I had the opportunity to interview Nerine Dorman, a fantastic author of dark urban fantasy and vampire tales. She is also a Lyrical Press content editor and I have the great fortune to work with her for my two novels.
Without further ado, the interview:
1. What inspires you?
A lot of my stories come into being from cues that I take from my environment. Part of what I do for a living is write travel and lifestyle-related editorial for newspapers, and this necessitates visiting new places and meeting new people. But sometimes I’ll be watching a film or reading an article, and an idea will jump out at me then. Music is also a big one and snippets of song lyrics evoke an image or a relationship between people and the story starts flowing from there too.
I believe that authors are people who are often in tune with the subtler undercurrents in their environments. It’s a form of perception. Also, authors have inquisitive minds. They turn over ideas then want to play with them and make them their own.
2. What prompted you to write horror set in South Africa?
I like to write what I know. I feel more comfortable writing about places I’ve already been, so what better approach than to keep a familiar setting where I understand all the nuances. The other motivational factor is that as far as South African settings go proportionately in what gets published, it’s something special. Because my publishers are all in the US, and my readership mainly US- and Europe-based, I feel my writing gives them them a taste of the exotic.
Being a travel writer only helps in this regard, because I know my descriptions are spot-on.
The other thing with South Africa is that we have a very rich, mixed cultural heritage. There is so much going begging here to be included. One of the legends that I touched on in my novel, Khepera Redeemed, was the story of Antjie Somers, a bogeyman used to scare children.
3. Tell me more about South Africa. How was it growing up in SA?
I grew up during the height of the apartheid era and that definitely had an impact on me. We were used to the idea of violence and the fear of imminent bloody civil war. We were very much a nation divided, yet I count myself lucky to have grown into adulthood during the exciting times of the establishment of South Africa’s first real, multi-racial democracy. I’ve seen both the old and the new South Africa. Kids are growing up today who have no idea what it was like.
We were very isolated in the old days due to the socio-economic sanctions that were at their height during the 1980s. Also, as a white South African, I was ashamed of my skin colour and my cultural heritage. My generation was very conscious of this pariah status, constantly looking toward Europe and the USA instead of taking pride in our heritage. Much of this has changed now, I’m glad to see. We have so much happening here now in literature, film, music and art.
What I love about living here is the natural beauty of our land. Much of it is largely unspoilt and there are many national parks, game reserves and wilderness areas. I love getting out into the arid Karoo, which is the semi-desert region in the heart of our country. There I really gain a sense of space and isolation. Also the people are very open and hospitable. Yet by the same measure, I love the city where I live, Cape Town. It’s one of the few places where you can drive 20 minutes from the city centre to find yourself amid wine farms or by the beach. Despite some of the issues, like crime, there is so much to do here, be it to go wine-tasting, whale-watching, hiking, eating out, attending film festivals, literary events or listening to live music. Cape Town’s people are also very cosmopolitan and we really have a melting pot of cultures. Africa meets the West and the East, all at the tip of Africa.
4. What kind of motifs appears frequently in your fiction?
It totally depends what I’m writing, but I often touch on magic. A lot of my characters are part of a subculture or are bohemian. I like juxtaposing people who have opposing views, and I often touch on the conflict that arises from such situations, be it religious or cultural. Music plays a big role in my stories, and I admit to loving my creatures of the night—vampires.
5. Last but not least – wolves or big cats?
Definitely wolves. I’ve always felt an affinity for wolves but I prefer to see them as wolves. Very rarely have I written about shifters who take on the monstrous wolf-man form. I do have one who has a cameo appearance in most of my stories when I write about the fictitious Cape Town club, The Event Horizon. But I’m not going to spoil the fun. Readers need to guess who he is.
Follow me on Twitter @nerinedorman
My horror/urban fantasy titles:
At Lyrical Press:
Urban fantasy collaboration with Carrie Clevenger:
Just My Blood Type:
Romance writing as Therése von Willegen