Adelaide Writers Week Day 5 with Amanda McInerney
by Clayton Wehner - March 4th, 2010
Writers Week day 5 and Adelaide reverts to type – a blazing hot day with everyone searching for a shady spot!
This afternoon my two daughters and I sat in on the “Meet the Author” session with the improbably youthful looking Marcus Zusak, who had the audience eating out of his hand!! My daughters were very keen to see him as my eldest (19) had seen him some years before when he visited her English class and the youngest (13) has just about finished reading “The Book Thief”. Zusak has a very natural and self deprecating way about him and obviously feels very strongly for his book, “The Book Thief”. He told the very large crowd that the book really came out of stories that his Austrian parents used to tell himself and his siblings about their experiences during the lead up to the war, before they came out to Australia. Some of the passages in the book, such as when the stepfather gives some bread to a Jew, were directly derived from his parents experiences and he is grateful to them for what he feels is their gift to him, in their stories. He feels it is a book about people doing beautiful things in ugly times.
He also spoke about some of the ways he approaches his writing, trying to write simply, adding small details for authenticity to make the story more vivid to the reader and to try to use something unexpected to maintain momentum in the story.
The audience watching and listening to him was , as I mentioned, very large and entirely captivated as he read the first few pages of his next book, leaving us all keen to read more of it. He was then available to sign books, which he did with enormous grace, engaging both my daughters – and I assume everyone else – in a little small talk. No easy task as the lines for his signings were the longest that I have seen all week.