First Language(s): Dutch
Second Language(s): English, French, German, Czech
Born in the Netherlands, Margreet Dietz left in her mid-20s to become a journalist. She reported for Bloomberg from Brussels, Toronto and Sydney, and was a copy-editor at the Australian Financial Review. Based in Squamish, she is a graduate of The Writer’s Studio at Simon Fraser University. Her work earned an Honorable Mention in the 2019 Awesome Sports Writing Contest.
What was your favorite book as a child?
As a toddler, I loved Goudhaartje en de Drie Beertjes—Goldilocks and the Three Bears, my mom has often told me. Before I could read, I begged her to read it to me so often that I learned the entire story by heart and would recite it word for word with her. I still have the colourful book. As a young teenager, I was given a copy of Ik Heb Geen Naam (which translates as I Have No Name) by Dagmar Hilarova en Miep Diekmann, which I loved and read several times. I also had a favorite publisher, Lemniscaat; I always looked for their distinctive logo in my local library because their books were usually great.
Do you remember the original reason or motivation why you started writing creatively?
Two main reasons, I'd say. First, I wanted to tell my maternal grandmother's story and, later, share my experiences as a distance runner. All the computers I've owned since my first big chunky IBM back in the mid-1990s had at least one folder named Oma, referring to my maternal grandmother. As the size of my computers shrank, the documents in my Oma-folders grew bigger. One held a 50,000-word story I wrote in November 2010 when I participated in National Novel Writing Month for the first time. Knowing that this would only be a draft that might never see the light of day proved productive, as was the idea of writing “fiction.” Making up stuff felt liberating for a Bloomberg-trained financial reporter. My NaNoWriMo project, titled From my Mother, was shaped in the parallel stories of a marathoner tackling her first 100-kilometre ultrarun, and her maternal grandmother who fled Czechoslovakia in the aftermath of a Communist coup d'etat. It was not my grandmother's story. But it made me really think about what happened when and how. It prompted questions I had not thought to ask before—the more I thought about them, the more I wanted to know.
What was the most adventurous or thrilling thing you ever did/experienced?
After completing a Bachelor's degree in Marketing, I got my first real job in that field at a unit of ABN AMRO in the Netherlands. Within two years, I worked up the nerve (and the savings) to quit and move to Brussels, Belgium, to go back to university for a Master's degree in international and European law, while looking for a job as a journalist which seemed the most practical way to become a writer. A year later, I started at Bloomberg.
Do you listen to music while reading or writing?
I never listen to music while writing; I've tried but found it too distracting. And while I don't mind listening to music while reading, I generally prefer the silence then as well.
Journey into my Grandmother’s Tongue
Issue Fall '19