May I present a wonderful friend and author, Nerine Dorman.
1. Please give us a bit of a biography to start?
It’s quite simple. By day I work for a newspaper as a sub-editor and writer. By night I write and edit fiction. I’m a full-time snark. You kinda have to be in this industry. I see many crimes against the English language daily.
2. Tell us about your day job(s)?
I work mainly with advertorial copy. It’s reached the point where the banality factor is so high I end up concocting bizarre tales to write for my own stories. There’s a reason why I write about vampires, death and despair. If I didn’t, I’d have gone sub-editor long ago and taken out my colleagues with an office chair or something.
3. When did you start writing?
I first figured out I was good at this writing business when I was about 11 or so. I’ve got a stockpile of journals I wrote during my teenage years I’m probably going to burn in a great big bonfire one day—mainly due to the embarrassing content.
4. Was there a favorite writing teacher or mentor?
Song lyrics. I’ve a few musicians I went ape about and knew most of the lyrics well enough. Yeah, so it was Queen, Nine Inch Nails and Type O Negative mostly. Bauhaus… And I'm obsessed with Poppy Z Brite and the original graphic novel, The Crow, by JO Barr. I think I over-identified with these folks’ words even though when I was younger I had absolutely no real reason to feel any angst. Now I just kinda laugh at these things. But they’ve definitely all influenced my style of writing.
Mentors? Right now I’m absolutely in awe of South African authors like Cat Hellisen and Arja Salafranca, who’ve done a lot to guide me and give me confidence. They’re good friends and mentors.
5. Are you an avid reader? Who are your favorite authors?
My only quibble is I don’t read enough anymore. My top authors include Poppy Z Brite, Neil Gaiman, Mary Gentle, Jacqueline Carey, Storm Constantine and CJ Cherryh. I can return to their books time and again.
6. How much time do you spend writing?
Not enough. But if you include emails, blogs, social networking and editorial, I probably spend about half my life writing.
7. What does the act of writing do for you?
I really struggle to talk to people. The written word acts as a barrier and allows me to think before I commit myself to words. Words, to me, are a form of magic. They not only relate stories but they expose readers to different ways of thinking. So, for me, writing is a way in which I can change reality.
8. What genre(s) do you write in and which is your favorite?
Most of the time I write dark/urban fantasy. These would definitely be my favorite. But of late I do find myself drawn to contemporary fiction without the supernatural elements. It totally depends on what my state of mind is and what story I have to tell.
9. How many books have you had published? Which genres?
This is the part where I have to count on my fingers, but I’ve got two novels out in my urban fantasy Khepera series. These follow the misadventures of my South African black magician, Jamie. Not really for the faint-hearted, these stories verge on splatterpunk.
I’m currently working on book three but it’s taking its sweet time because I’ve also got a bug up my arse with a work of contemporary fiction.
Then, writing as Therése von Willegen I have two contemporary erotic romances out. One is Tainted Love, which is a kind of reverse-Cinderella story about a woman who becomes a stripper. The other is Hell’s Music, which is about a bookshop owner who falls in with a bad-boy shock-rocker while dealing with her family issues.
There’s a novella out entitled The Namaqualand Book of the Dead that’s a bit of a murder-mystery about a young woman who travels to the arse-end of the South African West Coast to find out what happened to her supposedly dead boyfriend.
I’ve got two releases coming up. One is What Sweet Music They Make, a novella about a vampire who develops a fascination with a mortal musician.
Then there’s Inkarna, which is a novel involving an ancient Egyptian reincarnation cult. Both these are due for release in 2011.
10. Where can readers learn more about you and your current books?
Current urban fantasy titles: http://www.lyricalpress.com/store/index.php?main_page=authors&authors_id=107&zenid=ue5bqr334dpi1ole6b4994a6a5
Hell’s Music: http://www.lyricalpress.com/store/index.php?main_page=authors&authors_id=189&zenid=ue5bqr334dpi1ole6b4994a6a5
Tainted Love on your Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Tainted-Siren-Publishing-Classic-ebook/dp/B004I8WSFU
And if you’re looking for a free read, I’ve collaborated with Carrie Clevenger on a quirky urban fantasy short story, that combines my romance nom de plume with her rather tall, dark and looming vampire.
11. How do you come up with your characters?
Usually I’ll be listening to music, or thinking about situations I’ve encountered—either by reading an interview with someone or some daft idea that comes crawling out of the recesses of my brain while I’m working or walking.
12. Most authors say their character find them and suddenly begin telling their stories, is that what happened with your characters?
I get visuals, sometimes quite vivid. I see people interacting and I ask myself, “How did they get here?” or “Where are they going to end up?” The rest sort of follows after that and the story grows organically. I feel like I’m living their experiences while I write.
13. Are your characters sometimes composites of people you know or knew?
They’re definitely inspired by people I’ve known or followed in the media, or situations I’ve been in. I’ve had some people screw me over badly, and that pain, although it dulls, never really goes away. Family. Lovers. Friends. I channel a lot of that anger into my writing at times.
14. What character point of view is your favorite to write from, male or female? Why?
I switch. So far I’ve had Jamie coming through as my main male voice, but Ashton, the protagonist in Inkarna, is pretty interesting ‘cos strictly speaking he’s a bit of both, but I’m not going to say anymore for fear of spoilers. I don’t really hang out with chicks, and one of my closest female friends self-identifies as male. It gets confusing sometimes, but I will write the character who’s most appropriate for telling the story.
15. You live in South Africa. Does this influence where your characters reside in their stories?
I’m most familiar with South Africa so the majority of my novels will be set in this country. There are so many subtle shades in storytelling and I like my settings to be real. While I’ve been overseas a few times, I’ve never stayed anywhere long enough to feel as though I could convincingly pull off an entire novel in a non-South African setting unless I worked with a writing partner who could coach me.
We’re used to living on a knife edge here, and I think it translates in my writing. I’ve dealt with being stabbed and targeted by criminals. It definitely adds an edge to the way I see life.
16. You mentioned the collaborative piece with Carrie Clevenger. Can you tell us a little about that and how it came about? Are there plans for more?
Carrie and me never intended to write such a long short story. Just My Blood Type was supposed to be a “mock” travel story and it kinda grew legs. The next thing we knew, we reached 9000 words and decided to finish it up properly as a freebie off Smashwords so readers could choose a range of download options.
We just found that our writing styles and approaches to the craft matched. She’s bloody amazing with dialogue and characterization, and looking for those little twists in a plot, while my stronger points are descriptive narrative and editing. Also, we’re pretty much on the same page when it comes to how the story must flow. There’s no competition and we tend to knock around the ideas until they feel right.
We’re currently finishing a longer work, which is a cross-over between her Crooked Fang and my Inkarna settings. We’re aiming to release Blood and Fire in February and are currently wrapping the first draft. We’re working with a professional illustrator on cover art—so there will be some great stuff happening.
17. What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Read lots of books, not just your chosen genre. Read best-sellers, classics and indie-published titles. Evaluate what you like about their writing; what you don’t like. Play around with applying these thoughts to your own writing. Most importantly, build yourself a cabal of writing buddies who’re around the same level that you are. Critique each other’s work and don’t be precious about your words.
Some great resources can be found at www.absolutewrite.com/forums
Then go read Stephen King’s On Writing and look at Donald Maass’s resources.
Follow me on Twitter @nerinedorman or my blog http://nerinedorman.blogspot.com
Thank you, Nerine for taking the time to share a bit of yourself with me and others.