A somewhat grumpy author, fiction editor, magician and sometimes domestic goddess, Nerine Dorman edits genre fiction and writes dark fantasy and romance. She still nurtures vague inclinations of being a famous musician but likes nothing better than hanging out in her Treehaus in South Africa’s Cape Peninsula.
Tell us about the first story you ever wrote.
ND: I must have been about 12 or 13 and I remember having a brainwave during a geography lesson at school. I was really bored and I decided I was going to write a wonderful, swash-buckling fantasy epic. I was highly influenced by movies such as Ladyhawke and Highlander and I’d been reading Anne McCaffrey in vast quantities. What I started was a horrible mash-up of Highlander, really. I got my dad’s secretary to type it up for me and I was going to illustrate it. It was well and truly awful, now that I come to think of it. It was a start, though!
How has living in South Africa influenced your writing? Does it offer inspiration, or do you draw from other sources for ideas?
ND: My environment has definitely inspired me. I occasionally write travel stories for the papers so I often ask “what if” when I pass through particularly fascinating areas. Most often our country’s arid region, the Karoo, gets my plot bunnies hopping. I’ve yet to produce a big masterpiece set in the Karoo but it definitely inspires me, especially when I see little towns or abandoned cars.
But most of my novels so far have been set in Cape Town. We’ve got more than 350 years of history to draw upon. Our city is known as the Tavern of the Seas because for hundreds of years sailors have made it their port of call on their way to or from the East. I find I’m influenced by the many cultures here, be they Dutch, indigenous, British or Eastern. My family have farmed here for as long as there have been European settlers, and I can trace my roots down to the very first Free Burghers farming along the Liesbeek River. My parents were the first generation who moved away from tilling the soil. A sense of history and place pretty much pervades my writing.
ND: I’m currently working on book three of the Khepera series. I can’t really put one forward as my favourite because each means something different to me, perhaps a reflection of myself as an author at the time of writing. I don’t also really see them as separate, but more a continuation of one story, if that makes sense. It’s just broken into easily digestible chunks. I’ve already tormented my poor editor with a teaser from chapter one of the current one and I hope to be done with the first draft by the end of September.
ND: In essence, Jamie’s isn’t maliciously setting out to bring about anyone’s downfall unless they give him good cause. He’s a regular bloke who has his flaws if you can get past his appearance and his penchant for gothic theatrics. Yes, he’s self-centered, vain and prone to indulgence, but he’s not out to make people unhappy. Oh, he does enjoy provoking those who he considers the “sheeple” but it’s more from a puck-like need to stave off boredom.
Lastly, and most importantly: if you could have any supernatural power, which would it be and why?
ND: Oh, I’d love to engage in astral travel, of being able to appear in people’s dreams or create illusions around them. Who hasn’t dreamed of being the invisible man in your enemy’s house and turning on the hi-fi or moving stuff around? I’d love to be able to haunt people.