Genre Chick Interview: Alethea Kontis (!)

For a change of pace, my fellow Genre Chick Janet turned the tales and did a fun little interview with *me* about Sherrilyn Kenyon and my work on The Dark-Hunter Companion.


JY: So, let’s go ahead and get the obvious questions out of the way: how long have you known Sherrilyn Kenyon?

AK: Sherri and I met in 2002, sometime between Fantasy Lover and Night Pleasures. My friend Nicole and I were huge fans of her short story Dragonswan that had appeared in the Tapestry anthology. We fell in love with it enough to look the author up online… and what do you know… she lived right around here! She used to work at Ingram Entertainment! And she was appearing at a local signing the next week!

It was a small enough event (pre-Dark-Hunter days) that Nicole and I had plenty of time to chat with her. I remember leaving the bookstore thinking, “It’s a shame she’s a rich and famous author. She’d be a great person to have as a girlfriend.” (This was well before I knew much about authors… or about being one.)

I had left her my card, but I never thought she’d actually get in touch with me… The rest is history.

JY: What’s she really like?

AK: A sister with a really great wardrobe. (grin)

I was with Sherri at a signing one time where a woman actually cried upon meeting her. Sherri held her hand and said, “Oh, no, sweetie. I’m really nobody special. My boys throw up on me just like everybody else.”

That’s what Sherri’s really like. She’s a workaholic woman like you and me, with a loving husband and three rambunctious children. She works out, has migraines, pays her bills, and puts her corsets on one lace at a time. (Did I mention her fabulous wardrobe?)

JY: How were you chosen to write The Dark-Hunter Companion?

AK: After reading the manuscript of Sieze the Night, I told Sherri that she needed an encyclopedia of all the people in her books, because I was beginning to get confused. The world was just SO complex… she’s amazing enough to keep it straight in that brain of hers, but the rest of us mortals are just not that smart.

About a year later, she called to tell me that her publisher had approved the idea of a compendium of the Dark-Hunter universe, but they didn’t want her to write it. I congratulated her and asked who they had in mind. She told me they were expecting my proposal on Monday.

JY: One of the most noticed aspects of The Dark-Hunter Companion is the voice in which its written: The Companion is written as if it were an instruction manual for the new Dark-Hunter. What inspired you to choose this voice and what was its impact on the book?

AK: If you’re familiar at all with William Goldman’s The Princess Bride (Sherri and I can pretty much quote it by heart), then you know about authors who “write in parentheses.”

If you were to transcribe the routine of a stand-up comic, most of the punchlines would be in parentheses. If you look through this interview, you’ll find more than a few of them. Notes you pass to your friends in class have lots of parentheses. E-mails have parentheses. English teachers don’t like people who write in parentheses. (My English teachers hated me.)

The Companion screamed to be written in parentheses. Quick-witted, brutally honest, smart-assed, tongue-in-cheek… it was me, but with an extra helping of jaded sarcasm. And some of the most fun writing I’ve ever done!

JY: At most recent count, the Dark-Hunter series has thirteen books and almost a dozen short stories set in an amazingly complex universe. How did you go about corralling all that information?

AK: Like any Capricorn worth her salt, I went about it systematically. I started reading the books and making notes in the front of a notebook. I read the short stories and made notes in the back of the notebook. I went online to the myriad Web sites and copied to a document every shred of information I could find. I sent my parents and friends on fact-finding missions. Then, based on my outline and that wealth of information, I had to piece it all together.

I had never written anything non-chronologically before. It was an interesting learning experience.

I also had a ton of post-its (I want to marry Arthur Fry) where I would list questions for Sherri to answer. I don’t think there were *too* many phone calls where I asked her to explain things… but I wasn’t on the receiving end of those calls. She was very patient with me, and having her at my disposal was invaluable.

JY: Did you discover anything about Dark-Hunters that you didn’t already know? Any “Aha!” moments?

AK: Of COURSE I did.
And if I told you I’d have to kill you.
And then you could turn into a Dark-Hunter and kill me in revenge… and then my patron gods would get upset and curse you further… and it’s just a downward spiral from there, really.
Best not go there.

JY: I know you make a killer baklava… where did you find those other yummy recipes?

AK: I grew up with a French mother and a Greek father. Our next-door neighbors (and very best friends) were a bunch of Cajuns. We’d have fried oyster po-boys on New Year’s Eve, and moussaka on Christmas. Our Thanksgivings were a thing of beauty.

I never EVER thought that one day I’d be diving into my recipe box as research for a book where all these cultures just happened to collide. But like my mother says, everything happens for a reason.

JY: If you were a character in the Dark-Hunter universe, which one would you be and why?

AK: Funny you should ask this question–usually it’s “Who’s your favorite Dark-Hunter?” (Vane, hands down.) But I’ve actually given this quite a bit of thought. I wouldn’t want to be a Dark-Hunter or Were-Hunter or Dream-Hunter, but immortality is certainly a fine trait. Maybe a goddess? I wouldn’t want to be a big, high-profile goddess, though. (I leave that to Sherri.)

Back when I was writing AlphaOops: The Day Z Went First, my publisher asked me if I knew the answer to the question: “Why is the alphabet in the order that it is?” I did hours of research and couldn’t come up with a reasonable answer. Is there a Goddess of the Alphabet? I could happily be the Goddess of the Alphabet. That seems fitting.

As far as men go, I think I’d like to date one of the Dolophoni–I’m a big fan of karmic justice. Especially when I’m not the one who has to mete it out.