After reading Trackers by Deon Meyers and posting my review I had an interesting comment from Maxine of the excellent Petrona blog. She asked:
"I love your list of 'trackers'! I wonder if the author had something like this before he started writing, and determined to include one of each in his novel?"
Her comment prompted me to email Deon. He graciously answered that question and a few more. My questions and Deon’s answers in bold are in the following email I received from him:
Thanks for the privilege. Here goes:
1.) In my review I set out 26 different types of tracking that take place in Trackers. Did you plan to feature so many different ways of tracking in the book? If you did I would appreciate knowing how many methods of tracking you inserted as I am curious as to how close I came to finding all of them. (Maxine from the book blog Petrona inspired this question through a comment on my review of the book.)
I wish I was clever enough to do that much detailed planning. My intention was much more modest: to simply draw an analogy between animal tracking and habits, and the human equivalents. My source (Louis Liebenberg’s ‘The Art of Tracking’) was so rich in material that it did the rest on its own.
2.) I thought Trackers was a perfect title. Who chose the title and how was it selected?
The original Afrikaans title was ‘Spoor’, which, in its narrowest sense, means ‘track’. But the influence of African environment on my mother tongue (and the close interaction with that environment by the first speakers of the language) gives the word a deeper, wider meaning for which there is not English equivalent. Because I have three English publishers (
, Canada and UK ), the translated title is a collaborative decision between all of us. ‘Trackers’ was the closest we could come to the original. USA
3.) Were you / are you a tracker in rural and/or urban
? South Africa
I grew up on the edge of a small town on the high veldt of the
, and spent a lot of time in my youth in the bush, hunting and fishing, so I know the basics of animal tracking. And aren’t we all trackers in the urban jungle, even if it is only to hunt down a bargain … ? North West Province
4.) In P.D. James’ book Talking About Detective Fiction she said her books start with a location. In my review I summarized her approach:
She said a setting will be in the inspiration. She gave the example of standing on the
North Sea coast and looking to the south and seeing a nuclear power plant. The book grew from that location.
Could you tell me how you start a book?
I start book development with a story idea, or a curiosity about something, and each book’s origin is very different. With Trackers, it was my fascination with the dictatorship of the genre’s traditional structure, and the interesting links between organised crime and terrorism. Setting is almost incidental at first.
5.) Do you have a length of book set in your mind when you start to write? If not, when in the process do you determine length?
I don’t determine the length at all (or think or worry about it much) – each story has its own length, to be revealed in the writing process.
6.) There are quite a few South Africans of Afrikaner descent living in
. My family doctor grew up in Namibia and took his medical training in South Africa. Might Lemmer and Emma ever travel as far as Saskatchewan on an adventure involving former South African residents? Saskatchewan
You never know, although I doubt it. South Africa is such a dynamic, dramatic and dynamic backdrop, and it has become part of what my brand as an author represents …
I appreciate Deon’s thoughtful answers and look forward to reading more thrillers from this superb author.