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10 Things About Me That Might Surprise You

This is me in Japan last year

A few days ago I was tagged by my namesake Nick Wignall to participate in a “10 things about me” challenge. Oops, that’s a bonus one already… the ’N’ in N.A. Turner stands for ‘Nick’.

I’ve already seen a couple of these posts pass my timeline by writers I like. So I accept Nick’s challenge and I’ll share my own. Be warned, they are very random!

Let me know what you think 😃

#1: I’m Dutch

The beauty of the Internet and a platform like Medium is that everyone can contribute his or her ideas from all across the world.

I’m from Amsterdam in the Netherlands. And no Amsterdam is not a country, nor is it part of Denmark 😉

Photo by Daniil Vnoutchkov on Unsplash

So my first language is Dutch. English is my second language but I must admit I prefer it over Dutch. Therefore, everything I write is in English.

#2: I Had my First Job at the Age of 6

Coming from an entrepreneurial family I learned the ropes at a young age. I joined my grandpa to the ‘Bazaar’ a huge market in the Netherlands. We got up at 5 to find ourselves a little business at the pre-market.

At Christmas, we bought boxes full of candleholders and candles.

With the Dutch ‘Carnaval’ we bought a pile of masks, ranging from Dr. Spock to Yoda.

We had a stall on the market and my little six-year-old self stood on it, wearing a mask, yelling: 1 mask for 35 (guilders at the time), 2 for 50. I had a fanny pack filled with change. At the end of the day, we sold the lot. I went home with about 2,500 guilders (that would be about $1,200).

My grandpa made me promise one thing though, I had to share it with my younger brother.

I bought my first ‘child-friendly’ laptop from that money. Coincidentally there was a program on it to learn English words.

#3: I Almost Choked to Death in a bite of Rib-Eye Once

I worked at a restaurant on the beach near Amsterdam one summer.

In one day I had one severe injury and one near death experience.

I was doing the dishes. A bucket full of soapy water and all. Through all the foam I couldn’t see the chef’s knives in the bottom. (He wasn’t allowed to throw it in my bucket by the way). Well, if you’ve ever seen a Tarantino movie, the bloodstreams are real. I cut off a top of my middle finger and the blood literally shot up to the ceiling. (Sorry for the gore…).

But that isn’t the complete story. It’s like the chef had it in for me (although he was a friend). During a quick dinner, a bandage holding the top of my finger on, I ate my first rib-eye (I was 15 and my parents were vegetarians). I cut myself a good chunk. Thing was, it was too big and it got stuck in my throat. 🍖

My short life flashed by and my aunt — who owned the restaurant — threw the table out of the way and with immense strength, she pulled me up, did a Heimlich and ‘poof’ the piece of rib-eye flew across the terrace. What a day that was.

#4: I’m a Huge Concert Junkie

Kendrick Lamar in Amsterdam

I have this app called Songkick. I get a notification every time one of my Spotify artists has a gig in Amsterdam. This way I never miss a concert of one of my favorites.

It costs a fortune but it’s so cool to go to a concert!

This year I’ve seen Kendrick Lamar, Beyonce & Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake, Sam Smith, JP Cooper, Jessie Ware and many more.

#5: I Read a Book Per Week

On Goodreads, I’m participating in the yearly book challenge. I’m aiming for 60. I’m now at 47.

I love to read and I like to learn. Be it fiction or non-fiction.

The last books I’ve read: Mythos by Stephen Fry (get the audio version, it’s awesome) and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

Now I’m re-reading my favorite book ever. More on that in #8.

#6: I Lost 20KG, Twice

In high school I was, well, fat. There’s no denying.

I was insecure about it but never unhappy. I had a lot of friends and no troubles with the way I looked. At one point I hit the 100kg mark at 18, then I flipped an internal switch. I lost 20kg over the course of two years (mostly with running, and keeping a healthy diet).

During my University years, I’ve struggled for six years and got back to about 95kg. At 25 I did it again. I lost 20kg once more.

Now I’ve gained half of it again. It seems to be a constant struggle. The only difference between now and then is that I care less right now (in terms of how people may look at me).

#7: I Go on Occasional Writing Retreats Alone

These are the best. It’s your typical loner/get out of society/hobo version of writing.

I pack a lot of food, wine, and snacks and rent a cabin in the woods.

Just a couple of days of reading, walking in nature and writing.

(If only…) Photo by Olivier Guillard on Unsplash

I get a lot of work done and I get my most creative ideas from such long weekends.

I reward myself with chocolate/ice-cream/crisps and a classic movie at the end of the day. Last one I checked was Lawrence of Arabia.

#8: I Love to Throw Dinner Parties

When I was younger, I wanted to be a writer or a chef. I’m (finally) pursuing the first.

I still like to cook — when I have time that is. In order to create more time for myself and my writing, I usually invite all my friends over for dinner at least once a month. That way I see most of them. Sometimes we’re with 5, sometimes 15. It doesn’t matter.

I go to markets and specialty stores to find ingredients and show-off in the kitchen. Bring in a couple of bottles of wine and we have a great night.

#9: My Favorite Book

My favorite book is Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts.

This is the premise:

“In the early 80s, Gregory David Roberts, an armed robber and heroin addict, escaped from an Australian prison to India, where he lived in a Bombay slum. There, he established a free health clinic and also joined the mafia, working as a money launderer, forger and street soldier. He found time to learn Hindi and Marathi, fall in love, and spend time being worked over in an Indian jail. Then, in case anyone thought he was slacking, he acted in Bollywood and fought with the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan…

Amazingly, Roberts wrote Shantaram three times after prison guards trashed the first two versions. It’s a profound tribute to his willpower…”

I mean, how interesting does that sound? And the writing is just… wow. Philosophical dialogues, scenes that fly off the page, intriguing characters and a mesmerizing story.

#10: I’m Reading My Own Stories For a Podcast Series

On a New Year’s party last year my friends asked me to read out one of my short stories to them before we went to bed. We rented a French castle to celebrate New Year’s.

I almost **** my pants. However, it was such a great experience that I decided to launch a podcast. At first I wanted to have someone with a British accent read it, but it was just too expensive, so I did it myself with my mixed accent with hints of British, American and Dutch.

That’s all folks. Let’s keep in touch.

Who’s next?

In keeping with tradition, I’ll nominate a few others who I would love to see do this 10 Things About Me Challenge: Nupoor Raj, Joren van Schaik, J Cleveland Payne, Jessica Nicasio, Thomas Oppong and Danny Forest.

Please note: this post contains affiliate links.



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N.A. Turner

N.A. Turner

I write about writing & creativity. Short story writer and novelist. Amazon best-selling author. Free eBook with writing tips: