Inge Shelperord, author of The Muidhond:

Looking for the beauty of Islam but also feeling attracted by its dark sides. Writer and forensic psychologist Angie Shelperord (1973) He wanted to understand how that could be. And in the stories of girls she told Het licht in de stad, she also recognized herself as a teenager who was literally walking around and looking.

Has your view of writing changed after success? Helper dog?

That is: since the arrival of this book I dare to call myself a writer. Before that, I had been writing for a long time but had only published non-fiction. It was very unreal. I guess I didn’t really realize what had happened until years later.”

for your new novel The light in the city I have spent years researching Islam, converts and jihadists. How did you apply?

The first idea for this book arose when I did character research as a psychiatrist for TA, the terrorism division of the prison system, in 2017 and 2018. The caliphate in Syria and Iraq was still in place at the time and many young men were suspected of having connections with the caliphate and therefore with the Islamic State. These personality tests were so much fun. Especially the stories of the girls I spoke to stayed with me. Sometimes they were converts to Islam, sometimes girls who had been raised in Islam but often came from families where religion had never played such a big role. They took their religion much more seriously than their parents, and wanted to treat it differently. More stringent. The girls’ motivations for wanting to travel to the caliphate were very diverse. For example, because in Holland they did not feel they could fully propagate their faith, and had a naive hope that things were perfect in the caliphate, strictly according to the laws of Islam. and help their “sisters” who were persecuted by Assad. But the longer the caliphate existed, the more images were shown on television of the atrocities there. This must have attracted them, but they weren’t always open to that.

I found all those different impulses and feelings fascinating, I wanted to do something with them. When I got the idea to write about this, I stopped doing my psychological research there. I don’t want to use the people I research psychologically as research material for a book. Then I started reading a lot about Islam and about ISIS, and I had many conversations with people who were knowledgeable about both subjects. I took a crash course on Islam on weekends, talked a lot with female converts, and also took an Arabic course – especially to see how hard it is to learn the basics! So I did a lot, and found it very interesting.”

Where does your participation in this topic come from?

“When I talked to these girls on TA, and in my conversations with young transgender people, I would sometimes think of myself as a teenager. Not that I’m the type to join an organization like ISIS, or travel to the caliphate, but I was looking a lot. And also very curious.” I asked. Questions about everything and I read a lot, also about religion. I myself come from an atheist family, but, or maybe just because – teenage rebellion? – religion attracted me. I was sometimes a little jealous of religious people, like a Muslim school friend. Because they have an extra dimension In their lives I did not have the kind of warmth, belonging, protection and love from a higher power.”

Why should it be a book?

“Out of my long-range curiosity and restlessness, I was also in my teens, just like Sophie, literally walking around and looking. She would spend a lot of time on the subway and travel across town, and I would often sit on the streetcar and walk around town. I came from a chic white neighborhood that I found Boring and dead suddenly as a teenager, and I wanted to know what else was there. Sometimes I would take the streetcar on purpose to go to less “good” neighborhoods to see what it was like there. And my friend since then, the only Muslim at school, also lived in such a neighborhood “The worst”, but wonderful for me, since everything was different. I think the main thing I wanted to write the story at the beginning was to discover for myself how these lines touched me, and to sympathize with a girl who wants to convert. She seeks the beauty of Islam, but is also attracted to Its dark sides. I wanted to understand how that could be.”

How do you explain 16-year-old Sophie’s alleged infatuation with Israa? the recruit for ISIS?

Sophie’s father was a criminal lawyer who died a few months later at the beginning of the book. He always told her that the extremist ideas and behavior of the youth he advocated had nothing to do with their religion, Islam. He himself was not religious, but he had a deep interest and love for Islam. And he spent a lot of time talking to the young people he championed. Now Matt and Sophie have so many questions and feelings that she doesn’t know what to do with. If extremism has nothing to do with Islam, what does it have to do with it? How is it possible for young men of her age to leave her hearth and homeland for the caliphate? And why was her father so deeply involved with these young men? She is also jealous of it. In a way, she herself is fascinated by the violence, and the straightforward worldview of these jihadists, while at the same time abhorring it. She will find Esraa, her father’s former client, online to better understand her father and herself.”

After years of research, can you understand why young people are converting or considering joining an organization like ISIS?

“Yeah. And of course those are two very different things. I always understand conversion. Only I could never do it myself. And as a teenager it frustrated me sometimes, just like Sophie. Why do other people feel the relief and purposeful presence of God that I don’t? I think it would be It’s nice to have that in your life, especially if you live in a confusing and lonely world like Sophie – fortunately it was less bad for me as a teenager. Joining ISIS is a different story. That goes a long way. But in practice, in research I have often seen young people make this choice impulsively. Impulsively. These radicalizations often happened very quickly, sometimes in a matter of weeks or months. It’s all on the Internet. It’s not for nothing that they were young, dissatisfied, sensitive people For that matter. It’s still in development, it’s often grumpy and angry, and if you think you’ve found a way online to give meaning to your life, to give your anger an outlet, things can go fast.”

You write so realistically and emotionally that the book got under your skin. How and when did you discover that you could write this way?

“Thank you. I don’t know exactly, but I know I’ve always been writing and I want to write. I think it’s always been a way for me to try to empathize with other people, to empathize with other people’s lives. As a kid I always wrote letters and diaries and comics, and when I was 18 I tried to write a book for the first time. Of course it didn’t work. Later on, I kept trying but found it hard to keep my spirits up. I needed a sounding board, structure in my writing. Then I went to Schrijversvakschool. Helper dog It was my project for graduation.”

Helper dog filmed. Is that with The light in the city Could it happen do you think?

“I think it’s something unique, as a writer, to experience having your book made into a movie. And that this happened with my first book, is quite special! I don’t think I’ll ever experience that again.”

Besides being a writer, you are also a forensic psychologist. Basically how do you see yourself? And how do you know how to collect things?

I believe that both the desire to write and investigate Criminal Minds stems from the same source. A very great curiosity about what drives people, and about both the differences between people and the similarities that are always there. There are similarities even between myself and the most “evil” psychopath I could ever meet in my line of work. I want to understand how this is done. In my work as a forensic psychiatrist, I write reports, so anyway I see myself primarily as a writer.

For a long time, I tried to do both: writing a few days a week and working as a forensic psychologist a few days a week. But it also leads to a lot of lost time and a lot of frustrations because I always have to switch, which is hard. I’ve been doing it differently for a year or two. I work a little for a long time and then take three or six months off sometimes and start writing full time. Then I stay in that writing rhythm, that works better.”

IIs there a new world you would like to dive into for your next novel?

“I haven’t discovered it yet, but I haven’t looked for it either. There is so much interest in the world that I think something will cross my path again.”

be fond of?

We are giving away 3 of Angie’s books. Click here for a chance.

About the book

When 16-year-old Sophie loses her father in an accident, she feels lonelier than ever. Her father defended young Muslim extremists as a criminal attorney. He said their violence had nothing to do with their religion. But with what? In an effort to get close to him, Sophie throws herself into a paper about jihadism. She also befriends fellow Afghan and Muslim woman, Zala. Fascinated by the mysterious beauty of Iman Zala, it hurts her more and more that there is no God for her. Sophie’s search for where she belongs makes her see not only her father, but herself in a different light. Who do you feel close to? With Zala or Israa, her father’s former agent who joined ISIS?

In her second novel, Inge Shelperward takes the reader into a world unknown to many. Based on years of research into jihad among young Dutch men, converts’ perception of the world and her work as a psychiatrist with suspects in a prison’s terror section, she succeeds, just as in her internationally acclaimed debut, Muidhond, at getting superbly close to the skin-to-character sneaks Unusual.

(The light in the cityAnd the stage, 22.50 euros)

About the author

Inge Shelperord (b. 1973) is a psychologist, book reviewer, and writer. She works as a forensic psychologist at the Peter Pan Center and has published in NRC Handelsblad, Psychologie and Crossing Border magazine, among others. After the success of Muidhond (2015), she is now presenting her second novel with Het licht in de stad.

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