Camdeboo Nights by Nerine Dorman
Helen Ashfield’s world is about to be turned upside down. Is she ready?
Helen Ashfield’s life is complicated. Not only must she adjust to her parents’ divorce, but she has to come to grips with her new school in the small South African Karoo town of Graaff-Reinet. She’s sorely mistaken if she thinks she’s going to slot seamlessly into her new life. Her growing magical powers have attracted the unwanted attention of Trystan, a vampire, who may not have her best interests at heart.
Outcast from his kind for drinking another vampire’s blood, Trystan has been on the run for almost a hundred years from Mantis–the closest thing their kind has to an enforcer. All Trystan wants is an existence of quiet anonymity, but Helen turns his world upside-down.
Helen’s powers also mark her as one of Mantis’ targets. If Mantis gets control of Helen, she’ll change the course of history…for the worse.
About Nerine Dorman
An editor and multi-published author, Nerine Dorman currently resides in Cape Town, South Africa, with her visual artist husband. Some of the publishers with whom she works include Dark Continents Publishing and eKhaya (an imprint of Random House Struik). She has been involved in the media industry for more than a decade, with a background in magazine and newspaper publishing, commercial fiction, and print production management within a below-the-line marketing environment. Her book reviews, as well as travel, entertainment and lifestyle editorial regularly appear in national newspapers. A few of her interests include music travel, history (with emphasis on Egypt), psychology, philosophy, magic and the natural world.
No more being pushed around
By Nerine Dorman
Real-life events often creep into my writing. One of the tragedies that made an impact on me was the not so great results of school bullying where the victim turns into the monster. While guns aren’t as readily available here in South Africa as they are in the United States, we’ve also had the unfortunate turn of events where a kid has turned on his bullies violently.
In 2008 high school pupil Morne Harmse, from Krugersdorp near Johannesburg, killed one of his fellow pupils with a samurai sword. The case was splashed all over the media, and you can read a number of the articles here (http://www.news24.com/Tags/People/morne_harmse). But the story is very similar to similar cases in the US (I can think of the Columbine tragedy off the top of my head). And I had to refer to it in Camdeboo Nights.
Which brings us to the not-so-great topic of bullying.
I was bullied mercilessly throughout my primary school years for various reasons. I was the only Afrikaans kid in an English-speaking class. I got good grades, which for some reason was also a reason to tease. I’d also not been raised to be very sociable, which didn’t help my cause. So, hence the teasing, tormenting. Neither did it help that one of the teachers had it in for me thanks to the fact that my mom used to teach at the school I attended. He made my life a misery, and often humiliated me in front of my classmates.
So, yeah, my heart bleeds for the underdog who bears the brunt of such heartless behaviour. And Camdeboo Nights is pretty much about the social outcasts banding together to stand up against those who’re used to strong-arming others and getting their own way. My mismatched band of characters includes a budding mage, a vampire, a witch and a little person. Quite the combination. Each possesses certain qualities that complement the others’.
And they don’t always get on, nor do they agree about the best way to solve their problems.
I thought I’d share this excerpt, which is one of my favourite scenes, and shows my characters in action:
* * * *
They rounded the corner, ready to cut through the gap between the science labs and the mathematics block, when they stumbled onto Jean-Pierre and Johan. The pair had cornered Timothy, one of the Grade 8s.
“C’mon, Timmy, give us the money.”
Etienne grabbed Arwen’s wrist, forcing her to stop. The Grade 10 boys had the smaller kid backed up against the wall. Jean-Pierre gripped him by the upper arm, his fingers biting in so hard Timothy’s skin turned white.
What could they do? The sensible thing would be to back off but Damon and Helen’s abrupt arrival from around the opposite corner robbed them of the opportunity to make that decision.
“Whoops! Sorry!” Damon exclaimed, almost bumping into Johann.
“Oh, look, it’s the spaz gang,” Johan drawled, as both boys turned to face the additional interruption.
“Leave him alone!” Helen shouted.
Etienne cringed. Don’t, Helen.
She stepped forward. “I saw what you did to my brother last week and I’m not going to let you carry on getting up to this kind of stuff.”
Much to Etienne’s surprise, Jean-Pierre let go of Timothy.
Then Arwen joined them to stand next to Helen. “Yeah, bozos, not so tough now that there are more of us.”
“Ooh, the witch has PMS.” Johan sneered. “What are you going to do, Arwen, curse me?”
“I may just.” Arwen narrowed her eyes.
Emboldened by his friends’ pluck, Etienne waddled to the front, standing hands akimbo. “I still have a bone to pick with some of your friends,” Etienne said, thinking of the weekend’s incident involving the dustbin.
Jean-Pierre and Johan shared a look. Clearly they were no longer as sure of themselves as they had been moments earlier. Timothy stood frozen, pressed to the wall, his face white. “Aah, screw them,” Johan said. “Just you lot wait. We’ll get even.”
“Sure you will,” Etienne replied. “Now be good little doggies and go back to your bitch.”
“Screw you, Etienne,” Jean-Pierre snarled, and gave the appearance as though he would cause trouble, but he evidently thought better of giving Etienne the shove he’d been considering.
God, it felt good to have the roles reversed, for once.
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