‘The Book Thief’ Author Talks About Writing

April 24, 2009 in Book Reviews, On Writing by pacejmiller

zusakFollowing my book review of The Book Thief by Australian author Markus Zusak, I decided to look a little deeper into the life of this wonderful writer.  And so I came across a series of videos from Sutherland Shire Library in Australia, where Markus Zusak (who grew up in Sutherland) discusses his childhood experiences and how he came to write The Book Thief.

What struck me as amazing (and gave me plenty of both hope and despair) was how much Zuzak struggled to write The Book Thief.  Reading it, you would have thought that the words must have flown effortlessly from his pen (or fingers), but reality could not have been more different.  He claims that it took him 2 years (!) to write the first half of the book, where he struggled especially with the point of view the story would be told from and the characteristics of the narrator.  But when he figured it all out, it took only a month to write the second half of the book!  Further, he says that he revised the first 90 pages of the book 150-200 times just to get it right!  Wow.  Success really doesn’t come easily.

The video is split into 3 parts.  Click on the links to see them.

Part I – Zusak discusses his childhood through a funny memory, and uses it as a lesson in storytelling before discussing how he came to write The Book Thief.

Part II – Zusak answers questions about The Book Thief and writing in general.

Part III – Zusak concludes the talk with a story about the impact of his work on people and a short passage from the book.

PS: I’ve been hearing rumors of a possible film version of The Book Thief.  IMDB has a preliminary listing for it with a 2010 release date.  While this doesn’t surprise me, I wonder how they’ll convert the book onto the big screen.  It’s certainly not going to be easy and the results could potentially be disastrous if they don’t do it right!