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Markus Zusak: 2019 National Book Festival

Markus Zusak: 2019 National Book Festival


>>Carla Hayden: I’m Carla
Hayden, the Librarian of Congress, and I hope you
all have been enjoying the Book Festival. I know. [ Applause and Cheering ] I’ve been having a
wonderful, wonderful time. Someone said, “Well, you
know, Miss Hayden, you, weren’t you a children’s
librarian?” I said, “Yep!” They said, “Then, you became
a Young Adult librarian?” I said, “Yep!” Said, “Well, you’re having fun.” I said, “Oh, yep!” I am having so much fun, and
that’s what we want you to know that the Book Festival is about. It’s about the joy of reading,
the joy of relating to people who are writing about you
and writing about others. And, that’s what we hope
that our next guest, who flew here from Australia. [ Applause and Cheering ] And, a special thank you
to the embassy of Australia for sponsoring and
presenting this. So, thank you, the embassy. And, as you know, our
next author Markus Zusak. Where’s the applause? [ Applause and Cheering ] Was recently just one of
PBS’s Great American Reads, “The Book Thief”. He’s also. [ Applause ] The author of the extraordinary
international best seller “I Am the Messenger”
and you should know, and you probably do,
his new book “Bridge of Clay” is already receiving
very positive reviews and a lot of book buzz. So, please welcome,
straight from Australia, to the 2019 Library of Congress
Book Festival, Markus Zusak. [ Applause and Cheering ]>>Markus Zusak: Thank you. [ Inaudible Comment ] Thank you. [ Applause ] Ah, geez. I just had
to get that hug in. How often do you get
that opportunity. Thank you so much. I’m honored and thrilled, and I’m so thrilled
that you’re all here. It does take me back. I always start, this is
like my security blanket beginning story. The very first time I
did something like this, it was a reading in Australia. I’m not going to say where,
and I did something like this for my first every
book, “The Underdog”. And, of course, I got to the
town, and everyone said, “Oh, it’s a great arts town,
and they love books and they love reading.” And, of course, 6:30
in the evening, I got there to do the event,
and of course, no one turned up. And, it’s not even
the best part. The best part is that the
librarian still made me read from my book. [ Laughter ] Just to her. And, that’s inexperience for
you because now, I would say, “I’m not reading from the book. We’re going to the pub.” And, so, it’s an honor
for me to be here. It’s also an honor,
especially, because, you know, the Australian Embassy
has brought me out here. And, something we do at
home now, and I think it’s, I still feel like it’s something
we’re still learning is, you know, that we have welcome
to country where we respect, you know, the first
people of our country. And, I’m honored today because I
have authors, indigenous authors from my home country here today. And so, I want to say
to Branton and to Kim and to Janine, it’s an honor. Belinda and Jen,
thanks for being here. And, Beck as well. Thank you for having me, and so, I feel like this is a sacred
moment for me, and it’s an honor to have you all here and
to share in this moment. And so, thank you very much. I’m thrilled. [ Applause and Cheering ] I think one of the things, one
of the reasons we do that is to, is I think for us to
understand the appreciation of stories and always realize. They’re not always realized. I think you finally start
growing up as you do get older and you realize that, and what
I’ve realized is the stories are what we’re made of. And, you start becoming who
you are long before you’re even born. And so, I’m going to tell
you some of the stories that have led, I guess, to
my writing career or not or that my writing
career have come to in spite of these stories. But, not really, I think. But, I’m just going to tell you
some of my favorite stories, and I’m in the middle now. I’m 44 years old, and I used
to tell a lot of stories about my childhood growing up. And now, I’m realizing that
I can start to tell stories about my kids, and so I’m going to tell you a story
about my parents. I’m going to tell you two
stories about my kids as well. And, then I’ll show you maybe
how they’ve come about being. Not necessarily in my books,
but a part of my books. And, sometimes, it’s the
stories under the stories that are as important. So, I’m going to tell you my
favorite story about my parents, and it’s also the story of how
I ruined Christmas in 1984. And, it’s all because of
my alarm clock that I got for my ninth birthday,
and it was white, and it was in the
shape of a dome. It had glow in the
dark hands and numbers. It had a little black
ridge section at the back that you pushed up, and
then when it went off, you just pushed it down. And, it was not the way
things are made today. Things are made today
to be broken. This alarm clock was built
to last, and it was heavy. And, it was quite
beautiful, and it was one of my prized possessions,
being an early riser. And, in Christmas 1984, something really
terrible happened and I loved Christmas
mainly not so much for the presents
or the family time. I loved Christmas for
the Christmas specials that were on TV. And, it was three things. It was “The Little Drummer Boy”. It was “Frosty the Snowman”,
and the Christmas classic “The Flintstones Christmas”. And, I would get up and watch
these shows, and in 1984, they disappeared from screens
across Australia or Sydney, and I thought, they’re
saving it for Christmas Eve. And so, on the morning of
Christmas Eve, I woke up, and I set my alarm
the night before. And, you know, when you’re going
away or you’ve got work to do in the morning, or there’s
something big happening, often you’ll wake up
before your alarm goes off. I woke up before
my alarm went off, and I went into the lounge room. It’s 1984, so you can imagine
brown carpet, orange curtains, and the ugliest L shaped couch
in the history of the world. Except for there was probably
one next door as well, and so I went into the lounge
room and I turned on the TV. And, of course, it’s a big
wooden box of a thing, you know. And, I turned it
on, and of course, no “Flintstones Christmas”, no “Little Drummer
Boy”, nothing good. And, at one point, then, I saw
my dad wonder down this hallway, and the hallway that
went to my brother’s and my room that we shared. And, you could see
diagonally into the room, and I saw my dad walk
through that hallway. And, it was that moment, I can tell you exactly what
I was thinking and apologies for the more conservatively
spoken of you out there. But, I’m nine years old, sitting
on the couch, and I said the, I thought the only thing
that I could possibly think. I just saw him go through
and I went, “Oh, shit. The alarm clock.” I forgot to turn
the alarm clock off. And then, watched in horror as my dad stood there
studying the alarm clock. I look back now, and
I think what sort of grown man doesn’t know how
to turn off a blood alarm clock. But, he’s looked at it, and
then finally he, I again, watched in horror as he
just couldn’t work it out. And, he smashed the
alarm clock to the floor. And then, casually
walked back to bed. I’m sitting there on the
couch going oh, my god. My dad just smashed
my alarm clock. Also, in hindsight, I
look back on my brother. My useless older brother. I think just for once
couldn’t you have got up and just done me one favor and
switch off the alarm clock. But, of course he
didn’t he was sleeping through the whole thing. Next thing, my mom marched through the lounge room
in a dressing gown. Now, you’re thinking
Christmas cold. Reverse that. Christmas hot. All right. Down in Sydney. And, she’s marched through
in her pink dressing gown which is more like
a very long shirt with Hawaiian flowers on it. She’s marched through and then
I heard the back fly screen door slam. What she was doing out the
back is, our garage was out the back there, and she,
my dad had made this big thing about getting her these mugs for
Christmas that she had wanted. She was out in the
garage smashing the mugs in the plastic bag
that they were in. And then, she came marching
back through the lounge room, didn’t say a word to me. And, my mom’s the most
gregarious, lovely, you know, person you could ever meet. Didn’t even look at me. She’s walked back through, and next to the little
wooden sliding door, there were these three tables. And, I think this is very
’80s-centric, is they were like the Russian
dolls of side tables. There was a little one. There was a medium one, and
there was a big one, right? On top of that was a board game. It wasn’t Monopoly. It was a board game
based on Monopoly, sort of called Careers. And, she’s picked it
up on the way through. And, I thought, what’s
she going to do with the Careers board game. But, she walked through
and around to the little bedroom
where, you know, where my mom and dad slept. And, what she did was she
proceeded to smash my dad over the head with the
Careers board game. And, I know some of you
are out there thinking, “This is his favorite
story about his parents?” But, it kind of is. And, that was where, I had
a really happy childhood, by the way. If the worst thing that happened to you is your dad
smashed your alarm clock, you had a good childhood. And, anyway, that
was when I jumped up, and then, I did go in there. But, one of my sisters
beat me to it. She was, I had two older sisters
as well, and she’d gone in there and my mom had also thrown
her jewelry box at my dad. And, there was paper money from
the Careers board game floating through around in there. And, I’m standing there
going, oh, my god. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something even more
disturbing than any of that because my brother and my
older sister were standing in the hallway hugging
each other. And, I’d never seen that
before in my entire life. I thought, I just thought
this is the greatest disaster of all time, and I’ve done it
on the morning of Christmas Eve. And, now, my two favorite
details of this story are still to come, and well, my
three favorite details. My mom went to work, okay. My mom is 82 years old. She still sometimes goes to
work cleaning people’s houses, and just because she loves doing
it and she loves being out. And, I think she’s trying to
get away from my dad, all right? And, they’re still
together, all right? And so, she left,
and the next thing, I’m sitting on my bedroom
floor next to my dad. And, this is one of
the things I love about my dad is he can
do something like that. He can smash your alarm
clock, and then you have to feel sorry for him. He’s sitting there going,
“I’m such a bastard.” And, I’m sitting there
nine years old going, “No, you’re all right. It’s okay. It’s all right.” He took me to the
shops, you know, to try to buy me a new one,
a replacement alarm clock, and of course, that
didn’t work out at all. Because you could never
find the same alarm clock, and probably nor should you. And, it was this sort of more
pathetic little alarm clock that we bought. And then, there was this shop, and some of the few Australians
in the audience here. There was this shop that sold
sort of inappropriate stationary and cards and, you know, and
appropriate ones as well, called the Granny May’s Shop. And, in that shop, my dad,
he is the only guy I know who could do something
like that and then see fit to buy himself a present. He bought a little
placard to put on his desk with this platitude on it, the lamest thing you
could ever imagine which said, “Keep your temper. No one else wants it.” And, he took that home
and put it on his desk. But, my favorite detail
of all was later on, and I’m telling the story
very quickly because I want to get through everything. Was the, when my mom came
home from work that day, I was sitting on my
sister’s bed I think. And, she came in, and I
looked at my mom, and I said, I’ve been worried all day. And, I said to her, “So,
are you going to, are you and Dad going to get divorced? Are you going to leave Dad?” And, she looked at me, and
this was her moment, of course, to say, don’t worry, you
know, these things just, these things just happen. It’ll blow over. Don’t worry at all. But, she looked at me, and
she went, “I don’t know.” [ Laughter ] I felt like saying, “Yep, and you have a great
Christmas, too, Mom.” And so, when I talk
about that story, like the first thing
I need to say yes, my mom and dad are
still together. And, also, what I’ve realized over the years becoming a writer
is that I think we all invite, we do all invite
chaos into our lives, and our stories are
in the chaos. And, growing up in a family
with four kids, which is large in some ways but not compared
to other people, you know, it was one of the
richest, there were, I was always surrounded
by stories. And, that’s led, now, to, you
know, to, you know, in my, I don’t want to say so called
writing career where my mom and dad, the other thing, like
leading from you have a moment like that, but my mom and
dad would also tell me these great stories. And, I was so lucky that I had
not only these people who were so close to me and
me close to them that they had these
amazing stories, but they had the ability to
tell them in the most amazing, entertaining, beautiful,
sad, comedic ways. And, not only just telling
me about their childhood. So, I used to play Cricket
in the backyard, and I’d come in from the house with my
brother and friends and things. And, it was like, sometimes,
a piece of Europe just came into our kitchen when,
just spontaneously, my mom and dad would
tell me their stories. And, I’ll just quickly tell you
two really quick ones was, well, the first was when my mom, she
told us about how in the town where she grew up, often animals
would be herded down the streets because it was a sort
of farming district. And, between, you know, just
outside of Munich, and one day, they heard all of the, all
of that commotion coming down the street and they all
ran down to the main street. And, they realized that
it wasn’t animals coming down the street. And, it was actually people,
and it was Jewish people and other so-called criminals
being taken to Dachau. And, there was an old
man who couldn’t keep up, and it took a teenage boy
to run into his house. That’s why I say never
underestimate teenagers. The teenager boy ran into his
house, and this old man was so emaciated he could barely
walk, and he had a long beard. And, when the boy handed
him the piece of bread, he fell to his knees and he
held him, held the teenage boy by his ankles and cried into
his feet saying, “Thank you.” And, then, a soldier came
by and ripped the bread away and whipped the old man
for taking the bread. And then, he chased the
boy, and he whipped him for giving him the
piece of bread. And, in that story, I
immediately, even as a kid, I mean, I didn’t think of it
in terms of the actual wording, but I understood that
that was all of us. It was the beauty of us and the
terror of us brought together. And so, I was always
interested in opposites when I started writing. And so, in a book like “The Book
Thief”, there’s always, I think, the memory of my mom telling
me how the ground was covered in ice when they’d come of the
bomb shelters in the morning. But, the sky was on fire,
and the city was on fire. And, I think I always remembered
that, and when I started writing that book, which I
thought, by the way, would be a 100-page novella,
and it got a bit out of hand. I also thought no one was
ever going to read it. You know, I thought of
someone trying to recommend it to their friends, you know, and the friend says,
“What’s it about?” And, you say, “Well,
it’s set in Nazi Germany. It’s narrated by Death. Nearly everyone dies. It’s 580 pages long. You’ll love it,” you know. So, but that’s what freed me up
to write it exactly how I felt like it needed to be written. And, I think that, and I know,
you know, some of the authors in the audience, too, I
think we all understand at some point you crossed
the line between trying to please the audience
and then saying, “No, no. If you want to be a part of
this, you have to come with me.” And, it’s always
the stories, too, that don’t quite make
it into the book. My dad grew up outside
Vienna, and he was, his town – my mom and dad were really
young kids at this time. And, my dad was terrified. They were all terrified
of the Russian soldiers who occupied their town. And, one day, he was on the
street, and he was in a gang of little kids, and they did
all sorts of terrible things. Because they’d find stuff. There was stuff everywhere. They found a flare gun once,
and they tried to set it off. And, instead of it going
that way, it went that way, straight into the Russian camp. And then, they ran. He said, “I ran for
five kilometers until I heard the gunfire stop.” And so, one day, he
was on the street, and there was a bit
Russian truck pulled up, and it was just him, the
truck, and a soldier got out. And, he walked towards my dad. And, my dad was just, you know,
obviously, he was terrified of this big, hulking man. You know, and it
probably maybe my size. You know, but when you’re
a kid, everyone’s big. And, he said this man came up
to him, and his gun was hanging, you know, from his other hand. And, he stopped, and
he looked at my dad. And, he reached out
with his hand. He just reached out, and
with the back of his hand, he just touched him
on the face like that. And, he said, “[Russian
word]” meaning child. And, my dad said, you know,
and this soldier had tears in his eyes when he did that. And then, he turned around,
and he got back in his truck and he drove away, drove past. And so, and I can remember my
dad saying probably he had his own kids back home that he
hadn’t seen for many years, and you don’t know what
he’s seen in that war. And so, I grew up
hearing stories like this, but not only that, I, there
were also ridiculous childhood stories as well. They weren’t telling me, they
never sat me down and said, “We’re going to tell you
about, you know, what happened in our town in the war.” They were telling me about
their childhoods, really. And so, there were all these
stories about characters in the town as well and their
friends and things like that. It was never premediated, and I think that’s what
gave me a love of stories. And then, all these years
later, so, things turn and turn and turn so many times. And then, suddenly,
you’re the parent, and you’ve got your own kids. And, suddenly, your kids are
the ones giving you the stories. And, my two recent favorite
stories do actually come from writing “Bridge of Clay”, and as some people know,
it did take 13 years. And, you know, and
that’s a fairly long time. Friends, you know, I had
a really good friend die in the writing of this book, and
I had a lot of beautiful moments but a lot of self-doubt. And, but it’s funny, then,
that there are stories that surround a book, too,
and there as important to the book as the words in it. And so, I’m just going
to tell you quickly two of those stories. One was when I was finally
doing the very last edits of this book, and I was
sitting at the kitchen table. Kitchen is my favorite
room in the house. I feel like the best stories
happen in the kitchen. And, I was just sitting at the
table, 7:00 in the morning, my 12-year-old daughter was
sitting diagonally opposite me eating Special K.
And, I looked over. I don’t know about all of you, but my children eat
like barbarians. And, I looked over, and I said, “Can you keep it
down over there? I’m trying to get
some work done here.” And, she’s, she looked up,
spoon was halfway to her mouth, and she just stopped, looked
at me, and went, “You? Work?” And, I thought
about that all day. She’s gone off to school. She’s just, you know,
having fun. I’m sitting there
going, “Blood hell. These bloody kids, you know,
who do they think they are?” And, then, I thought,
right, let’s check this out. And, I hit the, I never
count words in a book. I never do that. You know, when someone says to
me, “I’m 60,000 words, you know, 1000 words through this book,” I
have some idea what that means. But, I hit the tools thing
where it says word count. Hundred and twenty-eight
thousand or so words in “Bridge of Clay”, and I thought, “Right. Now, let’s divide that by
how many days there are in 13 years.” And, probably might
surprise you, it came out as 1.9
words per day. [ Laughter ] And, not even two. Not even two, and so, you
know, that was post book, but one of the things that
really rescued this book. I’m going to tell this
really quickly because I want to make sure I have
time for questions. I was going to read
a little bit, too, but that’s gone out the window. Because I’m just going
to tell you the story. That one of the things that revived this book was
just realizing how much I loved writing and how much
I loved stories. And, I was, one of the
things I was reminded of in that period was that about four
years ago or five years ago, I was just on holiday
with my family, and my son was four years old. And, I did something unusual. I took my t-shirt off. Oh, first thing, I
was washing my car. That’s really unusual. It was about, it was
getting up to 100 degrees. You know, so it was a
good 38 degrees at home, and I was cleaning,
I was washing my car. And, then, I took my t-shirt
off just to brush sand out of the back of my car. And, yeah, in my car, we’ve got
two kids, two cats, two dogs. It’s full of, my
car’s full of sand, dog hair, and lolly wrappers. And, but I was brushing
that out, and my son came around
the corner. Now, my kids, there’s always
a story before the story or inside the story. My kids don’t call me Dad. They call me Pop, and the reason
they call me Pop is thanks to your country and
the Berenstain Bears. It’s those books. You know how the dad
bear is always trying to teach the young
bears something, but the dad’s a real idiot. And, they call him Pop. Well, when I read those
books, because I found them from my childhood to my kids, they saw that Dad
was a real idiot, and they sort of went, oh. So, they started calling me Pop. And, it stuck. So, my son came around
the corner, he saw me with my t-shirt off
just sort of brushing sand out of the back of the car, and
she stopped dead in his tracks. And, he just looked at me. He’s going, “Hey, Pop,
what are you doing here in just your nipples?” [ Laughter ] And, I’m looking at him, and you
know when you’re in that moment. And, I just thought,
two things I thought. One, I just thought
“That’s genius,” you know. And, I’m not that, I’m like always talking my
kids down, you know? I’m like, my kids aren’t gifted. My kids are just
normal, nice, you know, pretty decent kids, you know? And, but, of course, the
second thing I thought was, “I might be able to use that.” And, in the piece I
was going to read, that moment actually
occurs in the book, and so, you think where did
the last 13 years go? It went into moments like that. And so, I think what, sorry. What I’ve realized is that,
you know, under the stories, under the books, there are
the words you never see. And, I think the opportunities
to come to days like this is where we get to show you
those words and those stories, where you get to know, you
get to know us as people. So, thank you very much, and the
last thing I’ll say is I became a writer when I was
16 years old, and I tried to write my
first book because I realized when I was reading novels
that I knew it wasn’t true, but I believed it
when I was inside it. And, to be able to live
in those two worlds and to live a life that’s
full of stories, you know, it’s a privilege, and
it’s what makes days like this a privilege as well. So, thank you very much, and
if people have questions, please run to the microphone,
and I’ll try to answer quickly. Thank you. [ Applause ] All right jump straight in. Come straight in, and
I’ll try to be quick.>>Hi, in the 13 years it
took you to write the book, how did you push through moments
of doubt where you were kind of trying to plot
things and such?>>Markus Zusak: How did I get through the doubt,
moments of doubt? I mean, honestly,
with great difficulty, and I think I’m always
weirdly optimistic. You know, it’s all,
that was a bad day, that was a bad week,
that was a bad year. But, I think what you
have to, seriously. You know, and I would,
I think what actually, there’s a belief you have
when you’re a writer. I always think it’s going to
come together at some point. And, you know, and
yeah, recently, because there’s a big Cricket
series on at the moment, and they’re talking
about batting, you know, through the bad periods because
it’s going to come together. But you got to be willing to
stick through the bad ones. And, that’s why I say to people
who want to be writers is, you know, I don’t have a big
intellect or anything like that, but I do stay with it. I just stay there. But, at the same time,
don’t be too hard on yourself in those moments. Sometimes, you can’t write,
and sometimes, you’re just, that’s when you’re developing
your own style, I think, and what you’re trying to do. And, there’ll come a point
where you’ve stored it all up to a point where you go,
“Now, I can’t walk away from it. And now, I have to face it.” And, you go, “Now.” And, then you do it. You’re cultivating the
iron will all the time. So, that’s what gets you
through the doubt, I think. Yes, on that side.>>So, I wrote my senior
thesis on “The Book Thief”, so my question might
sound a bit weird. But, did you, in
writing “The Book Thief”, have to be conscious of the
fact that you were writing from, like, a first-person perspective
from a traumatic event that you were, like, a
generation kind of removed from?>>Markus Zusak: I think I was
very free to write that book, and I was really naïve. I was in my mid-20s, you know, when I first thought
of the idea. And then, I thought of bringing
Death in as the narrator, and there’s sort of, I
think once I did that, all bets were off a little bit. I sort of went, okay,
it’s not going to be 100-page book anymore. It’s going to be
a 250-page book. And, I think not even, just not
really understanding quite what I was doing allowed
me to be quite free. And so, you know, I didn’t
worry as much back then. I didn’t worry before I
started so much, and so, I think that’s why I feel lucky
that I understood that I wanted to be a writer when
I was quite young. You know, because if I
was starting to write “The Book Thief” now, I’d
probably be quite pent up about all that that involved. You know, sometimes it
helps to be a bit numb to what you’re doing and
to think, like I said, that nobody was going
to read it anyway. And so, you can imagine how
free I felt writing that book, and when there was a risk
to be taken, I took it. And, my biggest criticism of
that book, now, looking back, is that it goes too far, often,
just in the language and, you know, there are times
on every page of a bit of a lack of discipline. But, maybe it was better to go
too far than not far enough, you know, and it’s what gives
the book its kind of exuberance. So, I think, after a while,
you get to look back and sort of look back nostalgically
at, you know, what you were like back then and
what the book was like. I hope that answered
it in some way.>>Yeah.>>Markus Zusak: Yeah, again.>>Thank you for
being here today and sharing part of
your life with us. “The Bridge of Clay”, did
you ever intend for Clay to be presented as autistic?>>Markus Zusak: No,
I didn’t actually. I just, I wanted Clay to
make a, he sort of makes, he doesn’t necessarily
make a conscious decision to not talk, for example. It’s more Clay, I just wanted
him to be a mysterious figure. And, you don’t actually
know Clay until the second last
chapter of, the 99th chapter of 100 chapters in the book. And, it’s a book that
reveals itself quite slowly and reveals its main
character slowly. And, I don’t apologize for that. I sort of, so, for me, I never
think about those things. Like, I never think about,
say, autism or, you know, in the case of, you know, World
War II or something like that. I’m always just, I’m always
writing from the inside out in that kind of way. And, I’m, I think, trying to
understand Clay as I’m writing, no matter how meticulously
I’ve planned. So, I didn’t intend that
at all, or not intend, but I never considered
that he would be. Okay. No worries. Yes.>>Hi, what was your
process of developing Death into a character that people who typically would fear
it can empathize with and just making it seem
like such a human character?>>Markus Zusak: You know,
what’s funny with death, but people come up to me, not
all the time, but every now and again, people come up to me
and say, “You’ve made me feel so much better about dying.” And, I say, “I’m
really happy for you.” Because I don’t feel
much better at all. And, but, the first
version, I’ll be very quick. The first version of “The Book
Thief” Death was really macabre and was really enjoying
his work. And, I wrote 200
pages like that, and I went, “That’s not it.” You spend so much of
your writing life going, “That’s not it. That’s not it, and
that’s not it, either.” And, somehow, you
end up back there with just a minor adjustment,
a minor unexpected thing. And, it was when I thought
of the last line of the book where I thought,
okay, that’s it. Death is actually a little bit
afraid of us and afraid for us, and he’s writing this
book to prove to himself that humans can be beautiful
and selfless and worthwhile. And, then, when I
just readjusted, that’s what brought
the book truly to life. And, so, it wasn’t much
of a, it’s a process of finding the right
little piece of luck, and but you’ve got
to be there for it. I guess. Thank you. Yes.>>Hello.>>Markus Zusak: Wrap it up.>>Okay, yeah.>>Markus Zusak: I just
got the “wrap it up” sign. Any other, I’m here,
so feel free to ask me.>>I wanted to talk
about more of, like, the hurdles of seamlessly
integrating different point of views. Because I feel like from a craft
angle, like, having a narrator as Death but then also
having first person, just, what were some of the
hurdles that you had to overcome in writing that?>>Markus Zusak: I think
the hurdles, I think I feel like I have general hurdles. The first is I’m just looking,
I’m looking for what feels right and for what, not makes me
want to read more, but, some, I’m looking for the, for
that one thing, okay. This is the best
way to describe it. I know I was supposed
to wrap it up. When I was a kid, I
lost an athletics race that I thought I won, and I
went and complained to my dad. Can you imagine how
sympathetic he was? He said, “I thought you won,
too, but you made a big mistake. You didn’t win by enough.” You have to win by so much that
they can’t take it off you. And, when I think about writing,
I don’t think about winning or being better than anyone because that’s a
pointless exercise. But, what I’m trying to do
is write so much like myself that I know that only I
could have written it. And, that’s what I
know about, you know, in particular “The Book
Thief” and “Bridge of Clay”. I know that no matter
what anyone else thinks of those books, I know that
only I could have written it, and that’s the voice
I’m trying to find. And, that’s, in a way,
the voice that’s inside that voice you’re talking about. I’m trying to find
that feeling in the, when I’m reading and rereading. And, I hope that made even
some semblance of sense.>>Thank you.>>Markus Zusak: I know there
are still people with questions, and I know I’m supposed
to wrap it up. It’s awful of me, but, you know,
how often does this happen? I’m going to take one
more from that side. They can kick me out of here. You know, what are
they going to do? Yes, quickly.>>So, I was wondering also
when there’s situations where you feel a lot of
self-doubt if it’s similar to feeling unmotivated to write? Because I feel like
during times of self-doubt, you feel like you can’t write. But, motivation is like you want
to but something’s stopping you.>>Markus Zusak: Yeah, so
that’s a lot of the time. And, there, I think what you get
better at learning is to realize when you should take
it easy on yourself. And so, I’ll often, like,
sometimes I’ll go for a surf, you know, and I feel
a bit guilty. Sometimes, I watch the
same movies over and over and over again, movies
that I love, and I just take notes, then. So, I’m working whilst
not working. You know, and so, you know,
and that’s why I’m saying in those times, that’s when you’re thinking
and you’re dreaming. And, that’s why if I take my
dogs for a walk, I never listen to music because I want to
be a dog on those walks. I want, that’s my dream. You know, that’s the time
when I get to dream, and so, it’s finding the spaces outside
your writing that fit into it. You know, and then, you arrive at writing a little
bit fresher again. So, you know, I hope
that makes sense as well. And, you know, I don’t
want to get kicked out, so I will just say thanks
for being so generous, and you could be anywhere
today, but you’re here. Thank you. [ Applause ]

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