Question for Jan: The book is very optimistic in the sense that there is more that the characters will look forward to at the end of the book. Why this topic of two strangers whose lives are so different and yet intermingling, come together for a road trip? Where did the idea come from?
Answer: The first idea for a story was about a man who visits the Bull Run. In Pamplona he would find out some things about his life. A story about one person is not so interesting. A story about two friends who travel to Spain, with the long hours in the car, is a better, but still hasn’t got enough drama. Opposite characters would be the best solution, so I decided to let the man run from Amsterdam. He hichthikes and meets this other man. In the first four versions the main character wasn’t a boxer. He was a writer, a bricklayer. All kinds of professions. It didn’t work out, especially not the version in which he was a writer. That was crazy: a writer in a car, talking about writing. The Sun Also Rises gave me the boxer. In the first sentence of that great novel, Hemmingway writes about a middleweight champion. A boxer. My story became easy. The boxer had to run from something in Amsterdam… That part of the book I could write really fast, after I figured out the profession of Danny. So the story gave me the characters very slowly, with two strangers.