About Gilbert Van Hoeydonck

I have worked in education, child protection and mental health. These days I work as an independent writer. My interests include Zen, language, history, productivity, walking, humour, music and climate change mitigation. I am married and have two adult daughters. I love animals, especially cats and goats.

remembrance day

Aside

It is an anniversary of sorts: 102 years ago, on 10 September 1914, my great-grandfather, Aloïs Delcon, was killed in his pub in Haacht (Belgium) by marauding German troops. His 16-year-old son fled the scene in a hail of gunfire and collapsed in an asparagus field with a shoulder wound.

In Fate and Asparagus (Kindle version) I tell the story of that encounter and the events that ensued and cast a shadow over our family for years to come. See the Fate and Asparagus page of my blog for other versions.

aloisdelcon4

secular prayer for dark times

 

Nations line up, bristling.

Everyday symbols imbued with treachery.

A new spring heralds years of destruction.

A sunflower field receives fallen angels.

Nine dashes mark isles of discord.

Lessons learned at great cost

forgotten or disregarded.

Oh, reckless race.

There is no wisdom in these times.

 

Young men in black

detonate themselves

in markets airports subways.

Young men in uniform

aim rockets bombs drones.

Hellfire. Predator.

From Gaza to the Hindu Kush,

from Dhaka to Dallas,

there is no love in these times.

 

We live in fear

and turn against our brothers.

Our lives diminished

as we point out the others.

Our priests are on trial,

and we are led by fools.

There is no path for these times.

 

Too many homes

imploded into rubble.

Too many children

washed up on the shore.

Too many on the roads

with fevered dreams,

garrotted by the past.

Too many futures foregone.

 

So let us read old books

of fantasy, love and caring,

of gardens moist with dew.

Let us rise against the black tide

of hatred and despair.

Let us build, create and heal.

That is the wisdom for these times.

 

Let us look into our hearts

and remove those scabs of fear.

Ungird your angry armour

lest you turn into what you fight.

There is more to unite us,

on our fragile blue planet,

than to place us apart.

That is the love for these times.

 

Let us link hands

with our brothers and sisters.

Show them our love,

listen to their pain,

share our bread.

For violence feeds off itself

until it is quenched by love.

That is the path for these times.

 

Start right now.

 

 

© Gilbert F. J. Van Hoeydonck

20 July 2016

emma donoghue’s room: terrific or terrifying?

2016-04-29 15.25.03This is a novel I dreaded reading. The story of a young woman imprisoned in a single room, told from the perspective of Jack, her five-year-old son, who was born into captivity and has never seen the outside world.

The person who recommended it to our book group had introduced the novel in terms of its philosophical implications, but I could only think of the depravity underpinning the plot. So, was I able to overcome my bias and finish the book? Continue reading

liane moriarty: the husband’s secret

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Photo: Wolf Soul (2007) by Romel, under Creative Commons licence.

In the opening scene of The Husband’s Secret, Liane Moriarty introduces Cecilia Fitzpatrick as “a school mum and part–time Tupperware consultant.” Happily married, mother of three, memories of her younger self stored in the attic in neatly labeled plastic containers, checking off tasks as she moves through the day. As readers we know that so much control and organisation constitutes hubris; it is rattling the cages of the gods of narration. Continue reading

fate and asparagus now available

AloisDelcon4What happened to Aloïs Delcon, my great-grandfather, on 10 September 1914, when German troops overran the Belgian village of Haacht?

As I grew up, my grandfather’s wartime stories became darker and more complex. One day he told me a story he had never even told his wife.

Little did I know at the time that his tale would continue to dog me with surprising insistence, and that moving to the other side of the world would bring me closer to my family’s history in an unforeseen way…

Continue reading

self-publishing: seven stellar starting guides

© jijomathaidesigners 2015

© jijomathaidesigners 2015

At the start of this year I decided to look into publishing some of my short stories. I signed up for Euan Mitchell’s Digital Makeover course provided by Writers Victoria at Melbourne’s Wheeler Centre and started reading up on how to produce an e-book.

Now, half a year later, I am about to self-publish my second short story and I intend to go down the e-book path again when Resilience, my debut novel, is ready for publication.

The hardest parts about self-publishing are the writing and the marketing. The bit in the middle, creating and uploading an e-book, is quite enjoyable and relatively stress-free.

There is so much advice out there for anyone planning to create an e-book and I would like to share with you the books that I found particularly helpful.

Continue reading

awkward moments with authors: meeting harry mulisch

I had just started working in the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet in 1988 when a former colleague rang to let me know that Harry Mulisch would be visiting the University of Melbourne on 19 September. Harry Mulisch (1927–2010) was one of the towering figures in postwar Dutch literature and my colleague, knowing how highly I thought of Mulisch’s oeuvre, was kind enough to invite me to join the party for lunch at University House. I was blown away by the invitation and immediately went to see my supervisor to beg for a day’s leave. So far so good… Continue reading

first snow goes live

At 1,160 words it is a very slight short story. It evokes a special morning in the life of a schoolboy in Belgium in the 1960s. And yet its publication feels like a milestone to me. This isdesign2 the first time I have published fiction since I was peddling stencilled poetry, way back in the 1970s. The years in between have been filled with writing annual reports, policy papers and guidelines. The world of stakeholder management, deliverables and competitive tendering. Benevolent in its vision but orwellian in its language. At the start of this year I decided to become a full-time writer. The great ‘tendering’ of looking back in, reconnecting with people, emotions and the past. An indie author – break out the quinoa, I am coming home! Continue reading