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I Am the Messengerby Markus Zusak
Author Q & A
How did you become a writer?
When I was growing up, I wanted to be a house painter like my father, but I was always screwing up when I went to work with him. I had a talent for knocking over paint and painting myself into corners. I also realized fairly quickly that painting bored me. When I was a teenager, I read some books that brought me totally into their worlds. One was The Old Man and the Sea and another was What?s Eating Gilbert Grape. When I read those books, I thought, ?That?s what I want to do.? It took seven years to get published and there were countless daily failures, but I?m glad those failures and rejections happened. They made me realise that what I was writing just wasn?t good enough ? so I made myself improve.
Do you follow a set routine when you write?
I basically have two routines. The first one is the non-lazy routine, where I get up and work from about 7am and aim to finish by 11:30. That usually sees me through till noon or twelve-thirty (with some time-wasting in between). Then I?ll take a long break and do a few more hours in the afternoon. The lazy routine usually starts at 10am and I?ll write longer into the afternoon.
The only time these routines really change is at the start or end of a book, when I?m more likely to work at night. I can?t face starting a book early in the morning purely because self-belief levels are at their lowest for me when I wake up. When I?m finishing a book, I will stay up longer and work through the night, mainly out of desperation to finally get it done.
How did you come to write I Am The Messenger?
I was sitting in a park one night eating fish and chips and saw a bank with a fifteen minute parking zone out the front, and I thought, ?Fifteen minutes, that?s not very long ? every time I go the bank it takes a lot longer than that.? I then thought, ?What if you were in that bank when it was being robbed and your car was out in the fifteen minute parking zone? How would you get out to move your car to avoid getting a fine?? That gave me the bungled bank robbery scene that led to everything else in the book.
What do you do to get away from writing?
Living in Sydney, I?ve taken the chance to start surfing again. One of my best memories of growing up is catching my first proper wave and surfing across it and my brother cheering at me from the shore. Many years later, I?ve started up again and I?m really loving it ? as long as the waves are small enough?I also watch a lot of movies, especially when I?m struggling with a story I?m working on. I like watching the same ones over and over again, so I half watch and half think about the story.
Lastly, where do you get your ideas from?
I used to lie about this, but now I actually know ? I started writing when I was sixteen. I?m thirty now. I get my ideas from fourteen years of thinking about it.
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