Monday, 14 March 2011

Brussels and Beyond

Today was the first day of my vacation and I had to get up at 6am, what’s wrong with this picture? That’s nearly a whopping two hours earlier then when I have to go to work!

I went to Brussels this morning to interview VRT anchorwoman Annelies Beck about her debut novel Over het Kanaal. I only ended up being a little late seeing as Belgian trains never tend to be on time when you have an appointment. When you go to Brussels to do some shopping, there’s an abundance but when you really need to get there on time, you have about a snowball’s chance in hell.

Anyway, we had a cozy little chat about journalism, literature and the novel of course which was just about the time my tape recorder broke down and I cursed for the 18th time that morning.

Over het Kanaal was based on her great grandfather’s voyage to Glasgow before the First World War started. It’s based on actual events and features a wide array of characters that were also based on real people he came into contact with at the time. The main character however, is a girl called Marie and not Beck’s elusive great grandfather. It’s basically a coming of age story set in troubled times and featuring an eclectic mix of characters. Although not my regular fodder, it wasn’t that bad and a remarkable first attempt at fiction. And more importantly, the second Dutch book I’ve read this year! Progress if I do say so myself.

After Beck, I had spot of lunch with Helen Grant, YA author and friend, who I’m trying to get to the store to educate us Belgians on the blossoming genre that is YA. Followed by the necessary stops at Sterling Books and Waterstones without which no trip to Brussels is complete.

Tomorrow I’ll be heading back to Brussels to spend some time at the mother ship, Ackroyd Publications. And if I’m lucky, I’ll be able to squeeze in some reading and relaxing on the train thus accomplishing my initial holiday goals.

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