That Time We Saw Markus Zusak

I was looking up some clever alliteration to title posts about author signings, and one of the suggestions was “Author Affairs.” And I was like, hmmm, I don’t think that’s exactly what I’m going for.

Libby and I have a very disorganized and spontaneous way of doing things (like, “let’s drive to another state [Pennsylvania] today for Dairy Queen!” spontaneous), so it seems fitting that we found out Markus Zusak would be in the area about three days before the event was happening. We were coming from two different places, I was very late, Libby’s phone and therefore GPS died, but the important part is that we made it. The event was sponsored by a bookstore, and they were selling beautiful tenth-anniversary hardcover copies of The Book Thief, which we each bought a copy of even though we both already owned it. We have no self control when it comes to buying books.

Libby and I unsuccessfully tried to combine our vast (not true) and great (also not true) photography skills to attempt to get the iPhone to focus on both the book in the foreground and Markus Zusak in the background at the same time, while Markus Zusak was telling us a mildly alarming anecdote that involved something about his mother beating his father over the head with an off-brand Monopoly board. And I think there was a thing about Christmas movies?

IMG_4813Do you also feel the need to say his whole name every time you reference Markus Zusak? In my head it’s like “Markuszusak” all bunched together. It’s one of those names that must be said together. Like, you can’t just say Markus or Mr. Zusak. It’s gotta be Markuszusak.

A few quick Markus Zusak stories from Markus Zusak himself (limited to what I can still remember three weeks after the event):

  • Markus Zusak was at a wedding and some drunk woman told him that she had tried to read his book, but she just couldn’t get into it. And then she kept telling him this, over, and over, and over. And somehow Markus Zusak didn’t smack her (Markus Zusak did not say this last part).
  • If you’ve read his series Underdogs, you should know that appears to be very inspired by real life (see: mother beating father with off-brand Monopoly).
  • GOOD NEWS: he’s working on a new book. He even read out loud from the first page for us. I didn’t really pick up much about it out of context (there was something about a typewriter I think?), but I’m very excited that something is in the works!

People definitely don’t talk enough about how Markus Zusak is a NATIONAL TREASURE. I really don’t know why Nicholas Cage even tried stealing the Declaration of Independence when he could’ve gone straight for Markus Zusak. Except, wait, Markus Zusak is definitely Australian, so I’m not really sure if we’re allowed to claim him as our national treasure. But like, we were standing in line for the signing, and I was being a bit cantankerous because frankly, it was 9:00pm and nearly past my bedtime (I share a sleep schedule with the elderly and with infants). When it was our turn to get book signed, I realized it took so long because Markus Zusak may in fact be a literally gem. Not only did he sign every single book in our stack, he also drew tiny little Sydney Opera houses and dog cartoons in all of them. And managed to laugh at my lame jokes while he did it (Markus Zusak: “What’s in your backpack?” *Looks at the ginormous backpack that I am kicking along the floor.* Me: “Like five books, a laptop, and some rocks just for funsies.” *Polite laughter all around*).

Anyway, Markus Zusak is amazing. We actually left the signing line saying “wow! he’s so great! what a lovely person! so gracious! so good at making small talk with us in a way that made us feel special!” And he agreed to take an awkward photo with us! Because awkward photos with authors is becoming our specialty.


I am not actually a giant in real life, it’s the angle of the photo, I swear. Or maybe I am, and I lied to you just now. YOU’LL NEVER KNOW.

2 thoughts on “That Time We Saw Markus Zusak

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