A warm welcome to Nerine Dorman who has allowed me to question her about her writing and her latest book.
Many thanks for the spot on your blog.
Daisy. I love that Camdeboo Nights is set in the Karoo. What made you chose this particular African setting for your story?
Nerine: I’ve always felt an affinity for the Karoo. The South African interior is very dry and desolate, and is filled with mystery. My father was born in the small Karoo town of Hanover, and spent his formative years in little towns like Aberdeen and De Aar – so I have always been fascinated by the hardy souls who’d endure such a harsh, isolated environment. Not only is this region a place of great beauty, but there is much history attached – you can find many fossils and weird plants and animals. And lots of stories too.
Daisy. Many visitors to the Karoo say they are changed by their experience, does the Karoo hold special memories or meaning for you?
Nerine: Definitely. Some of my best holidays have been in the Karoo. At night you can see billions of stars – more so than in the city. Also the quiet is all-consuming. You can finally hear yourself think. The days are hot, which forces you to slow your pace. I spent 10 days in Nieu Bethesda while I finished writing Camdeboo Nights, and by the time I returned to Cape Town, I was very well rested.
Daisy: Without giving too much away which is your favourite character in this story and why?
Nerine: Etienne remains one of my favourites. He’s plucky and despite the fact that life has handed him a raw deal – not only is he a little person, but I imply that he comes from a broken home and has an alcoholic father – he still has a well-defined sense of loyalty to his close friends. Though he’s picked on by bullies, he doesn’t let their actions toward him affect his generally positive outlook on life.
Daisy: What attracts you to the paranormal genre?
Nerine: I love the idea that there’s another magical world lurking in the shadows alongside ours. I love asking “What if vampires, werewolves and witches *do* exist?” And most of my stories are born out of those “what if” suppositions. They’re fun tales that distract me from the humdrum. At some point I’ll have to write more “serious” works but right now I’m having fun paddling in the paranormal pond.
Daisy: Is there anything special that tempted you to write for young adults?
Nerine: Young adults stand on the cusp of their life’s journey. Anything is possible, and they’re at that exciting time of their lives when they’re about to establish themselves as adults. For those of us who’ve already chosen a specific path we can vicariously relive our younger years through the actions of young adult protagonists.
Daisy: Can you explain about Camdeboo, it’s such a lovely word, rolls off the tongue. I understand it’s a place, what drew you to use that word for your story?
Nerine: The Camdeboo is a particular region of the the vast Karoo. The word itself is derived from an old Khoi word “green hollow” and the area is situated in the Eastern Cape between the town of Graaff-Reinet and the coastal Garden Route. The word “Camdeboo” immediately makes me remember an Afrikaans song I heard where the Camdeboo was mentioned – so I get a bit nostalgic for my childhood when the world was still such a magical place. My father often spoke about growing up in the Karoo too but I never got to see these places, so this is my way of exploring these ideas.
Daisy: If you had the opportunity to do so what might you say to Helen at the beginning of Camdeboo Nights?
Nerine: I’d tell her not to go with Arwen to the graveyard that night. If she hadn’t gone to the graveyard then perhaps she might’ve had a little more time to grow into her powers without Arwen inadvertently kick-starting them for her. Of course then the story wouldn’t have been nearly as exciting…
Daisy: The review of the story describes your writing as having je ne sais qoui. Would you agree with the statement?
Nerine: Why of course! I’ve yet to encounter other South African fantasy authors who take advantage of the rich resources a South African setting provides to genre fiction.
Daisy: You write in different genres and fields, which is your favourite?
Nerine: It totally depends what book I’m writing at the time. I’ve just finished a middle grade fantasy novel, and enjoyed writing for that genre immensely. But I’ll switch to adult contemporary fantasy shortly and then that will be my favourite. I believe in being flexible.
Daisy: Where do you see yourself in ten years time?
Nerine: Travelling more, and no longer working for the papers. The wheels have been set in motion for me, and I do expect there will be changes. I’d like to have a balanced career as both editor and author, and things are headed in that direction. My ideal is to work from home, and right now I’m burning the midnight oil to make that a possibility. At some point I will have to make the switch.
Daisy: What do you think is your greatest achievement so far, in writing or in life?
Nerine: Realising that my most valuable commodity is time. All the riches in the world mean nothing if you don’t have time for the things that are really important. For me these things are having the time to play music, read books, write and edit. I am blessed that I have a wonderful house in a beautiful area that I can share with a life partner who shares similar ideals.
Daisy: How do you best like to chill out?
Nerine: Reading, watching movies, gymming… Going for walks. Sometimes just pottering about in the garden.
Daisy: Do you plot your stories or fly by the seat of your pants?
Nerine: I have an outline, but I do allow stories to deviate.
Daisy: What is the most entertaining thing you think you’ve ever written?
Nerine: I’ve a short story I wrote a while back for Friday Flash: http://nerinedorman.blogspot.com/2012/02/fridayflash-class-outing.html
Class Outing was very well received, and was actually based on a dream I had. Most of my best work started out as a dream, but this short story still makes me laugh out loud.
Daisy: Is there something you’d love to write but haven’t yet?
Nerine: I’d love to write a sweeping, epic saga in the same style as George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. I’ll get there. One day.
My books on Amazon:
Stalk me on Twitter @nerinedorman