Because who am I? I am also 'only' a children's book writer, Annet Schaap often thinks, but one with many awards to her name. Lampje (2017) marked her debut as a children's book writer. This work was awarded the Nienke van Hichtum Prize, the Woutertje Pieterse Prize, a Silver Griffel, the Golden Griffel and the Belgian Book Lion. It was also the first time the Nienke van Hichtum Prize was awarded to a debut novel. Lampje has already been translated into more than 25 languages worldwide. Lampje not only appeared in book form but as a performance. From December, the television series will appear on NPO.
So this is clearly an overwhelming success for Annet Schaap. She had already made a name for herself as an illustrator, but being a writer - and a successful one at that - was new to her. So were the invitations to the many fancy parties full of glitter and glamour she was suddenly invited to. Annet Schaap: "I'm not into that."
She likes to be alone. That is why for years, the illustrator's role suited her well, hiding while drawing behind well-known writers like Jacques Vriens and Francine Oomen with whom she worked at the time. Book after book became a success. Annet's illustrations graced the covers, and the handwriting of 'Hoe overleef ik ...' is also her signature. Yet during the times of the series' overwhelming success, she was left relatively alone. "'Doesn't that feel out of place?', friends often asked. 'No way,' I invariably replied. I like it that way.'"
Where she does appear and is a frequent guest is during Children's Book Week. She rushes from place to place while performing plays of her works, reading to children, doing newspaper interviews and giving readings to adults.
...to Writer in Residence
During that busy period, as Writer in Residence, she teaches at Radboud University every Thursday. The theme of the short story: Fairy Tales, a theme where imagination is allowed to be infinite. Fairy tales can also be seen in her own oeuvre, most recently with The Girls (2021), or her other book, The Tree with the Ear (2019). Where did her inspiration for that book come from? "I myself walked in the forest and imagined how all the animals go to a certain tree to have a moment to tell their story. I also drew inspiration from the fact that we are all just busy, busy, busy. So are parents, while children like to tell how their day was."
She herself has a 13-year-old son, Jonas. For the attentive reader and connoisseur of the How Do I Survive series (in Dutch: Hoe Overleef ik-serie), a familiar one from Francine Oomen's oeuvre. "That's right," she laughs. "But that was a coincidence. My Canadian husband's grandmother was an important person to him. Her surname was Jonas. And luckily, Jacques made it a fun character in the series!"
As she teaches, it "takes some getting used to though; the last time was 20 years ago at theatre school" she sees a few potential writers introduced to the short story for those who really want it. And for her, that is also the key to writing success.
Are you interested in the 'Writing like a Writer' course? The course is given every year by the — at that moment — Writer in Residence. The course is part of the Master's programme Literary Studies. Read more about this study programme via the button below!