Ronel Janse van Vuuren hails from sunny South Africa, home of guinea fowl, hadedas and pigeons. She started her writing journey a long, long time ago, learning the craft and building her imaginary world until she became an award winning author (still learning, still building, still dreaming).
What she writes (her own definitions, don’t freak out if you don’t agree, please):
She mainly writes dark fantasy.
“Dark fantasy is all about examining the human condition, looking at the consequences of actions and decisions, and how the beliefs we hold can change the way we see our world.” From an interview with Debs Carey.
It is a sub-genre of fantasy incorporating darker and frightening elements of fantasy. It is usually filled with an atmosphere of horror and dread. But Dark Fantasy isn’t all doom and gloom. It deals with the elements of fantasy/the paranormal in a way that studies the dark and frightening side of our nature.
She loves to write urban fantasy.
Conflict between humans and supernatural beings – usually in an urban setting.
Magic and weird stuff creeps in at the edges of a world where magic is not the norm. Most of the people in that world will not even notice the magic around them hidden in plain sight.
And sometimes low fantasy.
Where magical events intrude on an otherwise normal world.
Low fantasy obviously contrasts with high fantasy (think Lord of the Rings). It can sometimes feel less real than the world it is set in (ours). The lines between the psychological, the supernatural, the fantasy elements (usually monsters and a bit of magic) and what is real, blurs constantly to keep readers on edge.
The “low” in the genre depiction has nothing to do with the quality, only with the elements of the fantastical.
She also writes fairy tale retellings.
Various cultures may have the similar fairy tales (think Cinderella), but they are all different (just think of how Cinderella by Charles Perrault and the version by the Brothers Grimm differ). Retelling a fairy tale is about taking the original and putting a new spin on it – you keep the structure of the original so it can be recognised, but everything else is different. The most important part of a retelling: the reader must be able to identify the fairy tale that is being retold.
Her main focus is young adult and children’s fiction.
College Young Adult, aka New Adult, has characters aged 18-24.
“New Adult is all about figuring out who you are, who you want to be and what you have to do to get there. Some would say it’s all about the journey of becoming an adult: the trials, decisions, and reactions to things in life that has far-reaching consequences. Taking all of that into consideration while writing a story means deciding how you want to depict the world and what message you want to share about growing up.” From an interview with Debs Carey.
Upper Young Adult has characters aged 16-18.
Deals with situations and issues that the age group grapple and can identify with. Themes include: forbidden love, disintegration of families, cyberbullying, abuse, post-apocalyptic survival, death, making own decisions, etc. Though the innocence of youth should be protected, there aren’t many subjects that need to be steered clear of.
Lower Young Adult has characters aged 13-16.
Deals with situations and issues that the age group grapple and can identify with. Themes include: forbidden love, disintegration of families, cyberbullying, abuse, post-apocalyptic survival, death, making own decisions, etc. The innocence of youth needs to be protected even though these subjects should be dealt with: no graphic explanations, no need to explain the scene visually – rather use the character’s inner monologue, and some things can be left to the imagination.
Upper Middle Grade has characters aged 10-13.
These stories are focused on the adventures the characters can have. Though it still deals with situations and issues the age group grabble and identify with, it is usually masked in great adventure that gives the reader perspective on an issue and helps them to come to a suitable solution in their own lives.
Lower Middle Grade has characters aged 8-10.
All middle grade fiction is considered the golden age for reading as readers love series and like to see their favourite characters in new situations. This age group, though, will usually be fine with the same set of characters finding themselves in new adventures without too much growth happening from one book to the next (unlike the upper MG that thrives on books that build upon each other, the characters growing and evolving, and the story heading towards a huge climax at the end of a series). There are still issues that this age group has to deal with and it is dealt with by the characters in ways that make the reader see clearly what the character had done wrong/missed and should have done instead.
Young Reader has characters aged 7-9.
One story can be turned into several books to keep the reader engaged. There are (usually) a few black and white illustrations. The characters deal with issues the reader can recognise, sometimes in situations the reader can recognise, but in a way that leaves the reader wanting more adventure with this a) relatable character or b) character they feel blunders through everything or even c) the unlikeable character who somehow made it possible for the reader to escape their own reality and figure out their own problems and solve them at the same time.
But, no matter what she writes, there are always hints of folklore and mythology in her stories.
Folklore can be loosely defined as the traditional beliefs, customs and stories of a community that has been passed through generations via word of mouth. It includes mythology, fairy tales and legends.
You can get a FREE taste of her writing by going to your favourite online store and downloading The Fae Realm.
Check out these posts about what she writes and why she writes it:
You can also download my Writing Manifesto as a PDF.
If you want to know all about Ronel’s awards, just check out the Accolades page. But, you should know that she was honoured to receive the award of Fiction Writer of the Year in 2016 AND 2018 from INK: Skryf in Afrikaans.
As for her taste in books, you can check out her Goodreads reviews. For a general idea, her favourite series is, of course, Harry Potter by JK Rowling, followed by the Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr. She also enjoys The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer, the Black Magician trilogy by Trudi Canavan, and any book by Rick Riordan.
To get a good idea of how all of that has influenced her writing, sign up for her monthly newsletter and receive a free book and (secret) bonuses.
Connect with Ronel via:
Award-winning author Ronel Janse van Vuuren mainly writes for teens and tweens, though she is known to write mythology-filled short stories for anthologies aimed at older readers. Her dark fantasy works, usually full of folklore, can be viewed on her website and on Goodreads.
Ronel can be found tweeting about writing and other things that interest her, arguing with her characters, researching folklore for her newest story or playing with her Rottweilers when she’s not actually writing.
All of her books are available for purchase from major online retailers.
Really Short Bio:
Ronel Janse van Vuuren is an award-winning author of Young Adult and children’s fiction. She is also a Rottweiler pack leader, horse servant and chicken wrangler.
Learn more about Ronel:
Interviews and Guest posts
Zombies: through Folklore, Film and Fiction guest post on #FolkloreThursday
The Folklore of “Once…” guest post on The Writer’s Gambit
And learn more about me in my newest interview on NF Reads.