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Most Read Interviews

All TopShelf Interviews


1. Congratulations on the success of your debut novel, Storm at Keizer Manor, which has also been a Reader’s Favorite Book Award Winner, a Best Book Awards Finalist, and a New Apple Medalist Winner. How has such an incredible reception to your book affected your goals for writing more novels in the future, if at all?

I’ve loved Storm at Keizer Manor since the idea for the story came to me. I wanted to share it with the world and hired a professional editor. She too fell in love with the story and helped me publish it. Seeing Storm’s success changed me as a writer. I’ve become much more serious about my writing and can’t wait to publish my second novel, Eagles in Flight. This story is very different from Storm at Keizer Manor. I hope people will love Eagles in Flight as much as Storm.

2. Is Storm at Keizer Manor a standalone book in a world of its own, or will there be a series for this novel touted as “Outlander meets art”?

Storm at Keizer Manor was meant to be a standalone novel. My readers wanted a sequel. I’ve already written half the story. Will there be other installments? I hope so. I would like to think there is much more to Annet’s story.

3. With a pitch like “Outlander meets art”, which is perfect to describe this book, what made you want to write Time Travel Romance as the genre of your first novel?

I wanted to write a lighthearted novel and was actually inspired by the Back to the Future trilogy with Michael J. Fox. Outlander is more dramatic, with a lot of details. The quote “Outlander meets art” emphasizes that difference perfectly.

4. You’ve said that your inspiration for Storm at Keizer Manor came from Dunedam in the Netherlands. Can you give us a deeper insight into what specifically inspired this novel?

I was born and raised in the Netherlands, in a town close to the dunes that I call Dunedam in my novel. In the town’s square is an old pump where centuries ago, people used to get their drinking water. I always wondered what life would have been like in those days, without all the modern conveniences we’re so used to, and how we would adjust if we all of a sudden had to live like that. I think I would probably have the same struggles as Annet, my heroine. Wouldn’t you?

5. You’ve also previously shared your love of travel and exploring nature, and that you save writing for the winter months, “when the days are short and cold and the evenings long.” Have you ever tried writing outside of those “seasonal” timeframes?

My husband and I work in the tourism industry and were always busy from early spring to late fall. In the winter, everything quiets down, giving me time to relax and write. Fortunately, we’re not as busy anymore as we used to be. My writing future looks bright. 😊

6. How do you think this schedule for writing has impacted the way you write? Do you write whatever you can while the “days are cold and the nights long”, then leave the manuscript alone until the next winter season? Or do you still dip into your projects occasionally in between your busy times and adventures in your camper?

All my manuscripts sat for years. In the meantime, I thought about them, sometimes making notes or small improvements. I like to believe that, like a fine wine, they matured and improved over time.

7. The process of writing a book beginning to end is different for every author. Tell us a bit about your process—outlining versus “pantsing”, writing routines, the perfect circumstances. What do you need with and/or around you to get you into “the zone” for writing?

When I start a new story, I already know the ending. Then I sit in my comfortable leather office chair at my desktop computer and start writing. Filling in all the details is the fun part. I get so engrossed in the story that I forget about time and everything else.

8. Your characters in this novel are strongly written and well fleshed-out, and readers get an insight into each of them the moment they’re introduced (like the perfect picture immediately given of Annet and especially her mother in just the first few pages). Where did you find the inspiration for your characters in this book? Are any of them modeled after people in your own life?

My husband and I meet all kinds of people in our line of work. They’re hilarious, pitiful, admirable, crazy, smart, ignorant, lazy, interesting, and amazing people. Honestly, I could write a book about my experiences with them. I could never do that, because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Many of these people become characters in my stories.

9. Do your characters come to you during the writing process itself, or do you work at sketching them out before setting pen to paper?

My characters come to life during the writing process. This was doubly true when I wrote Annet’s scenes in Storm at Keizer Manor. Some of them made me laugh out loud. I especially loved writing the scenes when Annet was in the convent, and her encounters in Dunedam, with the prissy ladies at the pump, the woman who chases her down the road, and how she gets in trouble orating about dental hygiene. For me, those situations were hilarious and I had so much fun writing them. All I can hope is to convey that feeling to the reader.

9. Is there anything in particular within Storm at Keizer Manor that you hope readers will take away with them after reading the book?

Many people don’t want to give my book a chance. They say they don’t like time travel or don’t read romance novels. This saddens me, because Storm at Keizer Manor offers so much more. It offers a snapshot of factory work, hygiene, disease, clothing, and small-town life in the 19th century. It talks about the invention of the sewing machine, Greek mythology, paintings, nuns in a convent, missing persons, police work, and genealogy. Every paragraph, character, location, and aspect has a part of me in it. It’s a work of love.
All I hope is that each reader will enjoy the story and maybe contemplate what they would do if they were suddenly transported to a world without electricity, cars, and pizza. How they would deal with 19th-century moral judgements and social expectations?

Thank you so much for all your questions. I enjoyed answering them.