Gaby den Held


As long as I can remember I writes stories. I have written poems and participated in a poetry platform, Poetry Alive! I also have wrote culinary articles, restaurant reviews and travelogues (2002-2009). I didn’t think of writing a novel. Until a traumatic event knocked me over... 
"You write stories, do you?" a friend said. "Why don’t you write it all up and do something with it?" That "something" has slowly grown into a story in which the sometimes harsh reality is mixed with a fairy tale. The story is about Ángel Flores who is tragically in love with CHARLIE DARK. 

The foundation was laid for my personal style: succinct and clear prose with a complex storyline. The atmosphere is imaginative and fairytale-like with a penchant for the extravagant. But how bizarre and grotesque the stories sometimes may seem, they always have one foot in reality, like in a magical realist painting. Deceptively lighthearted and naturally heavy themes are covered as gender dysphoria, sexual fluidity, sexual harassment, suicide, perpetratorship and victimhood.

Maan: not exactly the typical teenage love story

After I wrote Charlie Dark I began working on my second novel MAAN (Moon). This would ultimately be my debut as a published novelist. The theme is self-determination and individual freedom, wrapped in a story about an impossible love. As a main character he chose the trans woman Maan who wants to make her own choices on all aspects of life. If Maan is still a boy he lives with his eccentric mother, Saskia, the widow of the wealthy merchant Lambert Humalda, in a big house on the edge of the Frisian Dantumadiel. Rick is in love with the beautiful Maan, but becomes confused when he tells him that he is really a girl.
Reünie: a tragicomedy about revenge

I decided to keep my firstling, Charlie Dark, in the drawer and began a new novel, a tragicomedy about revenge: REÜNIE (Reunion).

Dorian Pots arrives on a sunny May day in Diepenheim, the city of his youth. He intends to start a new life with his old puppy love Jasper van Vliet. But then he sees Titus Balkenhol on the terrace of cafe Boonk, wearing a blue polka dot dress. This willy-nilly old school chum, the clown of the class, tells him: "See you tonight at the reunion of our old school class." A reunion? Why does Dorian knows nothing about it? His former classmates have more surprises in store.

Charlie Dark: love that turns into obsession

​And now finally the time has come for my first manuscript and my most intense novel: CHARLIE DARK. I wrote it in 2010-2012 and I have reread and edited it in the summer of 2018. Then I decided to present it to my publisher for publication.

In the bars, streets and parks of Amsterdam and Paris, the story is told of a sensual love that turns into an obsession. Angel thinks he recognises in Charlie his childhood friend and falls desperately in love. Is he really him, or will Angel's fantasy world collide painfully with the harsh reality?

A dystopian novel and a childhood story

The plans for the coming years are diverse. There is a manuscript ready with a story set in an ever hurtling train: ALEX STANOVSKY. The eponymous protagonist has just been hired as personal assistant to the ninety-five years old Mrs. Beyer-Garratt. She is named the Queen and is the founder of Typhoon, a seemingly ideal society that has lived in the train since 1939. Everyone knows their place, uselessness is nonexistent and order is maintained with an iron fist in a velvet glove. But will Alex ever be able to leave here?
I am also collecting ideas for a youth novel. This will be about a ten year old girl. The character is based on the train manager Karin Tender from Alex Stanovsky, but in a young version. Karin feels like a boy as well as a girl. She lives with her father and his friend in a house with a beautiful garden. Her mother camps in a caravan in the garden. Karin wants to be a train conductor. One with a mustache!

MAAN and REÜNIE are published by IJZER (2015, 2017). 
In October 2019 CHARLIE DARK has appeared by the same publisher.

First there are the images
First there are the images, then the words. Before I write I see the fragment for me as a movie scene. It’s no surprise that I’m particularly influenced by the movies. I love the films by Alex van Warmerdam, Roman Polanski, David Lynch and most of all: Federico Fellini. I want to create a slightly caricatural dream world that gives reality a brighter color. That does not deny the ruthlessness of life, but places it in a different light. In that world I introduce tragic clowns. Anti-heroes with panache. Outsiders who were bullied in the schoolyard as a kid. Because they have red hair. Because they don’t play football. Because they are boys who feel like a girl or vice versa. But they have rebounded. They go through life with their heads held high. They remember that statement of ballet legend Sonia Gaskell: If you fall, always make something of it.

Inspiration enough as the list below indicates. But during the writing process all my heroes are far away. Then I'm alone with my writing, the computer or laptop screen. Then it doesn't matter where the inspiration comes from: the story unfolds, the film is going to spin. And the reader? He or she will make his or her own movie. That's for sure.

Mikhail Bulgakov, Arnon Grunberg, Louis Couperus, Alfred Kubin, Yevgeny Zamyatin, Louis Couperus, Michel Faber, Edgar Allen Poe, Fernando Pessoa, Jan Potocki, Jules Amédée Barbey d'Aurevilly

Federico Fellini, Davod Lynch, Peter Greenaway, Guillermo del Toro, Alex van Warmerdam, François Ozon, Sebastián Hofmann, Roman Polanski. 

J.S. Bach, Sigur Rós, Patrick Wolf, Diamanda Galás, Olivier Messiaen, De Staat, Philip Glass, Wim Mertens, Dead Can Dance, Perfume Genius