Thijs de Boer
What you think about inspiration? Do you wait for inspiration to come or you just write no matter what?
I let myself think it exists, but it is just a reason not having to sit down and do the work. There are moments when you have a sudden good idea, but every time that happened to me, I was searching for it, because I immersed myself in a story. If you are not searching, you won’t find it. Waiting can be good to empty your thoughts though and think in a new way. But you always have to put something in your head to get something out.
How important is the structure of a story to you?
It is very important. Even the most chaotic stories I write, I place every sentence where I want it. I am moving sentences for days. Months. Moving paragraphs. Moving words. I think after you have the story, the best part of writing is creating the best structure for it. A structure that makes the story come across in the best way. Structure is very important, but it is not a goal on its own. It is only used to tell the story you want to tell better.
Can you tell something about your characters?
Most of my characters are disillusioned. They are often younger people. Around late twenties, early thirties. Often with dark personalities and dark humor. For most of them, life has them beat. Sometimes something happened to them or they are just too weak to cope with everyday existence. It’s the moment when the mask of appearances and perfection comes off. When people stop being blasé and they find out they actually have deep and sometimes troubling feelings. The stories are mostly after that breaking point. When people are so low they act in an almost primal but pure way. They still have hopes and dreams. Mostly they are looking for love or a substitute for love. Or some other cure for pain. In their core they are good people, but in their weakness they often make really wrong decisions.
Which writers have influenced you, in your own language and internationally?
From most writers I read there is stuff that influences me. Sometimes it is just one sentence from a whole book that makes me want to write in a different way in the next story. Sometimes it is the theme in another (poorly written) novel. Internationally Douglas Coupland and Raymond Carver influenced me. Those were the biggest ones, I think. I have more favourites nationally and internationally, but naming one would mean I need to name like fifty of them.
What are the benefits of the short story in a relation to a novel?
You get to do more as a reader. It demands more from you, but it gives so much more back. The rewards are way bigger. I think a good short story leaves a big part of the creation of the story to the reader. For some readers that is too much and too difficult and they start reading a novel that gives you everything. That tells you how what to think and what to feel. Short stories give you a little bit. But you as a reader are more part of the creation of the story. That is why I like short stories.