My childhood is there in all my books: Markus Zusak



Famed Australian author Markus Zusak says his childhood stories always crop up in his writings.

"I think a part of who you are always end up in a book. Like I haven't written a book about my childhood but my childhood is there in every book that I have written," Zusak, the author of the best-selling masterpiece 'The Book Thief' said at the Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet 2019 on Wednesday.

He shared how stories told by his parents had helped him. For him, those stories were lively tales which were like a "piece of Europe coming to my drawing room", "snow on the ground", "train coming inside the kitchen" and so on.

The author who just published "Bridge of Clay" after a long gap, feels both plot and characters are important. One needs to work really hard to create them.

"I think it is important to make the character do something memorable," he said.

"The Book Thief" talks about a little girl subjected to the horrors of World War II in Germany. She finds solace by stealing books and sharing them with others surviving Nazi Germany.

Hitler destroyed people with words and she reclaimed those words to write her own story, he said.

Death is used as a narrator of the above story and he loves juxtaposing extremes to derive beauty and maximum effect.

"In the book 'The Messenger', the character Ed Kennedy is a superhero without any superpower. His only real power is his humanness," he said.

Talking about different types of rhythms in all his books, he said: "For me rhythm in the writing is as important as what is written. Even in the manuscripts, I use different fonts because each book feels different to me. It should read like music. Every comma is there for a reason."

"It may not be grammatically needed there but I put it for the reader to take a break and to spice things up," he said.

Advising budding writers to focus on things they love, Zusak said: "Sometimes instead of reading three books in a month I am more likely to read the same book thrice. That's how I became a writer by having that level of obsession.

"Now I think rather than being better than any other writer, I want to write so much like myself, that only I could have written it," he added.

Zusak was amused when a young girl in the audience called "The Book Thief" the "most beautiful book in the whole planet" which she couldn't read at the first attempt.-IANS