Sunday, March 14, 2010
Author Interview: Nerine Dorman
Today I would like to introduce Nerine Dorman, author of Khepera Rising and Khepera Redeemed. She is also an editor for Lyrical Press and lives in Cape Town, South Africa.
Natasha: Tell me a little about yourself. How long have you been writing? When you’re not writing, you are also on the editing staff for Lyrical Press. Do you often have a busy schedule?
Nerine: I’ve lived in Cape Town, South Africa, my entire life, and it’s a super city to grow up in. I’ve always known I wanted to work in the media industry but it took me a while to figure out exactly what I’d like to do. This has seen me working in magazine publishing, below-the-line advertising and now, as a sub-editor for a newspaper publisher. At the moment I’m considering a few editing and proof reading courses to bolster my work experience, and I’d eventually like to make the jump to full-time freelance fiction editing, which is one of my passions.
My other passion is, of course, writing, which I can’t seem to escape. I first seriously considered writing when I was about thirteen, but not much came of that until my mid-twenties, when I joined The Critters Workshop and started writing short stories. I blog, write travel and human-interest stories for the papers and somehow still find the time to squeeze in some of my own fiction, although I must admit that since I’ve started editing, I don’t really have as much time as I’d like to dedicate to my own writing.
I find I learn so much about the craft of writing by fixing other people’s manuscripts I’m happy to produce quality, not quantity. The sweetest reward with editing is when my authors receive awesome reviews. I know where they’ve started and it’s always very satisfying to see the final product.
Natasha: What do you like to do when you’re not writing or editing?
Nerine: Ideally I like to spend time at home, since I live next to a national park and even after three years living in my little “treehaus”—a wooden cabin on stilts—I still feel like I’ve arrived at a holiday resort. I have a large garden where I cultivate succulent plants, as well as my container garden on my balcony.
Other than that, I often help my husband with his fetish/glam photography and sometimes assist him when he’s busy with filmmaking. I’m getting more and more sucked into the local indie film scene in Cape Town, which is very exciting as there is so much happening and so much creativity. It truly is “Little Hollywood” here.
I love travelling and organise at least one big road trip each year. My other interests include belly dancing, magic, psychology and history. I love music and can play a number of instruments but I’ve set any ideas of amateur musicianship aside for now. If I could discover a way to go without sleep then maybe I’d try to get more done.
Natasha: Your first book, Khepera Rising was published on December 2009. Your second book, Khepera Redeemed, will be published shortly. Can you tell us a little about both books?
Nerine: In short, the Khepera series follows the misadventures of my current favourite anti-hero, James Edward Guillaume. A self-confessed black magician, he is very much a vain, preening narcissist, but his opinions of the world around him more than make up for his foibles. My readers either love him or hate him. Khepera Rising sees James get revenge after a pair of Christo-militants elects to purge the country of what they consider evil. Added to the mix is one hell of a scary entity known only as The Burning One, and James still has to deal with that while trying to get back together with an old flame.
I really didn’t think I’d write a second book but I had one of my moments of illumination and scribbled down the outline one afternoon shortly after I sold book one. This novel picks up about four months after the events in the first, with the police roping James in as a consultant on a series of ritual murders. To give some background, here in Africa it’s quite a regular occurrence for people to be murdered for body parts for magical rituals performed by so-called “witches”. It’s a very contentious subject and I’ve been following news reports whenever they crop up, so I thought to bring the awful concept a little closer to home in the southern suburbs.
Natasha: How long did it take you to write the series?
Nerine: I started writing Khepera Rising early in 2007. Because this was my first novel-length work, it took me a year to write then six months to edit. I really struggled to get my posterior on the seat but find now that I’ve an idea of how to approach long works, it’s really much easier than it used to be. And it’s far more rewarding than watching telly or playing computer games.
When I set my mind to it, I can now write a full-length work in under three months (about 90 000 words). I then send the manuscript off to my beta readers and forget about it until the critique arrives. I usually procrastinate for about six months before starting round two edits. It’s important to allow a manuscript time to lie fallow, so I can attack it with fresh eyes. It always amazes me how many gremlins I find.
Writing is a waiting game. Too many authors rush their first manuscripts with the resultant rejections that follow. I’ve found it useful to have about three or so works in progress at different stages of production so I always have something that is almost ready for submission. To give you an idea, I’ve submitted a novella I wrote about a year ago to my editor only last week.
Natasha: What was your favourite scene to write? What was your least favourite scene?
Nerine: I have so many favourite scenes but I enjoy the astral/dream sequences the best because I allow my imagination to wander and the results are often surprising and very Jungian. My least favourite scene to write was definitely the part in Khepera Rising where James returns home to find a disaster. I don’t want to give spoilers, but it was probably one of the most difficult events for me to put down in words. It shocked my editor so much she had to skim over that part and return to it later.
Natasha: Do you have any advice for beginning writers that are trying to get published?
Nerine: Stop talking about it. Do it. I joined The Critters Workshop, an online critique group, (www.critique.org) and it was an excellent starting point. The site has some great resources. I also suggest googling the snowflake method of outlining a story. Later, once you’ve made some other writing buddies, see about starting a critique group in your chosen genre, either online or in your home town. Make time every day for your writing. It is better to write 500 words a day than to write maybe twice that amount once a week. Then, when you think your manuscript is as good as it can be, start submitting. Yes, you will face rejection after rejection, but the trick is to be stubborn as hell and if you do receive feedback from editors or agents, take it to heart and try to apply changes to your writing. If you’re looking for markets to submit to, www.duotrope.com is a valuable resource.
As an aside, in my role as content editor, I am always on the lookout for new manuscripts to recommend to my publisher. Some of my favourite authors include Neil Gaiman, Storm Constantine, Jaqueline Carey and Poppy Z Brite, so if you reckon you write dark fantasy rich in evocative prose, strong narrative and lush descriptions, drop me a mail at email@example.com after looking at the submissions guidelines at http://www.lyricalpress.com/submissions
Natasha: What is the best way for readers to contact you? (e-mail, facebook, twitter, etc)
Find me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/nerine
Khepera Rising: http://www.lyricalpress.com/khepera_rising
Khepera Redeemed: http://www.lyricalpress.com/khepera_redeemed