Well here we are, as I promised to you all pen enthusiast, pen collectors, readers, writers, calligraphers, artist and more, it is my pleasure and a privilege to share with you all our first interview as Bstudio Style, very interesting, yet fun and a gratifying experience to have get to known better what is behind the mind of a pleasant and talented man like André van Hooren.
You might have seen him or follow him through his Instagrams accounts @wherepenmeetspaper , @adrianus.writer and @iro.haz
I hope you enjoy as we did this outstanding interview done by Mariana Briones our collaborator based in Miami, Fl.
André van Hooren
André van Hooren is a Dutch author of short stories & poetry, a Haiku enthusiast, an avid notebook and pen collector and a regular contributor for LitStream Magazine. He recently founded the instagram platform @iro.haz to share his ideas and love for writing.
A former copywriter André made a career as a consultant/client director, the last twenty years working at Willis Towers Watson, a global professional services firm in people & risk management.
From his home in Zurich he shares with bstudio his favorite authors, most prized writing possessions, obsession with the perfect ink and paper, and why there is nothing better than writing with a fountain pen.
Writing has always been my main thing. Everything about it. The paper, the pens, the art of handwriting, but also the various forms of expression in writing. I have practiced journalism, written essays, created long copy (annual reports, official bid books) and started writing literature and poetry a little over a decade ago. I am constantly searching for how best to express myself, what form suits me best. I’ve worked on a novel, created a collection of short stories, and occasionally created poems.
My themes are the male-female relationship and the related feelings of longing and abandonment, for which I have been inspired, of course, by everyday life, but also by great storytellers in music (Bob Dylan, Townes van Zandt), arthouse films (Richard Linklater, Francois Ozon) and literature (Proust, Kundera, Philip Roth).
The first novel that really touched a nerve is in fact a sequel by the Dutch writer A.F.Th van der Heijden, it’s called De Tandeloze Tijd. I read the first 5 volumes in one sitting during the summer of 1997 in Greece. I will never forget the moments after I finished the last line, the shock I felt, the knowledge that you can make fiction out of an ordinary life, that you can stop time, create a life in width, bring love to life in words, was overwhelming to me. In retrospect, it was my handbook for fiction writing.
During the same period, I saw the films Bridges of Madison County and Before Sunrise, both of which proved to be real eye-openers in the telling of romantic stories with open and diffuse endings. But it wasn’t until I read On Chesil Beach (Ian McEwan) that I knew what I wanted to write myself, a novella, a “slice of life” story, in which you can read their whole background and personality of the protagonists.
After three attempts to write a novel about two ordinary people, who met as students and see each other again 22 years later, I switched to short stories, for which I could easily use all the material I had collected about that fantasy couple. The story In the Dunes, for example, featured in the spring issue of LitStream Magazine is a spin-off of the novel.
At the moment I prefer to write short stories, but that is also due to lack of time. In a short story you can leave a lot open, leave it to the imagination of the reader, which automatically creates a bit of suspense. In the short stories I make connections between the main characters, my favorite themes, but also the place of action, places where they meet.
Perhaps it is more honest to say that I practiced Poetry all my life, but without the conviction that it was good enough. Of course, I could see that it was better than the average rhyme, but it’s quite something to read a poem you’ve written yourself out loud, or have others read it. It feels rather like posturing.
The most poetry I’ve learned is from singer/songwriters like Bob Dylan, Townes van Zandt and John Prine. Maybe it’s because in a song you are forced to get the rhythm right. Or that the music makes the rhythm. Either way, rhythm is everything to me, lyricism, beautiful words, flowing phrases.
Bob Dylan’s Boots of Spanish Leather is a wonderful example of what I am trying to convey here (especially when you hear it sung as a duet by Mandolin Orange). But also If I Needed You, a song written by Townes van Zandt and covered by many.
Haikus, and lately Black Out Poetry, are simply ways of finding rhythm in a format (haiku) or in an existing text, from which you then black out just as much until a poem remains.
I can only write good poetry by hand, on paper, because I need to feel the rhythm in my hand, to see it grow like scribbles in a notebook (or even on the edge of a newspaper). For this reason, I now start everything I write by hand, which has given me a minor obsession with fountain pens and notebooks. I am constantly searching for the optimal combination, the best nib, the best grip, etc. And since I can unfortunately afford to buy them, I own a collection of about 50 fountain pens, of all shapes and sizes.
If I had to choose two, it would be the Mont Blanc Marcel Proust and the Nakaya Writer, the latter for its smooth writing, for its simple design (even a bit zen), but also for its name of course. The MB Proust is downright beautiful and writes remarkably well. I normally start writing with the Nakaya and then make edits with the MB Proust.
Whereas with pens I have many loves, and use much of my collection regularly, I am very outspoken when it comes to paper – Midori’s MD Paper is simply the best. I’ve used it in many forms, but ‘my every day carry’ is a B5 in a goat leather cover, which has aged beautifully. It is probably the thing in my possession that I am most attached to.
And let’s face it, what’s better than writing with fountain pen on a piece of paper. That being said, I became a self-proclaimed advocate of handwriting, which led to the conceptual idea of a writing café, which can take various manifestations, including turning your neighborhood café into a writing café, by simply jotting down notes there (while talking, drinking coffee, and reading a newspaper).
I would also encourage pen makers and sellers to present their fine products in a café environment rather than a store, a place where you can try out different nibs and inks on a variety of papers before making a purchase, a place where you can have a decent coffee.
To create a platform for my ideas, I opened the Instagram account iro haz, which means as much as writing house – the house in which I feel most comfortable.
Interview by Mariana Briones
“If I had to choose two, it would be the Mont Blanc Marcel Proust…
… and The Nakaya Writer
More of his writing instruments collection and writings,
You can follow André van Hooren and iró ház in this links,
About Mariana Briones our collaborator
Mariana Briones is a Mexican US based journalist and producer. She has published articles for magazines including Elle, Marie Claire and Cine Premiere, and has worked as line producer for Canal + and Television Espanola among other networks.
Throughout her career she has interviewed over 100 international personalities including Sir Anthony Hopkins, Richard Gere, Julia Roberts, Clint Eastwood, Diane von Furstenberg, Bradley Cooper, Alex Wang and Oscar de la Renta.
Based in Miami Mariana is now a special editions editor for Ferraez Publications of America and a freelance PR constant. She recently launched Mariana Basso, an artisanal line of gold and silver plated accessories and decorative objects made by silversmiths in Mexico City.