Today I have author Nerine Dorman visiting. She's got a new book out called The Guardian's Wyrd and I've asked her a few questions about it. You know you want to read this! And then go buy the book!
Ready, set, go!
Me: Most YA features a female protagonist, yet you went with a male? Why?
Nerine: I know it might come off a bit weird, but I feel more comfortable writing male characters. When I was a kid, I always got on better with guys, and this seems to have carried through to my adult years. I don’t really think of myself in female terms, and some of my closest friends are all male, and the women I get on with tend to be similar in outlook. I don’t like stereotypically “girlish” things. I was the girl who fell out of trees, went fishing, rode bikes and played in bands. Not much has changed, except perhaps that I don’t own a bike anymore.
From time to time I will write female characters, when the story calls for it, but a female lead wouldn’t have felt right for the context for The Guardian’s Wyrd, because I was looking to play up the idea of a bromance, and also my feeling that there’s a plethora of wonderful YA stories out there with strong female characters. I wanted to play with the boys for a bit.
Me: You write in several different genres and excel in them all. Why do you write YA and where does it rank against the other genres you publish in as far as personal preference?
Nerine: I don’t really distinguish between whether a book is YA or adult. It’s merely the age of the protagonists that differs, and even that is subject to whim. What is right for the story I want to tell? When I was a kid, loads of the fantasy books (for adults) that I read, had protagonists that started out young, and I followed their progress as they learned to swing swords and slay dragons. Reading is a lot about escapism. What would you do if you could have your life over again? To a degree, that’s exactly what we do when we read certain books – to have those experiences that are impossible for us to have in real life.
Me: Do the characters' names in The Guardian's Wyrd have any special significance?
Nerine: I agonise over naming my characters. Jay is kinda named after a friend of mine, and his surname actually comes from my next-door-neighbour in Hout Bay. Yes, here in South Africa, some folks’ surnames match the months of the year. It’s explained in the story. It’s very much a South African thing, I suspect. I really just liked Rowan’s name. It kinda stuck. If anything, I allow my imagination free rein when names pop up.
Me: I know you are South African, but is that the only reason you set this novel in South Africa?
Nerine: Technically only *half* the novel’s set in South Africa [laughs]. My main motivator was that I wanted to write a story about where I grew up, and that was Hout Bay, which is situated on the Atlantic seaboard on the Cape Peninsula. It used to be a charming fishing village when I was a wee sprog. No one much wanted to live there, as it was very isolated. Then in the 1990s all the yuppies moved in, and housing developments went up, so the entire demographic shifted, especially when a township sprang up after the old Group Areas Act was scrapped.
Me: What does "Wyrd" in the title mean?
Nerine: Not “weird”! [laughs] I look at the older meaning in use by the old European concept of wyrd, which roughly translates as “fate” or that which must “come to pass”. It’s about honour and destiny, and very much ties up to Jay’s journey as he uncovers his path.
Me: Who did the cover art and why did you chose that particular image to represent the novel?
Nerine: I didn’t have much choice in the cover art for the ebook version, but I would like to share a little bit about the cover art of the print version, which will be released soon. This is a bit of a teaser, but I did get to work with my favourite illustrator extraordinaire, Daniël Hugo, who totally captured the essence of the key characters in his deft hand. The ebook artwork, chosen by Wordsmack, who brought out that edition, I feel, is more conceptual, and no less striking. Very different from how I would have envisioned, but I’m nonetheless pleased with the effect as it is very eye-catching.