Message From The Author

Author's Message

The Year of Acheron

Sherrilyn Kenyon Ushers in Ash

By Elissa Petruzzi

Sherrilyn Kenyon fans, rejoice! This is the year of Acheron!
Don't know what I'm talking about? Then you must not be among the legions of fans who have been clamoring for Ash's chapter in Kenyon's wildly popular, bestselling Dark-Hunter series. But fear not, the story of the hero and protector of the Dark-Hunters isn't appearing until August -- Kenyon was working on finishing up the manuscript when she spoke to RT -- so newcomers will have time to catch up. Fans, meanwhile, have this month's release, Dream Chaser (St. Martin's), which includes an excerpt from the upcoming Acheron, to enjoy as they wait to find out what happens to Ash, and just who his lady love is.

Long wait or no, Kenyon's many fans aren't afraid to show their devotion in the meantime. One of the first times Kenyon became aware of just how much her fans loved her Dark-Hunter series was at a booksigning.

"A bookseller said, 'I've got something to show you!' And she starts undoing her pants!" the author recounts. "And I said, 'Honey, I've seen it, I've got that myself!' God love her, she exposed her cheek to me and there was the Dark-Hunter brand!"

Other fans have had the brand tattooed on their bodies, sometimes with a supplement. "I've had a couple of people who will have me sign their arm and then they get a tattoo of it, under Ash's symbol or the Dark-Hunter symbol. It's very cool," she says.

Kenyon loves interacting with her fans, some of whom have formed an active fan club where they refer to themselves as Kenyon Minions, and to Kenyon as A.G. -- Author Goddess.

But the goddess doesn't let the accolades go to her head. "God love anybody who's willing to spend a dime on anything I wrote. I owe them and I wouldn't be here without them," she says. "Second to my family, they're the most important things in my life."

She rewards her fans' adoration with frequent visits to her message board and MySpace page, and with lots of public appearances.

But there's one thing Kenyon won't budge on, begging fans be damned: She's not giving away any spoilers, Year of Acheron or no.

"That's the hardest thing for me with the fans," Kenyon says of her readers who really, really want to know what's going to happen to Ash. Though she struggles with keeping her mouth shut, she reports, "I've told them nothing. I've been really good."

Kenyon has been waiting a long time to write Ash's story, which was originally going to be the first in the series, until the author realized that she needed to lay a significant amount of backstory before getting to the really meaty part.

That's not to say the Dark-Hunter series will finish with Ash. Kenyon jokes that she has plans to keep writing the books, " 'Till infinity and beyond!' " Though she says she knows what happens at the end, she's having too much fun writing it to end it yet.

Kenyon's also keeping herself and her fans busy with Dream Chaser, which is Xypher's story, as well as The Dark-Hunter Companion (St. Martin's) a compilation of information on everything one needs to know about the series. "It's a bible of the universe," she says. "It provides an insider view into the Dark-Hunter, Were-Hunter, Dream-Hunter universes."

In addition, Kenyon's Lords of Avalon series, which she writes under the pen name Kinley MacGregor, has been transformed into comic book format. The first chapter begins winging its way into stores this month, courtesy of Marvel. The comic's creation is actually a return to Kenyon's roots, even as today she enjoys manga such as Trinity Blood, Bleach and Black Cat.

"The first thing I ever wrote was a comic strip. There was a vampire and a demon who didn't die at the end. I was always tired of them always dying," she laughs, "so they ate the humans and lived happily. I know, I was a little sick kid."

Now that she's making a living writing about hard-to-kill vampiric creatures, Kenyon still takes some time out for fun.

One of her favorite pastimes, which she's been pursuing since she was a teenager, is attending "cons," conventions where genre fanatics gather. Kenyon says, "Once I got old enough to drive, my friends and I would hit any con that was interesting.

"You can be yourself," she adds. "It's really weird, I feel more at home there than I do anywhere else in the world, because they're very open-minded, they don't judge you on appearance." Kenyon even throws her own convention, K-Con, which will take place this October in New Orleans in celebration of the year of Acheron.

Kenyon's convention past includes several of the Star Trek variety -- she was even in a Klingon beauty contest once -- though the author is rather shy in front of the camera.

"I always feel like the booby prize. My best friend growing up was a beauty queen. She was Miss Georgia," says Kenyon, who used to tape her friend into her bikinis before the pageants. "I never fought her for the camera."

Whether she likes the camera or not, it sometimes finds her.
Many websites picked up an image of Kenyon wearing a giant swan hat at the Romance Writers of America 2007 convention.
Lots of derision followed from folks who felt the costumed author wasn't appropriately dressed for a business event. Of the uproar, she says, "I just thought it was odd. I'm sorry." She pauses, "Actually, I'm not sorry. It's my natural clothing."

Kenyon's sister even refers to the author's closet as "The Black Hole" -- a nod to the writer's fashion color of choice.

The main drawback of her monochromatic wardrobe, Kenyon admits, is that "you can't get dressed in the dark," because everything looks the same.

One has to assume that fabulous swan hat (made by a milliner friend) certainly stands out in her closet, as must many of the costumes the author dons as con wear. Some
of her favorites include her Legend gown, an homage to the 1985 movie starring Tom Cruise.

"It's identical to the black one Mia Sara wore when she went evil in Legend," Kenyon says. Other favorite costumes include her vampire queen gown, "complete with evil leather crown" and her wedding kimono.

Some wardrobe pieces come from eBay, which Kenyon has been a fan of since the site's inception. One favorite purchase: a heraldic emblem, the coat of arms French knights "wore around their neck into battle, like a precursor to dog tags," she says.

Kenyon's so Internet-auction savvy she's even taught a class on how to eBay. And when not buying, she still picks up story ideas.

But one thing you won't find on the site is any Acheron spoilers. When asked who Ash's love interest was going to be, the author laughs. "That's a big-money eBay question."

Guess we'll have to spend the first eight months of the Year of Acheron speculating!

Working With Sherrilyn

AN EDITOR'S PERSPECTIVE

Sherrilyn Kenyon and I met over the phone for the
first time when I called to tell her that I needed her to rewrite her book. She had been previously encouraged to go in a more action-oriented direction, and she was excellent at it, but just one read and I knew that we were missing something that Sherri is fabulous at: an unforgettable romance. Now Sherri had just had her third son, and I can only imagine that this was the last thing she wanted to hear. But she simply laughed and said, "OK." And a week later I had a fabulous book on my desk that went on to become Master of Desire. Even back then, it was extremely clear that Sherri had that undeniable spark as well as an incredibly vivid imagination and an intuitive knack for knowing what readers want and then giving it to them.

She truly has raised the bar, as well as opened doors. Now she's practically her own franchise, complete with chartbusting success and an international cult following that continues to grow by leaps and bounds. To this day, I too am always riddled with excitement and anticipation about what she's going to come up with next. (She's an incredibly good secret keeper.) All I can say, is Sherrilyn is just getting started.

-- Monique Patterson

Senior Editor, St. Martin's Press

Excerpt from DREAM CHASER

Hatred is a bitter, damaging emotion. It winds itself through the blood, infecting its host and driving it forward without any reason. Its view is jaundiced and it skews even the clearest of eyesights.

Sacrifice is noble and tender. It's the action of a host who values others above himself. Sacrifice is bought through love and decency. It is truly heroic.

Vengeance is an act of violence. It allows those who have been wronged to take back some of what was lost
to them. Unlike sacrifice, it gives back to the one who practices it.

Love is deceitful and sublime. In its truest form, it brings out the best in all beings. At its worst, it's a tool used to manipulate and ruin anyone who is stupid enough to hold it.

Don't be stupid.

Sacrifice is for the weak. Hatred corrupts. Love destroys. Vengeance is the gift of the strong.

Move forward, not with hatred, not with love.

Move forward with purpose.

Take back what was stolen. Make those who laughed at your pain pay. Not with hatred, but with calm, cold rationale.

Hatred is your enemy. Vengeance is your friend. Hold it close and let it loose.

May the gods have mercy on those who have wronged me because I will have no mercy for them.

Xypher paused as he read the words he'd written on the floor of his cell in his own blood centuries ago. Dull and faded, they were a reminder to him of what had brought him to this time and place.

They were a sacred vow to himself.

Closing his eyes, he spread his hand out and the words dissolved into a mist that lifted from the floor only to reassemble down his left arm. Symbol by symbol, word by word, the characters, still blood red, cut themselves into his skin. He hissed at the burn of them engraving themselves into his flesh. That pain succored him.
It strengthened him.

Soon he would be free for one month. One month to track and to kill. The one he'd sacrificed himself for would pay and if he earned his reprieve in the process. Good. If he didn't ...

Well, the name of vengeance sometimes deserved a good sacrifice. At least this time, he'd die knowing no one was laughing at him anymore.


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