Camdeboo Nights – Where it all began…

Folks don’t believe me when I tell them that Camdeboo Nights was the third novel I ever wrote. The first, Khepera Rising, is already in its second edition, and the second shall remain forever unnamed. Its ashes have been buried in a deep hole and I was only too happy to burn that manuscript!

But it took me a while to get round to publishing Camdeboo Nights, and I’ve got quite a number of other stories that saw the light of day before this one. In addition, this novel has a bit of a convoluted tale attached to it.

At first I tried my hand at writing flash fiction, and what you see as chapter one is actually a development of that short story, which was one of the first I ever sold. Now the site that took that story is long gone but I’m glad I can keep the tale alive in the novel.

What got me started was that I wanted to tell one story from the point of view of multiple characters. I’d been reading George RR Martin’s epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire, and I absolutely loved the idea of telling one story from the limited points of view of characters who don’t have all the information.

And I had a lot of fun creating the characters, and they are the ones who drive the story. We begin with Trystan. Not only is he a vampire, but he’s on the run from his own kind because he drank the heart’s blood of another. So he’s been hiding from the world and prowls the roads in the only friend he’s got – a vintage Hudson Commodore that he’s kept in mint condition for many years. He’s completely out of touch with contemporary culture, so of course when Helen moves in next door with her grandmother, she reminds him what it’s like to act like his apparent age. The only complication is he can’t decide whether to eat her or protect her.

Helen’s going through a particularly tough time. Not only are her parents splitting up but her mom’s affected by a mental illness. Helen, her brother and her mom end up moving to a small village in the countryside to go live with their grandmother, whom they’ve never met. On top of that, they have to adjust to life in boarding school, and have the dubious honour of drawing the ire of the school bullies. When Helen meets Trystan, she’s instantly attracted to him but is fairly wary of starting a relationship with him since she’s had a bad run with the boys she’s been interested in before. Luckily she is quick to make friends, and that’s where Arwen and Etienne come in.

Arwen’s parents really did name her after a character from Lord of the Rings. But not only that, she’s descended from a long line of hereditary witches. Occasionally she reads people’s fortunes and her predictions are uncannily correct. She’s not all that happy about living in an isolated part of the country, but her parents carry a terrible burden. They’re on the run from an ancient enemy that has hunted all witches to the point of extinction – vampires.

The other important character in this story is Etienne, and he came into being as a nod to my favourite little person – Tyrion Lannister. I’ve always wanted to write a character who’s different in such a profound way, and portray them sympathetically. Etienne has a big heart and a keen sense of justice. A bit of an outcast like his best friend Arwen, he’s learnt to cope with the bullying at school from the popular kids. And his smart mouth often gets him into more trouble than it’s worth.

So, throw all these youngsters together, add a few malicious vampires and other supernaturals, and you’re in for one helluva ride. If you’ve yet to read fiction set in South Africa, do consider giving Camdeboo Nights a shot. I had oodles of fun writing this story, and it took me on a few completely unexpected twists and turns.

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.

About Camdeboo Nights

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.


Armed with her grandmother’s shopping list, Helen ran out to the familiar silver Volvo, looking forward to speaking with Arwen, only to discover Szandor and another woman with a teased-out mop of white-blond hair waited in the car.

The woman turned icy gray eyes on Helen, giving her the impression that she could read each of Helen’s secrets.
She was pale, which wasn’t helped by the funerary aspect of her clothing–a buttoned-up sleeveless shirt with a cameo at her throat. When she moved, an audible swish of many layers of satin and chiffon filled the vehicle.

This must be the aunt. She couldn’t be the mother. The resemblance to Szandor was almost uncanny.

Szandor smiled, but the pleasure did not reach his eyes. “This is Sonja, my sister. Sonja, this is Arwen’s new friend, Helen.”
Sonja gave the briefest of frowns before facing the window.

“Uh, hi,” Helen said, wishing that she could be anywhere else but in this car with these peculiar people. The journey to Graaff-Reinet would be just over half an hour but it would feel like an eternity.

Szandor made a sound that was almost a snigger before turning the key. If only Damon were here, but her brother had gone to visit the Prof the instant his chores were done.

They drove in silence, with only the hiss of the air-conditioner as accompaniment, until they left the valley.
Then Szandor said, “Did you enjoy the films last night, Helen?”

She thought her heart would explode. Should she lie? Should she allow the story to filter through without some of the pertinent details?

“I… Uh. Yes.” She had watched films after Trystan had walked them home. Granted, she hadn’t been able to concentrate on any of the onscreen action.

“Oh,” Szandor said.

She caught a glimpse of his amused expression in the rearview mirror.

Bloody hell, of course he didn’t believe her. What did she expect?

“You haven’t seen or heard anything that you would consider out of the ordinary, have you?” Szandor asked.
“Um, no.”

“You’ll tell us if you do, won’t you?” Szandor asked. It was more a command than a question.

“I guess so.” Helen clutched the seat with white-knuckled hands.

Her grandmother’s amused tones echoed in her memory. The whole lot of them, they’re all witches. The father, too.
How far would Szandor push his craft? What could he do? Was she in any danger? If there was the superstitious fear of witchcraft that was prevalent among the indigenous Africans…

She’d read a little about the subject a few years previously while researching for a painting for her art classes. Witchcraft was a fascinating topic but she had never expected to ever deal with the real thing. Now her present situation seemed very real and very menacing.

“Where’s Arwen?” Helen hoped to steer their conversation to safer territory. She may as well have said “Nice weather, we’re having.”

“Arwen has been grounded,” Szandor said, his pale gaze reading the road ahead.

Oh heck. He knew.

“Oh.” Perhaps it would be better to say nothing at all then she wouldn’t dig herself a deeper hole.

The rest of the ride passed in uncomfortable silence. Helen pressed her face against the glass and hoped nothing more would be said.

She hated deception of any kind. Whenever she lied, she always ended up being caught out. Instead, she watched the passing landscape, where gray-blue spiked agave lined the road in clumps. Every so often jeep tracks led from the road they followed and she wondered where they went.

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  1. Book sounds fabulous, complex and intriguing. Can't wait to read it!

  2. It does, doesn't it? Quite different from a lot of the books I have featured here, even the other paranormal romances. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with us, Liza. We always like to hear from our readers. And you beat me to my own post this morning!

    I just wanted to welcome Nerine and thank her for this wonderful guest post. I enjoyed reading it!

  3. Love the post, Nerine. Your characters sound fascinating. Good luck with Camdeboo Nights!

  4. A paranormal set in South Africa? Now that's intriguing! Best of luck, Nerine. May you have many sales!

    1. Hey ya, Deborah! Thanks for checking it out. Does sound intriguing, to say the least. I love the variety found even within just the romance genre!

  5. Thank you for having me over. I do believe that the setting will offer something completely different. Plus the story was immensely fun to write.

  6. I love the premise of this book. It's definitely going on my TBR list. Thanks, ladies.

  7. Thanks for stopping in, Joanne! I appreciate you joining us.

  8. Thanks for sharing your story with us, Nerine. It was a refreshing post and I'm sure we're going to hear a lot about you in the coming days.

  9. Lovely post. I adore the cover. Best wishes to you!
    -R.T. Wolfe


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