Travel through words and worlds

Tineke Van der Eecken's writing journey started with fictional stories she wrote about the farm animals she grew up with in Belgium. She studied drama and performance skills at the Academy of Word in Sint-Niklaas, and had a passion for the study of foreign languages. 'I learnt nine languages before I moved to the Anglophone world.' It wasn't until much later, at the age of 35 that she took to writing professionally.

'I needed to have something to write about,' she says. 'When I arrived in Australia, after having lived in Africa for nearly ten years, I was ready.' Tineke wrote non-fiction and had stories about Aboriginal Australia and about Zambia published in the Belgian media and she was a regular voice on the Flemish radio. 'I lacked the confidence to write creatively in English so I attended every workshop I came across. I also joined a creative writing group run by writer and editor Michele Drouart.'

In 2003 Tineke wrote the first pages of Cafe d'Afrique, her restaurant in the Zambian capital Lusaka. 'I knew the story would give me the narrative framework to talk about Africa and how it had changed me.' In 2008, a small publisher in London accepted to publish her manuscript. 'It was a great start, but they did very little to promote the book. I decided to self-publish a brand new edition of the book together with the music of the Cafe d'Afrique, which came out in 2012.'

A second book tells her story of an expedition through Madagascar she undertook with her husband in 2007. 'One of the most challenging times of my life, both physically and emotionally.'

'In the meantime, my appetite for poetry returned." The passion for language and poetry in her family was passed on through Tineke's maternal grandmother and her mother Nelly Maes, a poet but more known for her career in politics.

'I feel I have come full circle, having experienced many life-changing events, and being able to write about them, now gives me the confidence and basis to play with language.' Tineke writes and performs, often weaving different languages into her poems.

She takes you on a journey through the world.