Q&A interview with Sherrilyn Kenyon / Kinley MacGregor
Sherrilyn Kenyon interview on being a writer and dyslexic
20 December 2007
Jenny: In your biography (Wikipedia and others) we find "At seven you wrote and illustrated your first novel, you won a contest in third grade by writing an essay, at fourteen you made your first professional sale." Was it a hurdle, a big job to write it all down? Did you bother about spelling and/or grammar? Could you read your own text afterward?
Sherrilyn: Well the first book I wrote, most of the letters are backward and much of it is horribly misspelled, but it didn't stop me. Sometimes it pays to be too stubborn to listen to other people and in my case that was especially true.
Jenny: We've also learned that "as a child, you knew that you wanted to be a writer." Why a writer?
Sherrilyn: I have no idea. No one else in my family was a writer and many times in my life, I've tried to figure out why I had this calling. I truly don't know. From my earliest memory, it's what I've wanted to do.
Jenny: One would think, being dyslexic, it's hard to write words down, but obviously you are a living proof it doesn't have to be like that. Any thoughts?
Sherrilyn: It's much easier to type them than to write them. When my hubby and I were making out wills earlier this year, I was trying to jot down some notes and I was getting so frustrated that my hubby finally placed his hand over mine and said, "I'll take the notes, sweetie. Don't worry."
Jenny: Where do you think you get your inspiration from? What do you think contributes to it?
Sherrilyn Again, I have no idea. I've always had the imagination of a five-year-old. I just love creating new things and meeting new people, even if they aren't real.
Jenny: Do you consider being dyslexic an advantage, in the sense that it could contribute to your imagination? Or an advantage in any other way?
Sherrilyn: Not really. I attribute the imagination more to being left-handed. Then again, my mother said I came into the world backward and have been that way ever since. Maybe it's always been dyslexia after all LOL.
Jenny: Did you do well in school?
Sherrilyn: Some days. If the teachers were understanding, I did extremely well. If they weren't, then they didn't allow me to have the time I needed to finish something. There were times and teachers where it was extremely frustrating.
But I try to only remember the good teachers who helped me and who taught me tricks and ways to work around dyslexia.
Jenny: How and when did you (or someone else) discover your dyslexia?
Sherrilyn: First grade. My teacher realized it when I couldn't write anything correctly.
Jenny: What were your biggest disadvantages?
Sherrilyn: The fact that I have it so severely, it even manifests verbally. I get extremely embarrassed when I flub up sentences or words while speaking. And when I have to give speeches, there are times, especially when I'm tired, that I can't read and it's humiliating. I remember one teacher telling me in fourth grade that I would never be able to speak in public or hold any job where I'd have to interact with people. She basically told me the only job I'd have as an adult was a janitor (which I have been in my past-- it's not a bad job, really).
Jenny: What worked for you to overcome your dyslexia disadvantages?
Sherrilyn: Flashcards. Learning to read with minimal recognition. That and autocorrect on the computer. There are certain letter combinations that are harder for me than others and those I can add in and they self-correct. I also have another person who reads over my manuscripts and helps me to find words and letters out of order.
Jenny: I understand that you had a lot of support from your mother. Did she believe in you as a writer from the start?
Sherrilyn: I've always loved my mother dearly, but she was bipolar. When she believed in me, she believed in me one hundred and twenty percent. When she didn't....it wasn't fun. But I knew it was her own disability speaking so I never listened to her when she was in one of those cycles. Once she had it under control, she was a force to be reckoned with and never once thought I wouldn't be where I am, even when I wasn't so sure myself.
Jenny: I wish you and your characters a lot of success with your upcoming book "The Warrior" and hopefully more to come!