I had been an SF/F editor for 4 years and was widely published in that genre and had done ELITMA, they asked if I would like to write for the fantasy reference as well. Again, I jumped at the chance.
Q. You have also written another non-fiction book called Character Naming Source Book. Names seem to be another great love of yours. You said at a chat I was at with you that you would never name a character "John". This fascination with unusual names has carried thorough your life right down to the naming of your children. How did you aquire such an extensive background with names and how did that lead to writing this reference book?
A. That comes from my grandfather who was a linguist. He loved to study languages and used to teach me the common links of languages and words. Not to mention I come from a family where weird names are the norm. Since I have never liked to march to the beat of a uniformed drummer, it was only natural that I pick monikers that are as unique as the people who live in my heart and in my life ;)
Back in grade school when I first started writing, I started keeping a list of names, especially any that were unusual. As I grew older, I broke them down into origins because it was easier to look them up for secondary characters and I wanted a consistent feel. Not to mention if I was writing a historical set in France, then I wanted a list of purely French names.
When Cathy Maxwell saw this (back before we were published in book length) she told me I needed to submit it, that writers would kill for it. Luckily, I listened to her ;)
Hunter-Legends, which officially started with Fantasy Lover is a whole series of books you have planned. Would you tell our readers a bit more bout this series and how it came into being? In doing so could you explain these terms Dark-Hunters, Were-Hunters and Dream-Hunters?
Hunter Legends is the umbrella that encompasses the three branches of Hunters. Each branch is part of the Pyramid of Protection that the ancient Greek gods formed to protect the human race from supernatural predators and to protect the order of the universe.
Dark-Hunters protect the night, Dream-Hunters protect the sub and unconcious, and Were-Hunters protect the outer reaches of our world. Each group is vastly different and distinct from the other. The only guarantee to the series is that each book is vastly different from the one before it. Every time you think you know something, that something will be challenged. In this series, the gloves come off and the old rules don't apply.
Be prepared to meet ancient gods, warriors, wizards, vampires and other things that have yet to be defined, all of whom are alive and well and doing battle in the modern world.
As for how they were born, they come from all the years of research and love I have for history and technology. And again it goes back to college. I had written a short story and my boss and best friend asked me if we could turn it into an ongoing series. He wanted something he could serialize to keep people buying the magazine and he loved the character Acheron. He told me to build a world without boundaries, one that wouldn't limit my imagination. One that could go on indefinitely.
The Dark-Hunters were born first and then the Dream-Hunters and Were-Hunters came on board after that.
Q. Sherri please give us the web address for this site. I am sure our readers will want to see for themselves what exciting books you have in store for them in the coming months. This is the most comprehensive site I have ever seen for a series of books. It is obvious that you have put alot of work into the site. The upcoming books look every bit as good as Fantasy Lover.
A. Ahhh thank you so much! I have put a lot of work into the sites and enjoy updating them pretty much every day.
The sites are all linked together, but here they are:
Now if we could switch to the historicals and discuss your writing as Kinley MacGregor.
Q. A Pirate Of Her Own and Master of Seduction are the first two books in what you call the Sea Wolf Series. How did you choose pirates and the high seas as your setting? What first gave you the idea to write these books?
A. As a history grad student, you're required to study three different time periods. Since I was always fascinated by ancient/classical civ, medieval and colonial, I chose those three. The idea for Pirate came to me while I was reading Howard Pyle's Pirates to my babies. Suddenly, Morgan Drake popped into my head and started telling me how he was out to save the impressed sailors from the British Navy. As soon as I could get Madaug and Cabal to nap, I started working on it. I was fascinated by Morgan's story and as I was writing his, Jack started whispering his story to me as well. The next thing I knew, I had two books and a third one that has yet to be written as well as ideas for several more.
Q. Are there plans to continue this series and if so when might we expect the next books?
A. Right now I'm working on the MacAllister series which is 5 books (6 if you count Master of Desire which I do) and a novella, so it'll be a bit before I can return to tell Kit's story and the story of Jack and Lorelei's daughter and a few Drake children too.
Q. Master Of Desire is the first book in the MacAllister Series. This book has a midevil setting and shows your comical side to it's fullest. What gave you the idea for this book and were you surprised at the comical situations that the characters found themselves in?
A. Laughing because it was another book that was with me a long time and was rejected multiple times. I seem to have that a lot. Anyway, that book came from reading a medieval short story years ago about a knight who walked naked through his enemies to prove his love for his lady-fair. It stayed with me and then in 1994, Draven started talking to me. He told me about this dreadful pact King Henry wanted him to make and how he couldn't have a noblewoman in his home. I sat down and out the proposal came.
As for being surprised by the characters, I'm always shocked which is why I write. I never know what they are going to say or do and I'm always amazed by the things they get into ;)
Q. Claiming The Highlander is set for a March release date and it continues the MacAllister series. Could you tell us a little about this story line?
A. It's about Maggie Ingen Blar who has lost several of her brothers to the blood feud the MacAllisters are having with the MacDouglases. Sick of the needless deaths, she sneaks into enemy territory to strike a bargain with the laird's wife that the women in both clans will withhold food and sex from their men until the men settle the feud.
Braden is the youngest MacAllister brother and is a devout ladies man. Lochlan knows if anyone has a chance of breaking the women's resolve and getting them back into their kitchens and beds, Braden is the man. Unfortunately, Maggie and Braden are lifelong friends and enemies, and she is onto his tricks and charm. Even so, Maggie has been secretly in love with Braden for years, but as a plain and simple woman she has never held any real delusions that he sees her as anything more than an irritation. But as they struggle to find a peaceful end to the feud, he becomes painfully aware of her as a woman, and more importantly, the only woman to tame him.
Q. Sherri, the majority of your books involve connecting stories. You do an excellent job of seeing that the books stand on there own but, are series what you first intended to write or has it just worked out that way?
A. I think a lot of that comes from my SF/F background where series are the norm. There are some such as the MacAllister and Hunter Legends that were designed to be series from the beginning, but others such as the League and Sea Wolves just kind of happened to me.
Q. Do you have a set schedule for your writing? Do you write at a certain time each day or for a certain number of hours?
A. Not really. I write whenever the muse is burning a hole in my ear or whenever I can find time.
Q. You write some steamy love scenes. I was just wondering is it harder to write the love scenes or the rest of the book and why?
A. I haven't noticed either one being harder than the other. I enjoy writing both immensely.
Q. If you could give one piece of advice to the aspiring writer what would it be?
A. Believe in yourself no matter what. Always send your stuff out and never forget why you first sat down to write. Because those people grabbed a hold of your heart and wanted someone to let the world hear them. Only you can give them their voice. No one else. You. Trust in them and trust in yourself. Don't listen to the critics and nay-sayers. Listen with your heart and plow forward, over, under and around whatever barriers are placed in front of you. Never give up, never surrender.
Q. What was the best piece of advice that you were given concerning your writing career and who gave it to you?
A. "You are living a dream by having a book in print and not everyone has the resolve to stick to it and see it through. Never lose sight of the dream." Debra Cox who wrote two fabulous books for Harper Monogram.
Q. If I were to tell you that at this point in time you could only have published one of your books in each genre which would you choose as Sherrilyn Kenyon and why?
A. Fantasy Lover because I had to fight so darn hard to get it to print and because I love it so much that it brings tears to my eyes every time I look at it on my desk.
Q. How about as Kinley MacGregor?
A. Master of Desire for the same reason.
Q. What is the main thing that you want readers to get from your books? What is it that you want them to take away with them when they finish one of your stories?
A. I want them to have a good time and to fall in love all over again. As a reader, I love the rush I get every time I discover a new hero and can be that heroine who gives him what he needs. The heroine who heals him and completes him. It was a precious gift that others gave to me and I want desperately to give that to others.
Sherri, again thank you so much for your time and sharing your views on writing with us. I look forward to many wonderful stories from you in the future and wish you much continued success.
Thank you, Barb! Please take care.