Sherrilyn Kenyon was born in Columbus, GA while her father was stationed at Ft. Benning, GA. Her father was a sergeant in the Army and her mother a convenience store clerk who used to take Kenyon to work with her where Kenyon would stock shelves and price items. Kenyon's father abandoned the family when Kenyon was eight, leaving her mother to raise Kenyon, her younger brother, and her older sister, who has severe cerebral palsy, alone. Kenyon's brother was sent to live with their grandparents in Atlanta, GA while Kenyon stayed in Columbus to help care for her sister. After almost two years of separation, the family was reunited when Kenyon and her mother and sister moved to Atlanta. Kenyon's first recognition for her writing came when she won a contest in third grade by writing an essay about her single mother for Mother's Day and it was followed a year later when she won a DAR Award for a historical story she wrote about a girl living in Colonial Virginia.
Kenyon was raised in the middle of eight boys, but only two of them were actually her brothers. The other six were her cousins who, due to family crisis, lived with her family off an on most of her early life and young adulthood. She also has two much older sisters.
Even as a child, Kenyon knew that she wanted to be a writer as it provided her an escape from an abusive childhood. She is a big advocate against child abuse and participates in fund raisers to help other victims. At age seven she wrote and illustrated her first novel, Sharron's Secret, a horror story about a girl who uses her psychic powers to kill her brothers and take over her school. At fourteen, Kenyon made her first professional sale, and continued to write for school newspapers, yearbooks, local papers and magazines throughout high school and college. She gained her love of horror, zombies and paranormal films and novels from her mother, who never censored what movies the young girl was allowed to watch. Her mother even took her to see Night of the Living Dead at a drive-in theater when she was only four years old.
Kenyon originally intended to major in art in college so that she could work in the comic industry and develop her own series. Her dream was to one day work with Marvel or DC comics (her Dark-Hunter comics were turned down by Marvel, DC and Dark Horse back in the 1980s). Marvel would later go on to publish her international best selling series Lords of Avalon as both comics and Graphic novels. St. Martin's Press adapted her Dark-Hunter series into a New York Times best selling manga series and Yen Press has recently acquired rights to adapt her Chronicles of Nick series into manga.
She was accepted into the Savannah College of Art and Design, but was unable to afford the tuition to attend. She entered a state college instead (Georgia College) where she majored in English, hoping to be admitted into the Creative Writing program at the University of Georgia (she transferred there after her first two years at GC). Her first quarter of college, she was placed in a remedial English class due to her dyslexia which resulted in a low score on the placement test. The first day of class, her professor realized the mistake and had her placed in an advanced English course that the professor also taught.
Kenyon spent two years as an English major and as an editor for the school paper. She applied three times for admission to the Creative Writing program at the University of Georgia, but was never admitted. After her third attempt, the professor in charge of the program asked her not to apply again as the program was designed for students who had a serious future in publishing and said that Kenyon lacked the talent it would take to be published in fiction, even though Kenyon had already published numerous short stories in magazines and journals. Ironically, those short stories she submitted were the start of her Dark-Hunter series that would lead her to international fame.
In the early 1990s, Kenyon published six best selling books and then lost her contract. For the next four and a half years, Kenyon continued to write even in the midst of personal tragedy. In 1996 alone, after having published six best selling books, she had over 150 rejections. She made her next sale in 1998 with a historical pirate novel. Her editor at the time (along with many others) turned down her Dark-Hunter series, claiming that the vampire genre was dead and that no one other than Anne Rice could put one on a list. It was for that reason that she ceased using the word vampire and called her villains Daimons. It was a gamble that worked.
Since the Dark-Hunter books were published in 2002, they have sold tens of millions of copies in over 100 countries. She has placed more than 70 novels on the New York Times, with numerous number ones. All of her books debut at the top of the major lists. Unlike most writers, she doesn't have a set demographic. Rather her books are read by young and old, male and female. Kenyon is also the first genre writer to put a vampire novel at number one on a major list.
Kenyon attributes her popularity to her ever growing fan base of self-proclaimed Menyons who routinely hold get-togethers the world over to celebrate her books. She is fiercely loyal to her fans and considers them part of her family.