Born in Delft (1969), I grew up in Pijnacker. Ever since my student days, however, I have been living in Leiden. I am married to Hamide Dogan, she is a translator of Turkish literature, together we have a 14-year-old daughter, Dünya. At Leiden University, I studied Social Anthropology, specializing in Latin America. For my graduation research, I lived in an indigenous Aymara-community village at the Bolivian altiplano at the shores of Lake Titicaca, for six months. Eventually I obtained my PhD in 2001 on a study of the Otavalo indians, an indigenous people in Northern-Ecuador, I then started to work for Djoser as a tour guide in Venezuela, Mexico, Guatemala and Belize, but also in Egypt. Thereafter I started to study again at Leiden University, this time World Religions. After also studying to be a teacher, I worked for twelve years as a religion teacher at a secondary school in Leiden. Since January 1, 2019 I am a full-time writer, currently under contract to publisher HarperCollins Holland.
I have a great fascination for the figure Jesus and for (early) Christianity, which I read a lot about, from dissertations to popular scientific work and from religious thrillers to esoteric literature. Having read the Da Vinci Code, I started reading more similar thrillers, which made me notice at a certain moment that these thrillers rarely or never take place in the Netherlands. That was the moment that I decided to write one myself. As people say that you should always write about what you know, I decided to let my story take place in Leiden. You then automatically find the apostle Peter, the patron saint of the city. Leiden is called “key city” after Peter’s keys.
Seven titles have now appeared. The “Leiden trilogy” with St. Peters’s Mystery, St. Paul’s Labyrinth and The Pilgrim Conspiracy in which archaeologist/historian Peter de Haan and historian Judith Cherev play the leading roles. My Latin America trilogy, The Sacrifices and The Genesis Key, is set in Bolivia and Peru respectively. The third book is set on Easter Island. Together with Jacob Slavenburg, I wrote The Isis Secret and Eve’s Complex. We will publish a third book, about Mary Magdalene.
People often ask me: do you have a certain message that you want to convey in your books? I am a teacher in heart and soul, who also happens to come from a real teacher family. My wanting to teach is therefore very strong. By the means of my books I do not only want to tell an exciting story that entertains people, but I also want my readers to learn something from it, which could be facts about the parallels between Christianity and other religions around the Mediterranean region at the time. But I also try to provide a new perspective on a story, like looking at a new way at the creationstory in the book of Genesis.
For me, it’s about the power of stories in general. I think it is always about the message in a story, the layer below it. Something doesn’t have to have truly happened to be true. You could watch a film and be completely turned upside down because of it, while that film is actually completely made up, using actors who have just learned their text by heart. However, apparently you recognized something in the story that appealed to you, that told you something valuable about life.