Describe your new book.
The book I'm working on now is still going through the beginning sentence... I think I've written it close to a hundred times. The book is about a boy building a bridge and he wants it to be perfect he wants to transcend humanness. Other than that, I can't say too much more. I can give you the opening sentence as it stands now, though:
The Murderer arrived at six o'clock, and in the history of all murderers everywhere, this one was surely the most pitiful, at least in terms of appearance.
What fictional character would you like to be your friend, and why?
It's a tough decision, but I think I'd want either Sam-I-Am from Green Eggs and Ham or Yossarian from Catch-22. They seem like polar opposites when thinking about books, but the characters are both great innovators when it comes to rocking the boat.
Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
In The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Michael Chabon describes a boat arriving in a port like this: "The Rotterdam came into New York Harbor like a mountain wearing a dinner jacket." To me, that's a writer sitting in a sandbox playing with the words. It's a gem.
What is your favorite breakfast cereal?
I'm usually not too fussy, as long as it isn't my 1 year old daughter's leftovers. As a kid I loved Fruit Loops, purely because we weren't allowed to have them. In the summer holidays, my parents would finally relent and buy us a box...and then we ruined it by fighting over the cheap and nasty plastic toy rocket inside. It was all part of the ritual of arguing and fighting that my brother, my sisters, and I were experts at.
What do you do for relaxation?
I usually go surfing. When I finished writing The Book Thief, I pretty much went surfing for a few months. The problem was that I needed to learn again, and that's when relaxation turns to frustration, but it was definitely worth it in the end.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a footballer, but I soon realised that I wasn't big enough, good enough, and I hated training not the best combination. I hated running laps and so forth, and at sixteen, the pages of books started to turn themselves that great feeling of seeing it all there like you're watching a movie... That was when I decided I wanted to be a writer. If nothing else, it's less painful physically.
Who are your favorite characters in history?
Michelangelo. He's the only one. I'm always interested in the hunger he had to create perfection, as well as the rumor that he was quite difficult and stubborn. Someone asked me once who I'd have to dinner if I could choose three people, and Michelangelo was my first choice. Someone listening in said that he'd probably say something along the lines of, 'Gee, I really like what you've done with the ceiling...' Either that or 'This food's bloody terrible...' But I'm most fascinated with him for that kind of iron will to achieve the impossible.
If you could be someone else, who would that be, and why?
I'd be my brother. I admire him for the opposite reason to being interested in Michelangelo for his relaxed attitude. On the whole, he doesn't try to impress people. When we were kids and played football, I'd always try my hardest because that's what you were supposed to do. If my brother didn't feel like playing, he'd go out on the field and do nothing. That sort of behavior is usually frowned upon, but I really like the approach. I feel like it took more courage to be like that than to be so worried what everyone thought. There's a kind of freedom to that idea that can't be underestimated.