Tuesday 26 May 2020

Dwaalstories: A Covid-19 post

My native language, Afrikaans, has some wonderful words. One of them is DWAAL, which defies translation. It is a gothic word used for wandering dream-like, without purpose and with nameless longing. It evokes images of walking through abandoned mansions at night, down endless passageways. It has undertones of the mystical and paranormal. It also refers to life journeys, which are off the beaten path and may end in tragedy. No writer captured this haunting quality better than Eugene Marais, one of my favourite writers. His anthology, DWAALSTORIES – (Tales of Getting Lost), is peopled with characters off track – lost - and has its origin in the oral tradition of the San people. In his story "Die Towenares", (The Sorceress) he writes: "Sy wag nie meer nie. Sy maak nie meer nie. Sy hoor nie meer nie. G’n een roep haar van ver." ( She no longer waits. She no longer makes. She no longer hears. No one calls her from afar.)

These are "dwaal" sentences. In these days of Covid-19, I think we all "dwaal". We may not wander restlessly through gothic mansions or get lost in the veld following "dwaalligte", (imaginary, phantom lights), but there is this dream-like quality about our existence. Much as we try to impose structure and cheery normality, put rainbows in windows, we cannot shake the sense that we are adrift. We are stuck in our rooms, but our minds roam far outside. And at night when we close our eyes to sleep, we get lost wandering labyrinths or vast deserts: losing our way, even as we tread the same paths over and over again. "Dwalend."

Image credit: Keith Alexander, "Kate’s cupboard".

Monday 16 May 2016

And the Cover for "Keeper of Light and Dust" Looks Like This...

Hi everyone,

Well, here it is. This is the cover, which Dutton has chosen for Keeper of Light and Dust and which will appear in a book store near you come April:

Thank you all very much for your feedback. It was an interesting experiment! I received comments from MySpacers, the members of the discussion board on my website www.natashamostert.com, and I also asked for feedback from people offline.

As I expected there was a split along gender lines, but not as sharp as I had imagined there would be. The great majority of men chose the cover above, although there were some guys who professed to being rather smitten by the pink girl in the cover below:

My publishers always tell me men don't read (??) and that writers have to target - and please - the female readership.

They should therefore be happy when I tell them that the black cover seemed to have met with approval from the majority of the women in my mini poll, as well. However, many women didn't like it at all and the pink cover received almost as many votes as the black. This was my publisher's first attempt at a jacket concept and at the time I liked it. However, I didn't think it was edgy enough and suggested the designer go for a little flash and ring the girl's eye with a kind of phosphorescent glow! Cool, yes? Maybe not. This suggestion did not fly and I got the distinct impression my publisher thought the idea cheesy. I then wanted them to move the tattoo from her shoulder to her cheek but that received an even frostier reception.

My publisher's second attempt was the tattooed girl and the cityscape background:

What surprised me was how few of you voted for this cover. I had thought all women wanted to be Angelina Jolie in The Wanted - and all men wanted Angelina Jolie in The Wanted. Here on MySpace there were a few takers but overall this cover scored really poorly and received some actively hostile comments from some of the guys. (We had a rather spirited discussion about this on my discussion board.)

Thanks again for participating, everyone. I am really grateful to you for taking the time. And speaking of time, I was wondering if I might impose on you again. Season of the Witch has been nominated, along with 49 other titles for the "Spread the Word: Books to Talk About" Award. The titles on the list are British but voting is open world wide as part of the World Book Day 2009 campaign. I need votes! So if you have a minute to spare, may I ask you to please go to the Spread the Word website (see details below) and vote for yours truly? Thanks to all of you who have already voted for me. Very much appreciated indeed. I would also be in your debt if you could spread the word to other people who may be interested. The organisers are encouraging people to place links to their blog pages and websites and to leave a comment along with their vote. However, a vote alone will do nicely.


Until next time! Take care.