Friday, February 10, 2012

Unfurl Blog Tour: Giveaway And A Guest Post by Cidney Swanson!

FINDING THE GEMS: A Tribute to Marcus Zusak - Guest Post by Cidney Swanson

Hi Megan! I’m so happy to be visiting your readers today. There’s a question I’m often asked during interviews: “What one book do you wish you had written?” I’ve always answered The Book Thief. If you’re not familiar with the book, here’s one tiny haunting moment, which provides a good example of Zusak’s style as a writer:

She leaned down and looked at his lifeless face and Liesel kissed her best friend, Rudy Steiner, soft and true on his lips. He tasted dusty and sweet. He tasted like regret in the shadows of trees and in the glow of the anarchist’s suit collection. –Marcus Zusak, The Book Thief

In an interview, I don’t get the time to explain what it is that I loved about the book, or about Zusak as a writer. So I thought I’d take these few minutes to expand on how I’ve found inspiration in some of the things Zusak says about writing. If you have read and loved The Book Thief, you may have come across this description of his writing:

I like the idea that every page in every book can have a gem on it. 

When I first read this, I thought, “Yes!” I knew this was the singular thing I’d been reaching toward: to make sure there was one sparkling bit of language on each page that would make a reader sigh or smile or cry or remember when. Zusak’s idea of a gem on each page has kept me revising hour upon hour. But the final product is always worth the effort.

Zusak continues:

It’s probably what I love most about writing—that words can be used in a way that’s like a child playing in a sandpit, re-arranging things, swapping them around.

I love this image, because at its best, this is what writing is like for me. Playful and full of give-and-take. When too many of my sentences begin with a subject, continue to a verb, and end with a direct object, I know it’s time to play. How can I switch things around? Make them interesting? If I’ve written too many long, comma-filled sentences in a row (yes, Mr. Robinson-from-ninth-grade-English, I was listening) then I know it’s time to pop in a very short sentence or two. This is play, to me. Of the best kind.

So, while the story is what starts me out when I write, the words themselves are what propel me through the dark days when I’m sure what I’ve written is awful dreck. How can I dredge through this muck and find that gem? And in the end, this provides a nice balance: spending some days writing the story down as fast as my fingers can fly and then sinking down into the words on a single page and swapping them around until they shine.

So thank you, Marcus Zusak, for giving me that image of a gem that can be placed upon each page. Thank you for the hours of intense and often frustrating labor, and thank you for helping me, in the end, to make my stories a little bit better.

Markus Zusak, The Book Thief, (2005, rpt; New York; Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, 2007), p. 536.
Markus Zusak, Afterword, “In His Own Words—A Conversation with Markus Zusak,” The Book Thief, (2005, rpt; New York; Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, 2007), p. 11.

Thanks for letting me visit!
    Author Bio:
    Cidney Swanson is the author of The Ripple Series. She began writing at age seven; her first novel began with “Ouch,” and her characters have been suffering ever since. Cidney lives in Eugene, Oregon with her husband, three kids, two cats, one dog, and entirely too much rain.



    To be entered to win an e-copy of the Ripple Trilogy (Kindle only), complete the mandatory entries and then fill in all the applicable entries on the Rafflecopter form. There will be ONE winner. This giveaway is OPEN INTERNATIONALLY!

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    1 comment:

    1. Just stopped by to visit your blog and wish you good luck in your giveaway.