Sophie van der Stap is a successful Dutch author, known for the bestselling Girl with Nine Wigs
Sophie is 21 when she is told she has cancer. She writes a book about it, Girl with nine wigs (2006), which not only becomes a bestseller in the Netherlands, but also reaches the charts internationally. 'Meisje met negen pruiken' is the story of a young woman fighting her cancer with the help of her nine wigs. The book has sold more than half a million copies and has been made into a movie.
Shortly after the publication of her debut, she moved to Paris, where she stayed for eight years. Feeling at home abroad, Sophie left for New York in 2015. She loves the big, anonymous city and its freedom but increasingly dwells in the silence of nature in her mind. Inspired by a community of free-divers she follows through her phone screen, she begins a new story, The Girl And The Shark. It has become the story of a woman who feels more at home under the surface of the water than above it, who feels safer among "her" sharks (because calculable) than among humans (because unaccountable), and who saves many sharks from protruding fish hooks in their mouths. The woman in the story really exists.
Since then, Sophie and her stories only dwell in nature. The sea, the forests, the mountains, the desert or the sky, all these environments give her the landscape she loves best, that of a language without words, the animals, the strange. She has turned her stories into small, illustrated booklets, half of the proceeds of which go to protecting/saving the animals and trees she writes about. These booklets can be ordered through her own website.
Sophie still tells with verve and humor about her time as a patient, about how to live versus survive, but now her story has been supplemented with anecdotes and reflections from nature. Diving with sharks is one of them, another thought turns to trees, because a healthy forest is like a big city, with a dense population density, but unlike a city, all the inhabitants in the forest are connected, although in the city they are separated by concrete and telephones. What can we learn from the sea, the forest, the seemingly indifferent stars? A lot, according to Sophie.
These days, Sophie divides her time between New York and her hometown, Amsterdam.
Sophie still enjoys talking with verve and humor about her time as a patient, about how to live versus how to survive and about her wigs and hospital experiences.
You can also book Sophie for a fascinating lecture about her passion for language and communication. While abroad, she had to learn other languages and experienced delays, but also freedom.
If it is true that language partly forms our reality, does this reality broaden when learning another language? And does all reality fit into language or is there another reality that we cannot grasp, in words and grammar? In short, is there a language beyond words?
Drawing on recent research and using her imagination, Sophie sketches a scenario of a language spoken, beyond our hearing, between animals and trees. She reads from her story, The Girl And The Shark, based on fact, about a woman who frees sharks from lagging fish hooks and makes the extraordinary discovery that the sharks she encounters communicate with each other about this. She then takes you into the forest and its underground network of roots and fungi. That trees communicate with each other has now been scientifically established.