Sherrilyn Kenyon was the keynote speaker at the Moonlight and Magnolias Conference this weekend. She also did a Q&A with the PAN authors, board members and volunteers. I've been to conferences where Sherrilyn was speaking or signing - but never heard her speak.
I feel enlightened - and I'm not being sarcastic or snarky. I am genuinely amazed by this woman. Say what you want about her books - fan, not fan, crazy stalker fan - this woman is a phenomenon. And genuine. And funny. And hard-working. I mean seriously hard working. Ten books out next year...that would be ten. And how many of them do you want to guess will be best sellers?
At the Q&A she discussed her writing schedule - which seems to be she writes twenty hours a day -with some breaks for kids and food and video games. She sleeps about four hours a night. Her reward for finishing a book - starting the next one. And, honestly, I don't think she was being funny or cute. Or even lying.
There's no question that Sherrilyn's success is that perfect storm of timing, right book at the right time (twice) and an absolutely astonishing amount of determination and persistence. Honestly - her backstory includes homelessness and welfare and, as she said "the kind of poverty people in this country don't think exists" and this AFTER she sold six books and hit a bestseller list. If you get a chance to hear her speak - go, because her story is really amazing.
But I think the phenom part of her success comes down to serious world-building. And I mean serious. She talked about how she comes up with names for characters and it's all based in mythology and dead languages. Her books lap and overlap and swing back around in this world of hers. And she let's the readers live in it, between the covers and along the series. But I have a pretty good feeling - she lives in this world too. She knows it, because twenty hours a day - she's there.
I have kind of a weird reaction to that - I'm sort of uncomfortable with it for some reason. But I do believe - therein lies the difference. She's committed on a whole different plane than me.
There's also been some controversy about how she represents the genre and to be honest, I've agreed with the people who don't think she does us any favors. But this is what I've realized - she's not representing the genre. She doesn't want to. She's representing herself, her world and her fans. She accessible. Nerdy and willing to talk for hours to a line up of HUNDREDS of people waiting to sign her books. She might care about the genre - but she's to damn busy creating a world and writing books and making a gazillion dollars to try and represent it. Go see her talk - you won't regret it.