Hello Readers! Today I bring you author Nerine Dorman. A South African dark and contemporary fantasy author, fiction editor, newspaper sub-editor and writer, Nerine is also a full-time snark, and is very grumpy most of the time (unless she has coffee and/or cupcakes or gets her hair brushed, in which case she purrs). She is the editor of Bloody Parchment (eKhaya, Random House Struik); editor of the upcoming Dark Harvest anthology (Dark Continents Publishing) and occasionally reviews books. She blogs regularly and her editorial regularly appears in South African newspapers.
Today Nerine is here to talk about the Karoo region of South African and her latest release, Camdeboo Nights (Lyrical Press, Feb. 4, 2013, Paranormal YA). Please help me welcome Nerine to That’s What I’m Talking About.
Magic in the Camdeboo…
I make no secret of the fact that I love the Karoo. For those of you who don’t know where or what the Karoo is, it’s the somewhat desolate semi-desert that makes up the interior of South Africa. Roughly divided into the Little and Great Karoo, this is a land of big, starry skies, sun-bleached vistas and sometimes the occasional rusty squeal of a wind pump can be heard over the harsh sound of cicadas. Small farming communities are often joined only by a dusty dirt track lined with prickly pear and blue agave, and myths and legends abound. Turn a corner and you’ll find a rusty Buick sagging into the dirt, or pick up bits of Blue Willow pattern china.
One Karoo destination that is my heart’s rest is a small Eastern Cape community of Nieu Bethesda that’s part of the Camdeboo region. When people ask me where this is, I happily tell them “exactly in the middle of nowhere”. And that’s precisely the way I like my holidays.
What drew me to Nieu Bethesda initially was the Owl House, a creation of the artist Helen Martins during the 1950s to 1970s. She spent many years building hundreds of cement sculptures of owls, camels, pilgrims, mermaids and more, and covered the inside of her home with mirrors and lamps. The walls were painted bright colors and covered in crushed glass, which would reflect the light from the many candles at night. It was an altogether magical place, and has long fascinated me. Naturally, whenever I do have spare cash lying around, I make my pilgrimage to Nieu Bethesda to get away from everything.
I wrote a large chunk of Camdeboo Nights during my last visit to Nieu Bethesda in 2009. We spent ten glorious days in the Karoo, and I got a feel for Nieu Bethesda’s routine. Since completing the novel, I’ve had characters of other stories return to the hamlet, and the Wareings in their various guises occasionally take small cameo roles in my other novels. I’m firmly under the spell of the Karoo landscape and its people, and make absolutely no apologies for it.
Instead of following the story from only the points of view of two main characters, I decided to alternate between the viewpoints of two secondary characters as well. I hope my readers pick their favorites. I certainly have mine, but I’m not going to say who!
Trystan is a 200-year-old vampire who’s gone into hiding. He committed the cardinal sin of killing another vampire, and he’s addicted to the rush he gets from their blood. That’s why there’s a price on his head, and he’s been lying low in the small Karoo hamlet of Nieu Bethesda since the early 1900s. The only attachment he’s allowed himself is his 1948 Hudson Commodore, which he’s lovingly maintained for more than sixty years. The few times he’s gotten involved with other people (vampires included) it’s always ended in heartache for all concerned. When Helen moves in next door, he can’t decide whether he wants to eat her, or protect her. He cannot deny that he’s attracted to her, but is it her potential as a wielder of the mystical Essence, or is it because she makes him feel alive?
Helen’s had a rough time. She and her brother, Damon, feel as though their father’s abandoned them just when they need him the most. Their mother is suffering from a mental breakdown, and they have to go stay with their grandmother, a forbidding woman whom they’ve never met. Not only that, but they have to start at a new school. When a strange boy appears on Helen’s balcony one night, she is fascinated, even if she thinks Trystan is a little odd. She finds his interest in her flattering because up until now she hasn’t had much luck with boys. But things start going a little strange, and Helen discovers that Trystan’s not the only one who’s attracted to her—and some of the others don’t have her best interests at heart.
Teen witch Arwen hates the fact that her family, a bunch of eccentric witches, live as recluses. But she hates her school too, and often runs into trouble with bullies. She’s angry and often stirs controversy, just for the hell of it. But when she meets Helen, Arwen inadvertently triggers a series of events that even she could not predict, and she isn’t quite ready for the misadventures that follow. Thing is, can her ability to harness magic save her and her friends?
Etienne is a little person, and has put up with a lifetime of teasing. He’s been moved from school to school so often, he hasn’t put down any roots, and Arwen is his only friend. He might be small in stature, but he has a big heart, and that’s what counts when the trouble starts. And he, and his friends, are about to find themselves in a whole world of trouble.
Of course there’s a whole cast of characters, and the story takes quite a few unexpected twists and turns. There is even a lion (yes, this is Africa, after all). So I invite you to step inside the story and meet the gang. You’ll get to see a slice of Africa that isn’t featured on the Discovery Channel.
Stalk me on Twitter @nerinedorman (https://twitter.com/nerinedorman)
Thanks for stopping by and sharing with us today, Nerine!