In a nutshell, The Namaqualand Book of the Dead is a story about obsessive love, and the lengths Chloë, a young woman, will go to find out the truth behind her lover’s death. It’s also partially a travelogue, an inner and outer journey. Set in South Africa, the tale unfolds partially in the sometimes harsh but mostly beautiful Namaqualand, in a small West Coast village called Lambert’s Bay. I hope to share some of the magic of the landscape to those who wonder about this southern African region and its people.
One place that isn’t nearly as magical as our West Coast, is Sunrise Lodge. This guest lodge is based on a real venue in Cape Town, a pay-by-week “backpackers” (and I use the term very loosely) in the city. A friend of mine used to board there and it’s the arse-end of accommodation in the Mother City. It really is as bad, if not worse, than how I’ve described it in the novella. The lodge frightened me deeply, and it’s one of these buildings that beg for some sort of literary memorial. The people who live there are either refugees from central and northern Africa, or they are people who have nowhere else to go but down.
My chosen settings begs for some sort of supernatural oddities, and while there is a paranormal element to this tale, I don’t place a huge amount of emphasis on creatures. I’ve always wondered about writing a story from the point of view of someone who is largely ignorant of the supernatural, and that’s where Chloë comes in. Her world slowly takes a turn for the strange, with a growing realisation of the horror happening around her. On top of that, I’ve always fantasised about how supernatural beings would behave in South Africa, with all its sunlight and already precarious social situations.
As always, I feel there aren’t a hell of a lot of paranormal stories in non-US settings, and I feel South Africa has a lot to offer readers in terms of an exotic environment with enough touchstones of familiarity (we are a Westernised African nation) so that readers will not be completely out of their depth with some of the terms.
So, if you’re looking for an adventure in Africa, my novels offer just that, with enough weirdness to satisfy those who’re after things that go bump in the night. And, if you loved The Namaqualand Book of the Dead I have more planned. I recently finished an urban fantasy novella entitled What Sweet Music They Make, which I’ll be revising in March. I can say this much: my vampires don’t sparkle, and they’re generally bad for your health.
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