famously known as the author of books like ‘The Book Thief’ and ‘The Messenger’ is going to be soon in the company of Asia’s brightest minds at the Mountain Echoes Literary Festival.
Ahead of the festival, the Australian Young Adult writer talked to Business Insider while still being focused on finally finishing his new book after- what he calls- ‘a good decade of false starts, failed attempts and misadventures’.
Excerpts from the conversation:
Q1. How can we focus on promoting local literature?
This has been a topic of discussion in Australia
in recent times, but more in the first step of keeping indigenous languages alive. In Australia, Aboriginal culture
has a vast multitude of languages (in the vicinity of two hundred and fifty) and many have been lost through decades of shame to use them, and decline through white invasion. I can’t claim to be an expert on this, but I know that family stories have been so important to me. If I was to use the term indigenous in my own case, I would think of the stories my parents brought with them to Australia, from Germany and Austria. There was a great willingness in them to tell those stories, and a great willingness in me to listen - and I think the first step to promote any kind of literature, be it indigenous or other, is that willingness to listen - to seek them out.
Q2. How can literature festivals like Mountain Echoes impact a country’s academia?
: These festivals bring writers and storytellers from all around the world together, and I guess the immediate impact is getting people excited about the possibilities literature provide us. I think of the Mountain Echoes Festival
as a series of many-faceted sparks, able to ignite not necessarily academia, but the imagination. As a writer, I have to confess that academia does interest me, but imagination is what truly excites me - to me, that’s where the magic is.
Is this your first time in Bhutan? What are you looking forward to?
: It is my first time to Bhutan, and for my sessions, I know that one is focused on The Book Thief
, as well as other writing, and another is on the topic of dystopia - which I may have to get imaginative on.
Q4. Tell us about your upcoming books. Are you planning on sticking to Young Adult as a genre?
: I just don’t even think about categories like Young Adult. The only ambition I have when I sit down to work is to write someone’s favourite book…It’s a lofty ambition, I know, but otherwise, what would be the point? If you fail, there’s no shame - there are so many great novels in the world. But you have to try.
As for my new book, it’s about a boy who’s building a bridge, and in doing so, is building his life into it - and he wants it to be perfect, to make something great and miraculous…A little like trying to write someone’s favorite book.