'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Saturday 4 January 2014

12 Curly Questions with author John Marsden

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
I am fascinated by really bad books, movies and TV shows. I collect bad books. In an old novel called The Butterfly Man, a character called John Flint collected bad obituary notices from newspapers. The narrator comments: "A more ghoulish and fearsome collection than he acquired I never elsewhere beheld." I have a collection of novels that I reckon would match John Flint's collection of obituaries.

2. What is your nickname?
Sorry to be so boring, but I don't have one!

4. Describe your writing style in ten words.
I like exploring inner worlds; the inner lives of characters.

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.
Honest, precise, realistic, interested and kind.

6. What book character would you be, and why?
Tammy, the wild man from Enid Blyton's The Children of Cherry Tree Farm. He lived in the woods, communed with animals and birds, and hated pollution. I like the idea of a solitary life, and I like the idea of living in harmony with the natural world.

7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why?
Around 1600, to the Globe Theatre in London, to see the first performance of one of Shakespeare's plays. I'd make sure I got to meet the author, for a chat about his life's work. As a man, Shakespeare, the greatest of all writers, is an elusive figure, hidden from us in the mists of time. As Bill Bryson says "We don't know… exactly how many plays he wrote or in what order he wrote them... We're not sure how best to spell his name – but then neither, it appears, was he… We don't know if he ever left England. We don't know who his principal companions were…" We only have a vague idea of what he might have looked like. Only 14 words written by him in his own hand survive.
8. What would your ten-year-old self say to you now?
There's a big wide world out there. Explore it! Have heaps of adventures. And now that you're an adult, you probably have money, so you can buy all the candy you want!

9. Who is your greatest influence?
I'd have to say Bob Dylan. I learned from him that art doesn't have to be pretty, doesn't have to be obvious. There can be a lot of beauty in the darkness.

10. What/who made you start writing?
I read so many thousands of books as a child and a teenager. Often, after finishing a book, I would think "I wish I could write like this". Then one day I thought: "Maybe I can write like this".

11. What is your favourite word and why?
Elusive. See my time-travel answer above! I love the sound of it. It's almost onomatopoeic. I love mysteries that are haunting and insoluble, and the word “elusive” describes them perfectly.(Ed - Did you notice that John is being quite elusive himself by skipping one of our questions?)

12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
The Horse’s Mouth by Joyce Carey.

John Marsden is the author of numerous books for children and teens including the bestselling Tomorrow series. John's latest book, The Year My Life Broke, is a junior/middle fiction novel published by Pan Macmillan in December 2013. For more information, visit John Marsden's website.

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