In the following email interview, writer Sherrilyn Kenyon discusses her new novel Stygian (hardcover, Kindle), the latest installment in her Dark-Hunter series, as well as her upcoming novel The Fiery Swan, the first installment of an unconnected trilogy called Silent Swan.
For those unfamiliar with the Dark-Hunter series, what is it about, what is Stygian about, and how does Stygian connect to rest of the Dark-Hunter series?
The Dark-Hunters are a band of warriors who protect mankind from the evil out to end us. Stygian is about Urian, who was once the son of the leader of the worst band of demons sworn to end the Dark-Hunters. After his father cut his throat, Urian was saved by the Dark-Hunter leader, Acheron, and has been working with them ever since. In this book, we go back in time to see how Urian’s race first was cursed and watch as Urian moves from bad to good and becomes humanity’s predator to one of its greatest champions.
Where did you get the idea for Stygian and how different is the finished novel from what you original envisioned?
I’ve had the idea for Urian’s book for a long time, but had to wait for several other things to happen in the series before it could be told.
As for how it turned out, I never “envision” a book. I simply let the characters tell their tale and follow along on their journey.
Are there any writers or specific stories that you feel had a big impact on Stygian but not on any of the previous Dark-Hunter books?
Never. I don’t like to follow along the paths of others. I’ve always been that person who marches to my own tune and who refused to color within the lines.
How about such non-literary influences as movies, TV shows, or video games; did any of them have a big influence on Stygian?
Again, no. I don’t watch a lot of TV or movies. And while I used to play a lot of video games when I was young, I sadly haven’t had time to do so in many years. I only hear about the latest games from my kids.
Now, in the previous interview we did about Death Doesn’t Bargain [which you can read here], you explained that it is part of your Hell-Hunters series, a subseries of the Dark-Hunterseries, and that it was a great place to start reading either the Hell-Hunter books or the Dark-Hunter ones. Is the same true for Stygian?
Absolutely. Like the books Acheron and Styxx, Stygian goes back to the very beginning of the curse and shows what it was like from the Apollite side of things. What it was like to be totally normal one minute and then damned the next. What it felt like to see everyone around you have to decide if they caved to Apollo’s curse and died on their twenty-seventh birthday or fought back to live another day, even if it meant killing someone else to do it.
Speaking of Death Doesn’t Bargain, since that book is still relatively new, let’s talk about it: What is it about and how does it connect, narratively and chronologically, to the previous books in both the Hell-Hunter series and Dark-Hunter series?
It continues the story of Deadmen Walking and picks up where it left off: with Kalder in the hands of the bad guys and the crew out to save him with Cameron leading the charge. It takes place several centuries before the “traditional”Dark-Hunternovels, during the Golden Age Of Piracy. While it revolves around mostly new characters, you do see some old faves from the series — Acheron, Savitar, Thorn, Rafael Santiago, and Janice, etc. — and learn new information about the series as a whole.
You also have a new series starting next year called Silent Swan, which will kick off with The Fiery Swan and continue with Swans Of A Feather and War Of The Swans. Please, please, please tell me this is going to be like Planet Of The Apes but with swans…
Not even. I’m returning to historical fiction with books I promised my old college professor that I would one day write. These are about prominent women in history whose voices have been lost to the whisper of time. Women who balked at tradition and who changed the course of history. They’re women who laid the foundation of our traditions and nation and yet almost no one has ever heard their names. It’s time their voices — and names — were finally known again.
So, what is the Silent Swan series about, what is The Fiery Swan about, and what else can you tell us about the series in the sense of how many books you’re planning it to be, if it’ll be ongoing or a set number of books like a trilogy, etc.?
The Fiery Swan is about Cecily, who has been called the Mother Of America. She came over during the earliest part of the founding of Jamestown as a nameless ten-year-old orphan, and by age nineteen was one of the richest landowners in what would become America. She was so audacious that she’s credited with introducing the art of flirtation to the colonies, and is the reason why engagements are announced in papers to this day. Hers was the first case for breach of promise in America. And her children went on to become the grandparents for America’s founding fathers…and mothers.
And the Silent Swan books are not, in any way, connected to the Dark-Hunterseries, correct?
No, they are not. They’re all historical based and are all about my direct great-great-grandmothers.
Why did you decide to start a whole new fictional universe?
As I said, I’ve been wanting to do these since I was in college. My professor was so impressed by the early research I did for them that she actually handed over her own doctoral bibliography to me for it, along with numerous papers she’d written, and helped me with research for them. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago while I was sitting at a table with fellow author Lianna Renne Heiber that she leaned over, took my hand and told me, “Sherri, it’s time. You have to write those books!” So I bit the bullet.
I asked earlier if any movies, TV shows, or video games were an influence on that novel. But has there been any interest in adapting Stygian into a movie, show, or game?
They are working on bringing the Dark-Hunters to the screen and that’s all I’m at liberty to say about that at the moment. Believe me, I want to say more, but sadly can’t. Sorry.
Though I do think an MMORPG would be amazing for it.
Finally, if someone enjoys Stygian, what book of someone else’s would you suggest they read while waiting for The Cecilian Swanto come out, and why that?
I would suggest any of Quincy Allen’s books.