Q&A

Where are you from?
I am a global Citizen, but geographically I am from the Netherlands. My friends and family are spread out and my work takes me to many places. I have been lucky to not just travel for holidays, but able to live the live of a modern day explorer.

What’s your story?
From a young age, my parents instilled a passion for traveling and exploring in me. Born in the Netherlands, my family moved to Switzerland when I was 9. I spend a year in the U.S. at 16 and a year in the Netherlands at 17, where I started my first company, selling Ostriches and equipment for Ostrich farming. That started my passion for getting in on the ground floor and even though I went on to a safer route, getting the appropriate degrees and working in large corporations, I invested in several startups on the side over the years. My brother was the one that got me into ICT, a move that I never regretted as I have not been bored a day in my life.

Why are your stories important?
I see my stories as a way to influence a larger audience about important topics such as women in technology. Today, only a marginal amount of women chose that field and even fewer women make it into management. Initiatives around the world for gender equality often have an adverse effect as they push women into jobs they may not be ready for or even interested in, and they push companies to not put the best person in the job, but chose according to gender.

I believe, if we show girls and woman (and their families) the power and potential and also the fun side of technology, this will entice more women over time to chose a career in technology.

The timing is right to bring strong female characters to the screen in other genres and mess with stereotypes. I change stereotypes, because I show everyday women, women that use technology in new and interesting ways. I wish to create stories that bring insights to the way technology can positively affect the world so young women can relate to realistic and inspiring characters. Hopefully, this will level the playing field.

But isn’t that already being done today with characters like Supergirl, Wonderwoman and women being the geek in crime shows?
Yes. They all help. Both in gaming and in action movies, women take the role of the geek. Increasingly, superhero movies incorporating female heroes and empowering them to save the world the way Japanese Anime has done. In Japan there is even a sub-genre called Girl Action Movies that focuses on women as the lead character.

Yet most of those still stereotype. Go and compare the characters. They are either rigorous secretary looking, tatoo’d rough girls that cannot get a man, or women that hide who and what they are. I believe that we need to give more diverse role models.

In gaming, more games for girls emerge. They started with the classics. Games that allow girls to shop. Now, there are games that are designed for girls and yet give them the power to conquer their game world.

Movies can influence through storytelling by building a connection to that targeted audience and show them that they too can take a leading role in the technology industry and it does not mean they have to impersonate a type. No, what the industry needs is all kinds of women – diversity, that is what is needed to bring technology to the next level.

Why did you start writing?
I write because the world we have does not meet my standards. Creative writing gives me the opportunity to make it anything I want it to be.

What is the first Story you ever wrote?
I wrote a story about a trip to Switzerland, making it much more entertaining than what the trip was really like (11 hours in a car with 3 older brothers and my sister). A fictional travel journal. I was 8.

What experiences from your life influence your characters?
Every single one. Nothing is sacred, nor useless.

Does Dialogue come easy for you?
Nothing is easy. It all is painful.

What is your daily writing routine?
I love early mornings. The pain of getting up at 5am is evened out by doing what I love. It also puts me in a good mood to then start my working day as long as I still have that day job. Any time I have where I then don’t have commitments or my body demands sleep is then spent writing, or at least thinking about writing. In deadline situations, however the routine is much simpler: I write 24/7 if necessary.

How do you overcome writers block?
I use writing techniques, free writing for example. Either way I just write, no matter how bad it is, just to have a flow. Usually I end up throwing that away. Long dog walks, Dictaphone in hand, sometimes help. Then, on some days, there is no overcoming.

Growing up what movies or stories inspired you to start writing?
Ever since I can remember, I created my own stories in my head, before I went to sleep. I can’t really say where I had the inspiration from. But I read a lot. So much that I kept a list of books I read by the time I was 11, so that I would not fall into the trap of buying a book I already had read. Indirectly all of those will have inspired me in some form.

How emotionally involved are you with the characters you create?
I am always emotionally involved with both my protagonist and my antagonist. Until proven different, I always want to believe that the antagonist can turn good and that my protagonist gets the job done. Usually I develop quite a connection to at least one of the supporting characters. After all, they are connected to the protagonist journey. They give the protagonist a ‘raison d’être’. Some of my characters I hate and that is what they need.

What is the most important aspect of building a great character?
Tics. Flaws. The background of how they got to be who they are says a lot about why they do what they do and why.