“When I was a teenager, I told my best friend that, one day, I would write down my dad’s life story. A complex family legend, in which happiness and tragedy and the unbreakable bond between my dad and my grandma are central. I have been asking my dad to tell me his story over, and over, and over again. But he had to turn 86 years old, and I needed to go on my own life journey, before I was ready to turn my dream into reality.”
Taking on the challenge
These are the first sentences of the Author’s note of the novel I am finally writing. On January 2nd 2017, I started interviewing my dad via Skype, because he lives in France and I’m in BC Canada. Today, 1.5 years later, with the tremendous support of my coach Nanda Huneman, who is a writer herself, my book is starting to gain serious shape. I’m writing in Dutch, which is my mother tongue. But I will eventually have the book translated into English and other languages too.
The story takes place in the Dutch East Indies between 1910 and 1956. It’s a different story about the Dutch East Indies you might have heard before. Because my dad’s family wasn’t Dutch. They were Austrians. Immigrants from Vienna. As a result he and his family were declared ‘dangerous Germans’ during WWII, even though they weren’t German, and had lived most of their adult life in the Dutch East Indies. My dad was born in Bandung, Java, in 1931. His roots were there. He had never ever been to Europe.
It’s an intriguing story, sometimes hard to wrap your head around. Especially when you’re of Dutch descent, as I have noticed through the reactions of my Dutch coach. I set a challenge with her: to have the first version of my book, complete with Epilogue, finished by the end of August. This post helps me to keep me accountable and reach my goal. I am determined to publish my book. And I hope you are going to read it! To be continued 😉