Koert Koster’ (born in Hoogeveen, The Netherlands in 1973) was first published in 2012 with a collection of poems, called ‘She is my mother‘. After that, the following titles appeared, among others: ‘Reflecting surface‘, ‘Broken world’ and ‘Wonderfully beautiful little human‘. By now, Koster has written twenty books. His book ‘Give me your fears‘ is being translated into three languages. Koster studied theology and philosophy at the Vrije Universiteit and the Universiteit van Amsterdam. It’s about time to interview this remarkable author. Care to read along?
First of all, congratulations for having your book ‘Give Me your fears – You will get courage and hope in return’ is translated into three languages: German, English and French. The editors were wondering how you got that done. When will this process be finished? In which countries will this book be available?
Thank you for the invitation. The fact, that my second from last book is being translated into German, English and French at the same time, is very special to me. It’s a fact, that I have been around on Facebook for several years now. In that time, I posted a lot. Through that, the group reading my messages grew ever larger. Some of my readers became my friends, even to the extent that – one after the other – they spontaneously offered to help with translating one of my best publications. I posted regularly about fear as a theme. Apparently the subject feeds the imagination. Of course this is not strange, in a time of fear – and scaremongering, especially when it comes to the threat of terrorist attacks.
Those who offered to put their time and energy into this book, are not the least to do so. They are experienced language specialists, who have been translating for years, already. Two of them are even ‘native speakers’, as that is called.
He entre translation process is expected to be finished by the end of this year. The German translation is done, already, the English translation is coming along nicely, and the French translation is being set up.
It is difficult to say, in which countries my book will appear for sale. At any rate in Germany, England and France, possibly also in countries where these languages are native, as well. It depends on who will publish the books and how far their distribution channels reach.
Where did you get the inspiration for this book?
In part it came from experiences in my work with people around me. I see a lot of fear in my surroundings. My own life experience has played a part in my ‘thoughts about fear’. And let us not forget people of earlier times sharing their stories. In the Bible I see many people who are struggling with their fears. They have to deal with it and try to find an answer in a religious way in order to parry their fears. The personal belief in God to many Bible authors and Biblical characters seems to be the way out of the ‘house of fear’. I want to learn from their experience. With that, I notice how the God from the Bible goes on a journey with the people, through fear against fear. It is as if God fights along with the people to gain victories.
The ultimate Example is Jesus Himself, who was in mortal fear at the garden of Gethsemane. Therefore, He knows human fear better than anyone else. How He dealt with His fears back then, can be a source of inspiration to people today, for me as well.
How did the writing process work out for you?
It was a positive experience. Sometimes it was slightly confrontational, especially by examining a personal experience in more detail, here and there, which made me gulp, at times. This is about a minor experience, that once grabbed me by the throat. Yet, other than that, it just is fun, lots of fun. Writing comes natural to me and I do have quite a way with words. The reader might find this in my style of writing and might benefit from it. For it is nice, if the reader notices that I have fun writing. Anyone can read my books, although some Biblical knowledge does help, of course.
You (mainly) write about Christianity. What is important for writing about a religious subject? What do you pay attention to?
To me, it seems important that, as a writer, you are aware of your own position. This holds true for every writer, by the way. Neutrality is a beautiful goal, but it can never be reached, entirely. I was coloured by my upbringing, education, church, (life) experience, etc. That is not necessarily a bad thing. But it would be, if I were unaware of it. The fact, that I am unable to remain neutral and objective, leads to the fact that I do not claim a monopoly on the truth. I do not supervise reality and I always have some blind spot or other. My knowledge is partial, my thinking is limited.
Anyone writing about a religious subject, should constantly be on their guard to not assume the position of: ‘I am right, my position is correct I am a ‘friend of God’, (whatever that may be) and that guy is an enemy of God.’ Taking positions is great, but should never be at the expense of other people, or those who have different thoughts. Modesty is becoming for any writer.
What influence does religion have on your (private) life?
It cannot be underestimated easily. I wake up with it and go to sleep with it. My entire thought process is religiously oriented. I cannot do without it. And, even if I could, I will not break free from it. Believing in God is a major part of my life. God is the lead character in that. And even if I wanted to break away from Him, for instance because of an immeasurable number of questions that I would address to Him, I would be unable to break away from him. He keeps me busy, and that is fine with me.
You have 20 books to your name, which of them do you think is the best?
That is hard to say. The collection of poems, titled ‘She is my mother – Autumn collection’ has a huge emotional value to me. I wrote these poems with reminiscences before, during and after my mother passed away, in October 2012. The book describes a little bit of my very personal history with her, as the son to that one, special, mother.
‘Tears in heaven – mourning in a perspective of eternity’ is the is de pastoral – and Biblically founded – version, regarding the loss of a loved one.
I think I would pick those two, as they are the most lived and devised books. With commitment. I also believe, that I am pastorally strong. A book such as ‘Give Me your fears – you get courage and hope in return’, infact also is a pastoral and uplifting book. Actually, in all books the Biblical theological reflection and foundation is visibly present.
Are you working on a new book? If so, what is it?
There are several themes waiting for me: ‘Paul as a stranger, refugee, persecuted, oppressed, imprisoned, tortured and killed person’(progressed very far), ‘the suffering God and the suffering human’, ‘Friendship’, etc.
Where does the inspiration for your books come from?
Out of my own life: experience, life experience, news, science, other books. But also from the Bible, as an inexhaustible source of knowledge and wisdom.
Which author do you yourself admire?
Willem J. Ouweneel, a Dutch biologist, philosopher, scientist and theologist, was important for my spiritual and mental development. I think, that the way in which he can explain difficult subjects in an easy manner, is extraordinary. And, besides his erudition and scholarship as a professor, he is the straightforward Christian, who wholeheartedly loves The Lord, Jesus Christ, and wishes to serve Him. We must give him credit for that.
Which book did you read last?
‘Friendship through the ages’, by H.E.S. Woldring (a professor in political philosophy).
What are your hobbies?
Reading, writing, ;-), swimming, cardio, fitness, riding a motorcycle and playing chess.
Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
If you have read a lot, already, do not keep on reading, but start to write. And be yourself, doing that, be original!
Koerts published works are available at Bol.com
Translation by Hans Zwetsloot
Read the Dutch version of the interview here!