At the end of October, me, Sarah and our friend, Louise, got tickets to a talk and signing with Markus Zusak at Waterstones Deansgate in Manchester. I was so excited because I adore The Book Thief and definitely see it as one of my favourite books. After a long 13 year wait (something he kept bringing up himself!) for his next book, it’s finally here! The event and signing was to celebrate his new novel, Bridge of Clay, which I’m currently reading.
The talk was truly one of the best I’ve been to. Markus Zusak seems really genuine and lovely as a human being and the way he spoke about writing his books was insightful and interesting. He spoke about his personal life and the influence this has on his stories and writing which was fascinating! There was a lot packed into the talk so I will go through some of my personal highlights of what he said.
One of my favourite things he spoke about was the way he writes and how he starts a new book. Often, the title is the first thing decided and that inspires a story rather than figuring out the title later. This was interesting to hear because usually authors say the title is not something that comes first at all and I think it’s quite common to struggle with the title.
I took quite a few notes whilst I was there because I wanted to remember some of the things he was saying. One of the quotes I picked up on was “It’s always the little things that are the most true.” He said this regarding what aspects he puts into his novels based on real life. I’m a big quote person and love this because I relate to it a LOT. In terms of writing, something I love to try and do myself is get the little details about characters and situations to feel real. It’s an aspect I admire of writers and my favourite books are usually ones with small details that feel so real. Zusak’s example was to do with the description of the brothers when they were born. He based a couple of the descriptions off things he noticed about his own children when they were born.
Another thing he said which I adored was “stories of our lives begin long before we are born.” The Book Thief is very effective at getting this idea across I think and from what I’ve read so far of Bridge of Clay, it is very much the same. I love the idea that we are affected by events in the past even before we are on the earth – and that we can affect futures of others by what we do. This is a sentiment I love and I think it’s one of the reasons I love his writing so much.
Zusak did talk a lot about the length of time this book took to write and the reasons for this as well as the highs and lows of this time. He said his wife is the true unsung hero of this book and she convinced him to not write for this for about a month because it had been 10 years and he didn’t seem happy. During this, all he wanted to do was write Bridge of Clay but he said this time definitely helped him with the process.
The event had a brilliant turnout – Waterstones was packed with people and there were some good questions from people in the crowd as well as the moderator herself.
There is so, so much I could say about this event and about what he spoke about but this post would end up ridiculously long! I think I’m going to write a post in the next month or so about author events and things I’ve learned from authors at these so I can include some extra bits in that!
This was honestly a wonderful event and I’m so, so happy I got to meet Markus Zusak! Did anyone else attend this event or have you attended another event by him?