Posts Tagged 'The Book Thief'


Ever since I was little I’ve experienced a certain kind of overwhelming feeling – often when looking at something inspiring someone has created. It’s like a bigness within me. A swelling in my chest. A feeling that I could laugh and cry and scream all at the same time. I’ve long had trouble articulating it, but I think it’s a need to express something.

I’ve since realised that it is this bigness that I am chasing every time I sit down to write or draw. It’s as if I’m trying to capture it, that essential thing that drives me as a person, and with each project I feel I’m getting closer. But when I finish, the feeling is always still there, so I delve into the next project. It was Isobelle Carmody who first named this for me. In a workshop of hers I attended back in 2006, she said we all have questions that drive us as writers, and each novel is an attempt to answer them.

I still get it most strongly when viewing others’ work. A brilliant film, an inspiring piece of design, a lyrical dance, a moving piece of music. I experience it when I watch many of Hayao Miyazaki’s films, like Mononoke Hime and Nausicaa: Valley of the Wind. I had it when I read The Book Thief, and more recently while reading A Small Free Kiss in the Dark. But my favourite of the moment is the music of Mumford and Sons, four young men from West London who speak to my soul. Listen to this live version of ‘White Blank Page’ and see if you don’t want to go out and create something beautiful:

Feel free to share the things that inspire you.

A Sentimental Moment

Rabbit - lonelyI love my local writer’s centre. They provided many ‘firsts’ for me. They were the first writing organisation I joined. In their wood paneled foyer, I first said out loud my deep down dream of wanting to be an author. They ran the first workshop I attended, where I started to believe that maybe I could do this. Their magazine informed me of the opportunity that lead to my first paid acceptance. Their e-mail bulletin advertised the competition that lead me to meet and sign with my agent. Not only have they paved the path for me, but they have been there to celebrate each of my steps along it.

Anyway, you may ask: why the sudden sentimental moment? Recent events have me reflecting on my journey more than usual (and the people who have played a big part in it). So I was touched when the lovely girls down at the Queensland Writers Centre asked me to join in their annual blog tour. Which I shall – by answering the following questions:

Where do your words come from?

My words ultimately come from the things that move me: things I see that make me laugh and make me cry. I’m an emotional sort of person. As a children’s writer I suppose my words also come from my childhood. I’m still fascinated by the way kids see the world – the way they’re so open to ideas and people and places. Often my stories come from an experience I had as a child, but I rarely recognise this until I stand back from my work.

Where did you grow up and where do you live now?

I grew up in a small coastal town called Mackay. I was one of those barefooted kids who spent their life on the beach. I still miss the smell of the salt and burnt sugarcane (sugar is a big Mackay industry). I now live in sunny Brisbane in the suburb of Ashgrove, which seems to be a mini hub for children’s writers. Must be something in the water.

What’s the first sentence/line of your latest work?

‘It’s said that the most haunted part of any town is its graveyard, but in Cain’s village it was the old church.’ It will be a mid-grade novel about black magic and bounty hunters and 17th century beasts. It’s a tale I’ve been wanting to write for a long time, but the first sentence only seeped into my mind the other day, bringing with it the world of the story. I’m now letting it simmer away a while before I delve into the first draft.

What piece of writing do you wish you had written?

The Book Thief. I love the way Markus Zusak plays with language. He uses words in utterly surprising ways that are so unique and perfect. I always remember that one of the characters is described as having ‘gangling blue eyes’. More recently I’ve fallen in love with Glenda Millard’s A Small Free Kiss in the Dark. Go read this book then come back and tell me how much you loved it.

What are you currently working towards?

I’ve only just received my first contract for a picture book I wrote and illustrated, which will be published by Viking in the US (an imprint of Penguin). I’ll be working with the lovely editorial team at Viking over the next while to make it the best it can be. In the meant time I’m also trying to look towards the future and keep working on my other picture books / novel projects. Ultimately I still feel like I’m working towards the same goal I always have – striving to be the best writer and illustrator I can be.

Complete this sentence: The future of the book is…

Ever evolving. I’m not sure where it will take us, but I’m excited that I get to be a part of that journey.

This post is part of the Queensland Writers Centre blog tour, happening October to December 2009. To follow the tour, visit Queensland Writers Centre’s blog The Empty Page.

About this Blog…

A blog of ramblings about the world of writing and illustrating for children, by an author / illustrator who might just have a thing for rabbits.

Katherine's picture books, 'Squish Rabbit' and 'Brave Squish Rabbit', are out with Viking (Penguin, US) and UQP (Australia). Please e-mail if you would like her to blog about something in particular.

All text & images  Katherine Battersby

Released Sept 2012:


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