1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?
I started writing when I was about fourteen years old. At school we had to write poems about love. I thought it was corny as hell, but strangely enough I liked it. More poems followed, and soon I wrote my first SF short story. It was as bad as anything, but set the tone to get better and to grow. In my early twenties I read ‘Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn’ by Tad Williams. Those books changed my view of books forever, and because of him I started my first real novel.
2) What inspired you to write your book?
I love books with a serious romantic theme in them. That and conflict between people or civilizations. ‘Journey of hope and tears’ was written while a conflict was going on between the Ukraine and Russia, and the war in Syria. Those wars, and especially what ordinary people have to endure, I wanted to get into my story. When you see the news about those wars, it’s a far away story for most people, and a lot of people don’t think about it anymore the next minute. I wanted to make my readers feel what it’s like to be a refugee. What it’s like to lose everything and have to fight for what’s left. That way I also wanted to show how lucky we are in the western world.
3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?
What real love between two people means, because in recent years, real love only seems like something from times long gone, if we may believe TV. Which is a great pity, because is there anything more beautiful than love?
The second thing I wanted to give is to show that we need each other as humanity, and that we don’t have to be divided. Having a friend is much more pleasant than having an enemy, and yet we fail to live in peace.
4) What drew you into this particular genre?
Simple: my love for fantasy, SF, dystopian and romance stories. That and the inner warrior in me.
5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?
Well, in the book, Sabrielle is the goddess of everything in this universe. I think it would be very interesting to have tea with her. What would I ask her? I have some good questions, but if I write them down now, I’ll tell what happens in my next book, so I don’t think that’s wise. Maybe I would ask her to come with me to our world. There is still a lot of work to be done here. And to Jill I would just say: ‘it’s gonna be all right.’
6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?
Goodreads.com and Hebban.nl
Always honest reviews, whether it’s bad or good, you can learn from it.
7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?
Do it in the first place because you love to do it, and because you love to tell stories, and are fascinated by the writing itself. If you do it to get famous or to make a lot of money, do something else, because you will be disappointed.
That’s the truth, a bit harsh, but it’s true. I write during my free time, and I still have a fulltime dayjob (which I love too offcourse).
8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?
I am currently promoting the English version of ‘Journey of hope and tears’. Together with my partner Leen Lefebre (Soraia, child of the sea) I am forming a writers duo. All income of ‘Journey of hope and tears’ and ‘Soraia, child of the sea’ goes to ‘SameYou’, a charity dedicated to brain injury recovery awareness (sameyou.org).
And I’m also working on a story that takes place after Jill & Sam’s story.
Many of my Dutch-speaking readers were extremely curious about what will come after the story, and this year I started working on it.
It took a while due to lack of time and changes in my personal life, but I found what I was looking for to make the new story an emotional tearjerker again. If you like Jill, you’re going to love Lauren. And that’s all I’m saying 😉
About the Author
When an author writes about his characters, or about the magical worlds in which they live, his or her pen never gets empty. Ask an author about the background of his or her latest protagonist, and the next hour you’re guaranteed not to get a letter in between.
What could be difficult about writing your own biography, you might think?
The answer to that question is already written in the question itself: the ‘own’ biography. Most authors write about everything and everyone, but mostly not… about themselves.
But anyway, let me introduce myself.
My name is Dieter Ryckewaert (1984) and I was born in Poperinge, a small town in West Flanders, a stone’s throw from the Belgian coast. When I was about three years old, we moved with our family to Zonnebeke, where me and my sister had a carefree childhood. The house in which we lived bordered a field and a forest, the dream playground for every child of my generation.
Together with the children of the neighbors, we played outside, and risked our lives several times in the branches of the trees. The garden of the neighbors was separated from our garden by a nine-foot high hedge. In the middle of that hedge was a hole big enough to give passage to an adult person. On day one of our time in Zonnebeke, my parents wanted to close the hedge, so we had a little more privacy in our garden. Of course, that didn’t match our idea about the hole (us as in: me, my sister, and the three children of the neighbors). The hole functioned as a passage from and especially to the new playmates. So close it? No way!
Eight years later, when we moved back to Poperinge, the hole was still there.
Back in Poperinge I was first confronted with my ‘writing itch’ when we got the chance at school to work on a collection of poems about love. As a fourteen year old adolescent I found the idea as corny as it could be. Really, shouldn’t we be tough like men? Well, I gave it a chance… and it turned out that ‘writing’ was much more fun than I first thought. When the words flowed out of my pen (we didn’t have a computer yet), ‘poetry and rhyming’ became quite fun.
From poetry, it logically turned into short stories. And I remember my first short story very well. I was so proud of my little Sci-Fi work! In hindsight, the quality was way below par, but one has to begin somewhere, right?
Many short stories followed, and as the writing itch continued to rise, I ventured into my first ‘real’ novel.
Once I graduated, I wanted my writing to blossom further. Bringing new worlds and characters to life and sharing them with readers gives me enormous satisfaction. Not only that, but also the fact that stories with a positive note inspire people and give them a chance to escape from the – hectic or not – life.