Even though the world changes, Deon Meyer stories remain timeless


“I often tell my children that cooking and writing stories are exactly the same: You create something that you want to give to people to enjoy,” reckons master storyteller and family man, Deon Meyer, who incidentally also loves to cook himself.

On a rainy morning in Gauteng, Deon talks to RNews about his latest book, Leoand two television series, Devil’s Peak and Plan B, which was inspired by his books. His wife, Marianne, who accompanies him on the media visit, sits by as Deon talks about his characters, storylines and successes.

Family most important

What one cannot miss in the conversation with Deon is the particular attachment he has to Marianne, their children and grandchildren.

As with Dark drift said Deon Leo also dedicated to Marianne. When asked why he decided to do this, Marianne takes the liberty to say herself what it means to her.

“I didn’t know about that,” she reveals. “When Deon does something like that, it’s always a surprise for me, and a great privilege. I appreciate it.”

For his part, Deon adds that Marianne plays a special and indispensable role in his life and career. “Without her, I wouldn’t be able to do nearly what I do. She takes care of me so terribly well and I love her terribly.”

Then Deon on Leo worked, he also often relied on his children’s advice and guidance. He wanted to keep the younger characters believable in his book’s use of language.

“Marette and Bekker Vorster, who cheered up all the young people in the book’s language” (p. 494).

“Three of our children fall into that age group. One is still at university, and two of them have already finished their studies.

“Many times I will listen carefully to how they speak. Other times I’ll just call or WhatsApp quickly and ask how someone their age would say this or that and what words they would use,” he elaborates.

Wayward characters in Leo

In Leo readers are once again drawn into the well-known detective duo Bennie Griessel and Vaughn Cupido’s inner world of mysteries and police investigations. There are a few events that require this duo to keep their heads in the midst of absolute chaos.

To finally bring all these storylines and plots together requires months of travel, research, careful planning and world building. In this phase of the process, Deon prefers to work isolated and undisturbed, because he really wants to get into the heads of his characters and become, as it were, part of the fictional world he creates.

However, Deon’s planning is sometimes disrupted when his character is self-willed and wants to take a different course. He says that it is especially Bennie who sometimes came to surprise him.

“You know, it’s an interesting process. When you start to develop the story you don’t take into account the personality of your characters, and when the story and characters come together, sometimes it’s quite a thing.

“When you let Benny loose in this world that you have created, then there are probably things that he does not want to do or certain things that he will do that you did not predict, and then you have to accommodate them.

“This makes the writing process so interesting for me, because it often brings story twists that you didn’t foresee, and then you have to consider whether it makes the book better or not.”

In the end, Deon adds, writers still have full control over the story and the characters. “Everything that happens has to ultimately serve the story, whether you’re moving with your character or not. The story is the heart and soul of the book.”

Fun Plan B on the way

Almost 30 years since Who plays with fire, the first suspense novel from Deon’s pen, appeared, he continues to sharpen his writing pencil with each book. He says growth is an inevitable aspect of any writer’s work.

“Writing is like anything that takes practice. The longer and the more you do it, the more lessons and techniques you learn and hopefully become more skilled over time. I have learned an awful lot over three decades. In fact, if you don’t learn something over such a long period of time, you are stupid,” jokes Deon.

Who plays with fire appeared in 1994 with NB-Uitgewers and kykNET has just announced that Plan B, A brand new series inspired by this story has already been filmed and is expected to be broadcast in 2024.

Although Deon of the versions of Tertius Kapp’s scripts for Plan B saw, he was not that involved in the text and production process, because at that stage he was busy working on Leo to work. However, he is excited about the series and believes that viewers will also enjoy it.

“It’s going to be a terribly fun series. The script is great entertainment and the cast is brilliant in my opinion.”

Bennie Griessel’s TV debut

“I really like Hilton Pelser as Bennie Griessel Devil’s Peak. He captures the psyche and spirit of Benny very well.

“I receive e-mails from people who say that this is not the Benny they had in mind, but the problem is we all see a different Benny. Everyone’s imagination is different,” says Deon.

Benny was initially a background player in some of Deon’s first books, but in 2004, with the appearance of Infanta took his place in the spotlight. Meanwhile, he became one of the most popular characters in Afrikaans literature.

Infanta ‘s English translation came out in 2007 with the title, Devil’s Peakappears, and a TV series of the same name is currently being broadcast on M-Net.

“The story was written more than 15 years ago and obviously you can’t just use it like that, because the whole world has changed. That which was relevant in terms of Infanta/Devil’s Peak, is no longer relevant today. Retelling the story just like that would not have made sense.”

Deon says it is also interesting to him that the British screenwriter and producers of Devil’s Peak decided to make Bennie’s character much younger. However, it is a practical consideration that makes sense.

“The producers hope that this is the first season of a bunch of Benny books that will be filmed. So they want to make sure that they start working with an actor who is at an age so that in 10 years he is not too old to play Benny.

“I am very proud of the production with Jozua Malherbe as director, and on top of that, everyone involved in the series is South African. The acting and direction are brilliant and we have here a product of international standard.”

Devil’s Peak ‘s final episode will be broadcast on 26 November at 20:00 on M-Net, DStv channel 101.