I’m Dutch, from Amsterdam. But my favourite city is Beijing. I also lived in Bangkok and Paris for a while. Christian Boltanski, a Frenchman, is one of my preferred artists. And when it’s quiet, I like to listen to Beth Gibbons from Portishead. Who wouldn’t?

My background is in journalism, apart from studying French Literature for a while. And contemplating History of Art. As well as Swedish. I clearly didn’t know what to do with my life at the time. It still bothers me. I like to ask questions, though. Things I don’t understand. About the world. Other people. Myself…

And, recently, about death.

In between, I wrote Angel Baby, a play for television. I also worked for a radio station, but being largely among voices wasn’t how I liked the world. I wasn’t into news either. Working as a reporter for a prestigious newspaper in the Netherlands got me fired almost right after I started.

For a while, I did whatever came my way. I wrote a book about cancer, and ghostwrote another on plastic surgery, I worked as a sales person and a sex-line operator. I wrote profiles of famous American film stars for a men’s magazine, and edited an English-language tourist magazine on Amsterdam.

In the meantime, I went into psychoanalysis.

I ended up at a weekly, writing pieces about the rich and the poor. And everyone in between; prisoners, Neo-Nazis, addicts, cult followers. I got two books published (under the name Jantiene Van Aschs). The first one, “Intermezzo,” is about a psychiatric clinic for youngsters. Why were they in there, and I wasn’t? The second book, “The Dance Of The Lost And Lonely,” is a selection of stuff I’d written over the years. Crazy events and unhappy people, mostly. 

As they say in France: “Les gens heureux n’ont pas d’histoire…” (There is no story in happy people…).