… came to deliver the Leslie Rees lecture at the Fremantle Children’s Literature Centre last night. Judi J wrote a great summary of the talk here, but one of the (many) things that made me think was his comment about hearing his parents tell the stories that ended up being in, or contributing to the texture of, The Book Thief. There are a quite a few writers around who have used their parents’ stories in their fiction, the latest being the inimitable Gabrielle Wang in Little Paradise (which actually features a photo of her mother on the cover). I did the same in Bye, Beautiful, a novel to which I’ve had an incredibly strong response. I wonder if this is because the children of parents who experience trauma not only hear the stories, but take on the emotional reaction that their parents are unable to properly express, the way unrealised ambition feels its way from parent to child. And as a child, you have the stories – hold them in your bones – but don’t know what to do with them.
Except write fiction.
Anyway, the talk confirmed for me that a) Markus Zusak is as open, natural and lovely as ever, and b) we have a damn fine community of readers, writers, teachers and librarians in Western Australia. And that was only the folk who were there.