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Review: Sherrilyn Kenyon

14 September 13 words: Neil Fulwood
"More like your traditional boy-meets-girl narrative but with some brimstone-wreathed hellion as the impediment to their happiness."
On an overcast evening in September, demon-slaying warrior-gods descended on Waterstones Nottingham … or at least their creator did. Sherrilyn Kenyon has carved a bestselling and prolific career despite being basically unclassifiable. Take her epic ‘Dark Hunter’ series: the heroes are torn from the pages of mythology – but the novels are set in contemporary New Orleans. The villains are demons and vampires – but these aren’t horror stories, per se. More like your traditional boy-meets-girl narrative but with some brimstone-wreathed hellion as the impediment to their happiness. You know: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy defeats the forces of darkness, boy gets girl back. Oh, and Kenyon knows how to write pretty steamy love scenes, as well. But her work is more than just Fifty Shades of Ancient Greeks Getting Medieval on the Undead genre-splicing.
Sherrilyn Kenyon is irrepressibly good-natured. Her southern heritage is evident in her accent, her attitude and her laconic tough-gal sense of humour. Making time for an interview before the event, she answered my first question – how many published titles in her bibliography, factoring in pen names and collections – with a laugh: “Think of it as a poker game. Count ’em when I’m dead.” By my count it’s in the mid-forties. How many books a year does that equate to? “I try not to think about it” – again, that infectious grin. Her work ethic must be finely honed. “I write between 8pm and 6am, much to chagrin of my kids. It means they can’t sneak in and out.” Literary productivity and practical parenting: now that’s multi-tasking.
We talked about the manga offshoot of the ‘Dark Hunter’ novels, which has necessitated a certain level of education chez Kenyon as to what constitutes a kid-friendly comic book and what doesn’t. She’s already had her childrens’ teacher confiscate one of her own books. “Does your mother know you’re reading this” takes on whole new connotations. We talked about her role as co-producer on the forthcoming feature film adaptation of her young adult saga ‘Chronicles of Nick’ – not to mention ‘Dark Hunter’ as a TV series – but unfortunately my hopes of a world-shattering LeftLion exclusive were dashed. My probing her as to cast and director details were met with a rueful “I can neither confirm or deny. It’s kind of like working for the government.” Respecting her strictures under the Hollywood equivalent of the Official Secrets Act, I wondered if there would be any bowdlerisation of the books for the small screen, or has the likes of ‘True Blood’ paved the way for a suitably lusty take on the material? “I don’t think I can push the boundaries like ‘True Blood’ – I’d have to add scenes in!”
Whereas Charlene Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse series reached its conclusion after thirteen books, Kenyon’s latest ‘Dark Hunter’ title Styxxis number twenty-four in a sequence that’s showing no signs of running out of steam. With entire swathes of history and mythology informing her writing, is she ever likely to run out of characters? “I presented my publisher with forty-eight synopses at the start. I haven’t written any of them yet. I keep getting pulled towards other stories.” That’ll be a ‘no’, then. Which is good news for Kenyon’s legion of fans. Over a hundred people were in attendance – a majority female demographic, age range: the full spectrum. I was one of only half a dozen guys there but, hey, we might like hunky demi-gods with heavy armour and night-long stamina. Who’s to judge us?

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