My first book, The girl with nine wigs, wasn't planned. It started as an avalanche of words that I wrote down in a notebook. The girl in the story is me. When I was 21, I was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer and was immediately admitted to the hospital. Overnight, my life changed.
Time was a difficult thing to handle, as I dealt with the reality of death while simultaneously experiencing boredom within the hospital walls. Somewhere in the midst of this struggle, I picked up a pen and I couldn’t put it away. I kept a notebook next to my pillow at all times. After a year of chemo & wigs, my diary was quite voluminous. It became a book and I became a writer.
The original title written on the cover of my notebook was “Four Wigs”, referring to the number of wigs I had collected at the time. With the expansion of my collection of wigs, that number kept changing, until my treatment and my book were finished: Nine Wigs. From the hospital I sent out a few pages to a newspaper and they decided to publish it. A few days later I signed a contract with a publishing house.
Wearing wigs started off as a nightmare (you will understand when you look at the pictures and zoom in on my first wig). However, as some nightmares strangely do, my wigs turned into something good. As a 21 year old girl, I was suddenly given access to such liberty to explore my identity. I gave each of my wigs a different name and found relief and joy in the beholders perception: in a strangers eyes I was just a girl with a cool haircut. Of course this is a somewhat romanticized view of my wigs. But I do think my wigs truly helped me cope and forget.
The Girl With Nine Wigs has been published in 25 countries and was made into a German movie. The book was nominated for a Dutch Literary Award and Sophie has received several heroic awards for her story. On a TEDx conference she spoke about her story and showed ‘her’ bald head to the audience for the first time: