With her new novel Death Doesn’t Bargain (hardcover, Kindle), writer Sherrilyn Kenyon is giving fans the middle chapter of a trilogy she began with Deadman Walking, and plans to end this time next year with At Death’s Door. But while she hopes you’ll enjoy reading her newest novel, in the following email interview she admits she doesn’t have time to do any reading herself.
For someone unfamiliar with this series, what is it about, what is Death Doesn’t Bargain about, and how does it connect, both narratively and chronologically, to the previous book in this series, Deadmen Walking?
Pirates. Demons. Apocalypse of Biblical proportions. You know, just another day at the beach for your average Hellchaser, especially when you throw Thorn and Savitar into the mix.
But seriously, it picks up not long after Deadmen Walking. The crew is on a quest to retrieve on of their own, Kalder Dupree, who exchanged his life for that of Cameron Jack at the end of the last adventure. Now they’re determined to get him out of the hands of the bad guys and seal the Carion Gates forever, before the darkest evil ever created escapes and reclaims the earth.
Where did you get the idea for Death Doesn’t Bargain, and how different is the finished novel from that original concept?
To hear my children tell it, little magic fairies come in during the middle of the night and write the books while I sleep. I like the way they think. Unfortunately, it, like wrestling their laundry from the hamper to the washer, isn’t so easy. But since I’m the granddaughter of a Baptist preacher, a shaman, and the daughter of a church deacon, the concept of good and evil — and a lot of magic and demons coming for our souls — is a natural part of how I was raised. I always played around with different scenarios as a kid of how the great demons of old might one day come out of bondage and rise up to take over the world — too mayn hellfire and damnation sermons — so the story is a natural culmination of all those childhood musings. And since I never preplot a novel, I merely go wherever the characters take me, I don’t worry much about original “visions.” In that aspect, I’m more like my other grandfather and each book is a vision quest unto itself. It’s why I write. I want to see where the spirits take me and what they say each journey. The book is their voice and their time in this plane. I’m merely the vessel they choose to speak through.
Death Doesn’t Bargain has been called historical fantasy. Is that how you’d describe it?
I don’t label things or people. Ever. To me labels are fences and once you start doing that to people and objects you limit them and their potential and that’s something I would never do to anyone. I don’t like to live my life in a box and I don’t want limitations put on me. I love whimsy and doing things that are unexpected. I use unconventional items for unconventional things. God bless the person who looked at a round-shaped piece of bread and said, “hey, edible bowl.” Or a cracker and said, “hey, edible plate.” We have one shot at life. Live it audaciously. Defy the odds. Therefore, I call it simply: character-driven adventure. Or I like to think of it as edge-of-your-seat fun.
Are there any writers, or specific stories, that had a big impact on Death Doesn’t Bargain, but not on any of your earlier novels?
No. I don’t really get to read other authors anymore and haven’t in a long, long time. My writing schedule doesn’t allow for a lot of free time. That’s sadly one of the things that fell to the wayside. I miss it. But there are only so many hours in a day and I’d rather spend those reading my sons’ novels and comics that they write.
What about non-literary influences, such as movies, TV shows, or video games? Are there any that had a particularly strong influence on Death Doesn’t Bargain?
While I do play games with my sons, again no. We do more war and strategy games. And I was a paid movie reviewer for many, many years. Once you do something like that for profit, it tends to take all the joy out of it. So I don’t really watch a lot of TV or movies. I wasn’t allowed to watch TV growing up and because my family was hearing impaired and deaf, we didn’t go out to the movies most of my childhood. I was in high school before I ever stepped foot into a movie theater. That’s why I was such a voracious reader growing up. I read the movies to stay current on pop culture. And TV shows, but didn’t see them.
As we discussed, Death Doesn’t Bargain is part of a series that is itself part of a larger series set in your Dark-Hunter universe. But is this series the best place for someone to start reading the Dark-Hunter books, or is there a better place to start?
It’s a great place to start. Because the timeline is different and offset from Dark-Hunter, you can jump right in with Deadman’s Crossand not feel lost at all. This trilogy is a different set of characters for the most part, though there are some familiar faces such as Thorn, Savitar, and Acheron. But they’re mostly a separate cast. The Hellchasers have their own lore and background so while it’s all part of Dark-Hunter, it’s separate enough to live on its own. Think of it like Greek and Roman mythology. Or the difference between Celtic, Irish, Arthurian, Scottish, and Welsh mythology.
If you read the entirety of all the series, you get the full picture of the massive landscape and how it all interweaves. Just as if you take a world survey class you learn how the Roman Empire spread across Europe. Or you can center yourself to just story the time of Caesar or Nero.
Speaking of this series, you’ve said the next book, the last book in this trilogy, will be called At Death’s Door. Without spoiling anything, what is that book about, how does it connect, both narratively and chronologically, to Death Doesn’t Bargain, and when will it be out?
At Death’s Door will be out next May. It picks up right where Death Doesn’t Bargain leaves off — when readers get to the end, they’ll see why — and it will complete the cycle and the current adventure of the characters. Though I do have some ideas rolling around for a possible spin-off at a later date. I never say never.
So, has there been any interest in adapting Death Doesn’t Bargain, the other books in this series, or any of the Dark-Hunter novels into a movie, TV show, or video game?
They are working on bringing the Dark-Hunter world, including the Nick Chronicles, into movies and TV soon as a franchise series. I’m hoping to have more news on that front very soon.
So who would you like to see them cast in the main roles?
I leave that for the experts who do that. While I’ve kept a great deal of consulting control because I love my fans and my worlds and feel an obligation to my readers to have that input, I wouldn’t insert my uneducated opinion over that of someone who has a lot more experience and knowledge of a subject than I do. Having worked in a variety of writing fields over the years, and mediums, I know that not everything translates verbatim, whether it’s books to graphic novels and comics, and especially not to movies. Compromises have to be made, but the integrity of the story telling and characters must be maintained. The quality especially and that is owed to the millions of dedicated fans who’ve been kind enough to stay with me all these decades. I love and respect them too much to see them unkindly hurt by anything less than the best we can do. So to me, we’re all a team and we’re working together to make the best adaptation we can for everyone.
Finally, if someone enjoys Death Doesn’t Bargain and they’re looking for something to read while waiting for At Death’s Door to come out, what book of someone else’s would you recommend they check out?
Elicia Hyder is always a most excellent source. Her Lights Out Lucy is hilarious. She’s a great go-to read.