Saturday, November 12, 2016

So Your is From Belgium ... Featuring Bieke @ Quite the Novel Idea

It's time for this month's So Your Character is From Another Country! This is a monthly or bimonthly segment where I interview lovely volunteers from around the world to give you a firsthand account of being a citizen of their respective country. I'm hoping to encourage international diversity, break stereotypes, and give writers a crash course on how to write a character from these different places on our planet. If you haven't checked out last months's So Your Character is From Slovakia ... be sure to hop on over there and give it a read!

The most I've seen of Belgium is in the Legend of Tarzan, and prior to that I frankly knew about it mostly from French fries, waffles, and the fact that I have some coins from there. Bieke definitely sheds some light on things!

Disclaimer: The content below may be culturally shocking to some. Each of these posts are as uncensored as possible to preserve the authenticity of the cultures of each of the interviewees.

(None of the Images are Mine)

My name is Bieke, friends usually call me Bee. I'm 25 years old and from Belgium. I currently live in a city called Hasselt, which is fairly close to the border of both The Netherlands and Germany. I spend my time devouring books and sometimes I try to write them too. My characters live under my bed and usually yell at me to start writing and then don't shut up for weeks. It's quite exhausting. When they're quiet I also enjoy watching movies and several TV-shows. 

What do you feel is unique to your country? Landmarks? Celebrations?
Waffles! When people think Belgium, they usually think waffles. And chocolate. And beer. Basically delicious food and alcohol. That's a good thing to be known for right?

Belgian Waffles
Tell me about your country's environment. What are some of your favorite places?
I really love the city where I live in. It has a lot of old buildings and a lot of history that I don't know about. My favorite place in this country of mine? The library, I think. They don't have most of the books I read, but it's big and there are books in it, so I feel right at home there. I also love hanging out in the center of the city with all the cafes and shops. (See pictures) The main languages here in Belgium are Flemish and French. Flemish is the Belgian version of Dutch, which is my mother tongue. There's also a few German parts but I don't speak German myself. As for me, I also speak a teensy tiny bit of French and, obviously, English. I dare say English is becoming my personal main language these days. 

Tell me about your country's food. What are some of your favorite dishes?
Well, I'm not actually that familiar with most of the typical Belgian food. Though every year on New Years day, my family does make the same dish and I know that's a common one for this area. My aunt always makes rabbit with either prunes or homemade applesauce. It's delicious. Except for the prunes. Those are gross. It doesn't have a special name, I think. Just Rabbit & Prunes. 

Konijn met pruimen (Rabbit with Prunes)
Tell me about any different speech patterns in your country. Slang? Idioms? Words for things such as “biscuits” instead of “cookies”?
Oh yeah there are lots of different accents in this country, but I'm not familiar with most of them. I prefer to speak normal so everyone can understand. Hah. XD I actually don't really like Dutch and I don't have any favorite Dutch sayings or anything. I'm American at heart, I think.

Describe briefly a regular day in your country. 
That's easy. I wake up, take care of my morning chores before I have breakfast and relax until I have to cook and do dishes in the evening. I don't have a job so I have lots of free time!

How does your country compare to others, especially the States since my audience is primarily American? Environmentally? Politically? Culturally?
Well... We have a king and queen? They don't do squad, but we still have them. Well, no that's not true. They get paid to go on vacations, I guess that counts as doing something. I'm not really aware of how different Belgium is though. I know we were the second country that approved gay marriage after the Netherlands. Does that count? 

King Phillipe & Queen Mathilde
What are some stereotypes about your country that irk you?
There are stereotypes about Belgians? I guess we aren't all drinking beer and eating waffles, chocolate or french fries every day. Other than that I wouldn't know what stereotype you could have in mind for Belgium. 

What media portrays your country badly be it a movie, a book, or a TV show?
I've heard a lot of references to Belgium in movies, but none that weren't right in some way. I guess Belgium isn't really a popular country to use in movies and stuff. The only one I know is In Bruges and I haven't seen that one yet.

What media portrays your country well be it a movie, a book, or a TV show?
Again, no clue. Of course there are movies made here in Belgium, but I don't watch those. Same with books and TV shows. We have our comics of course, like TinTin and stuff, but I don't care for those. We had a movie a few years back that was nominated for an Oscar. No... We had two. One year we had Bullhead and last year, I think, we had Broken Circle Breakdown. I've seen the first and it was amazing! Am I failing at representing my country right now? xD

Who are your top three favorite characters native to your country in books, movies, or shows?
Oh yeah, I'm failing big time because none come to mind. Ahaha, I'm so bad at this. I'm sorry, seriously. I don't have any favorite characters native to Belgium. 

Thank you, Bieke, for this very informative post! I hope everyone enjoyed reading it. Come back next month for So Your Character is From Germany ... Featuring Fraise Fruitrouge!

Are you interested in participating in this project? Slots for Australia, Canada, England, Scotland, New Z
ealand, the Philippines, Liberia, Algeria, Thailand, Peru, China, Slovakia, and Belgium have been filled, but if you are from any other country, shoot me an email at howellvictoriagrace(a)gmail(dot)com.

Do you have any Belgian characters? Did this inspire you to write a Belgian character or set a book in Belgium? Are from this or been to this country and you have further input? Feel free to share! Do you have any questions for Bieke? Be sure to thank them!

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