Festive book launch

Jun 17, 2024 | Real life | 0 comments

Some might say that a two-month anniversary is far too soon for a bout of nostalgia, still…. This two-month-old cover story brings back very fond memories. The profile was written by Truus Top-Hettinga for our local Dutch newspaper and is translated especially for us here by Haye van den Oever. Enjoy!

What a warm welcome I received when I visited Ragini Werner—Gini to friends and family—at home in Thesinge, especially from her friendly little dog Chino—full name Cappuccino—who must calm down in another room before the interview can begin.

Gini and I sit at a spacious dining table covered by books and magazines. My view through the big picture window in the living room is of a lovely garden, laid out playfully, and the wide world beyond. On the left is a hillock formed by the soil dug up for the foundations of the extension Gini had built onto the back of the house. This little hill is a reminder of her childhood in New Zealand. At the bottom of the garden stands Kobus, the neighbor’s Shetland pony. Every day Kobus comes to the fence and waits patiently to greet Chino.

Gini runs her business, NEEDser (Native-English Editing & Translation Service) from home. She is an editor for Dutch academics, who write articles for publication in scholarly journals. “As a linguistic ‘Mrs Mop’ I polish their English, make it grammatically  correct and read fluently without interfering with the scientific content.” Gini also translates. For example, she’s done the English versions of articles for the international edition of Flow Magazine. “Translating is as fascinating as the work I do for academics, just on a different level.”

Gini retired officially from NEEDSer in 2020, but after a short while began editing part-time again. “I missed the intellectual stimulus,” she explains. “But now I only work for my favorite clients. I keep having to say no to new clients because job offers keep coming in. If I don’t watch out, I’ll be working fulltime again. I don’t need that, but more importantly, I want to have time for my own writing.”

Ragini Werner, author
Gini’s second book Becoming Janice was released on April 10, the same day as her birthday. Published in paperback and ebook by Iguana Books in Canada, Becoming Janice is a feelgood, coming-of-age novel set in London and Amsterdam. “Although the publishers are far away in Toronto, we got on extremely well. Normally an author isn’t involved in the  production process, besides checking the proofs, but the publishers let me give feedback on their designer’s cover and together I think we’ve created something stunning.”

Iguana Books has made Becoming Janice available in online bookshops worldwide. In the Netherlands it is on sale online through Bol, Bruna and Amazon and it is also available at Wolter’s Bookstore in Groningen. The paperback is printed in America, England and Australia. Dutch orders of the paperback are printed in England. Because of Brexit, this means Dutch readers have to pay import tax on top of the shipping charges, which makes the book rather expensive. Iguana Books found this situation unfair for Gini’s local market and have allowed her to sell the paperback on her website.

Gini is enormously pleased with Becoming Janice and overwhelmed by the positive reviews the book is getting, including from well-known authors. For example, one author says: “All the characters came alive for me.” Another says, “Ragini Werner has crafted a poignant, thoughtful story that teases out the complexity of human relationships, holding a mirror up to ourselves.”

International friends
Gini was born in Indonesia. When she was four her family moved to New Zealand. Her Dutch parents were ballet teachers and as a little girl Gini took their classes, along with her older brother, Frederic Jahn, who became a professional ballet dancer. Her sister Tara Werner-Jahn, has written a book about ballet in New Zealand entitled Dance.

Although her mother and father wanted Gini to become a dancer, she felt more attracted to the art of theater, and dropped out of university to become a professional actress. “I worked for various theatre companies around New Zealand, acting in everything from musicals to Shakespeare.” In her early 20s she left for Australia, intending to continue her acting career. But the competition was too fierce and she ended up working as an assistant stage manager at the Sydney Opera House. Two years later she left for London where she worked in the world of TV advertising. After another two years, she had had enough of London and moved to Amsterdam. There she began working for Elsevier Science, first as data entry typist and ultimately as corporate journalist/editor of Elsevier Science World. “I had a wonderful time, met many interesting people, and travelled the world to do interviews for my magazine.”

After 20 years at Elsevier, Gini followed her heart up north, arriving in Thesinge in June 2000. “I’ve lived in five countries and moved house 41 times, but now I’ve found my roots. Living here is the place for me. I love how open and friendly everyone in the village is when I’m out walking Chino. Besides that, I have great neighbors [Koos van de Belt, who took the photos of Gini, lives opposite and Haye, who translated Truus’s article, lives next door]. I can feel at home anywhere but I feel totally happy here. I can hardly believe I’ve lived here for 24 years already.”

Until recently Gini ran a club for English writers as a volunteer for the IWCN (International Welcome Centre North). She still gives workshops on writing short stories. Her other hobbies include listening to classical music and creative painting. Art is evidently a family thing. Besides a couple of Gini’s own works hanging on the walls, there are paintings by her parents as well as by her aunt and cousin, both professional artists.

It goes without saying that reading is another one of Gini’s hobbies. “Mostly I read crime novels and, of course, the daily newspapers. I seldom watch TV. When I do, it’s usually films on the streaming channels.” Gini prefers looking out at the world and finding inspiration for her writing from her observations.

When Gini was writing Becoming Janice she went down to Amsterdam to refresh her memory of the locations. “All the settings in the book are real so the reader has to be able to recognize them. The book is fiction so the characters don’t exist in reality but hopefully readers will find them real.” That said, the name of one character is real: Kobus.

Iguana Books launched Becoming Janice on April 10 with a ‘hybrid’ party, held half online and half in real life. Koos van de Belt took the photos for the original profile, including this one of Gini and her friends at the live party. Gini’s other friends, from all around the world, took part in the online presentation of the book conducted by the publishers in Canada. Want to know more about Becoming Janice? Mail Gini at info@raginiwerner.com

Further reading
Original Dutch article, “Feestelijke Boeklancering” in the G&T Express, Vol. 50/4, 2024
The village of Thesinge in Wikipedia
Treasure in Thesinge




Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *