Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Favourite Author Focus: John Marsden

Seven young people go camping in a wild place known as Hell. They emerge to find their homes empty, their animals dead, their country invaded. How much courage does it take just to stay alive?

As a break from exam study, and due to my lack of time to read more than half a book in the last week, I thought I’d update about my favourite author of all time. I started reading John Marsden’s books in 1993 at the age of eight. Since then, I always think of him first as my favourite author. He would be the author I would choose if I could only read one person’s books for the rest of my life, without a doubt. (Sorry, Neil, you know I love you, too.)

Is there something wrong when your main ambition in life is to be dead?

John Marsden, for those of you not from Australia (or somehow not aware of if you are Australian) is an Australian author who is most known for the Tomorrow series, the first of which is soon to be made into a movie. He writes about hard hitting topics in many of his novels - parental abuse and looking different in So Much To Tell You, psychiatric wards in Checkers, juvenile detention in Letters From the Inside, suicide and sex in Dear Miffy, parental deaths with an unexpected twist in Winter, and of course the possibility of invasion and war in Australia in the Tomorrow series. Homosexuality, anorexia, self-injury and many other ‘controversial’ aspects are also delved into across Marsden’s stories.

Dreamed about you again. Like I do most nights. Sometimes it’s nightmares. Sometimes it’s good dreams. Sometimes I have to change the sheets.

There is a band I believe saved my life, because I feel like without them I would never have been able get through some of the things I went through as a teenager. I think the same about John Marsden’s books. I have scattered memories of reading his books in numerous different hospitals, in waiting rooms, while listening to doctors’ have group meetings to talk about their future “plans” for me: taking my face off or breaking my jaw or cutting through my skull behind my ears to reconstruct my ear canals. I pulled ‘packing’ (special gauze) out of my right ear after having surgery when I was 12 years old because I was absent-mindedly fiddling with my ear while reading Burning For Revenge. When it came out, blood went everywhere. While my mother was panicking about my ear and the damage I might have caused, I was only upset about my now blood-covered book. The following year, when I first heard someone say something nasty to my face about the way I look, I thought, “This is how Marina felt.” That’s why So Much To Tell You is my favourite book of all time and the title of this blog.

I don’t know what I’m doing here. Well, I do, really... I have been sent here to learn to talk again. Sent here because my mother can’t stand my silent presence at home. Sent here because of my face...

John Marsden’s stories were, and still are, a significant part of my life and I truly cannot imagine my life without them. He is the only person I’ve ever drafted a fan letter to, multiple in fact (unless you count the letters I’ve drafted to the craniofacial surgeon I saw for 16 years; he is the person I admire most in the world). I felt like I couldn’t put into words what John's stories meant to me and still feel like that today. So let’s just leave it as this: they changed my life.

I’m an expert on fear now. I think I’ve felt every strong feeling there is: love, hate, jealousy. But fear’s the greatest of them all. Nothing reaches inside you and grabs you by the guts the way fear does. Nothing else possesses you like that.


  1. That was a pleasure to read.

    Now (as I just screamed at you in the other room) I remember how much I enjoyed
    "So much to tell you" and I really feel like reading it now. Your job was done :-)

  2. Great post :)

    John Marsden is fantastic! I was actually wondereing if your title "so much to tell you" was from the John Marsden Novel. I still remember reading it as if it were yesterday.. I think I started to read it as the same age as you as well!

    Oh Wow, now you're really bringing me back (letters from the inside). I have a sudden urge to read all his books again, I wonder if it will be different as a 23 year old opposed to an 8 year old, i'm actually interested what it would be like from my now, much older persepctive :)

    Take care L !


  3. So glad you're a fan! I like to re-read them all every few years; I find they are just as good as you get older, but in a different way sometimes.

    The quote underneath my title is from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, just in case you were wondering about that, too. Haha.

    Talk soon, KK :)

  4. Love this post! It almost made me cry (yes I'm a freak) Love you xoxo

  5. Haha, you're not a freak - you're a sweetheart :) Thanks for saying you love the post xoxo

  6. Linda, a friend of yours e-mailed me with your blog address and the suggestion I read what you have written about my books. I'm glad I did. Life can be painful sometimes, and yours obviously has been, probably many times, but our minds, although they often betray us, are our best hope of getting through, I think. By thinking about what is happening to us and devising different strategies for dealing with it, we are empowered. Books have aided me greatly throughout my life in my ability to think and therefore my ability to cope, and I'm honoured to think that my books may have helped you in a similar way through some tough times.
    Keep taking care of yourself, but keep taking risks too. Thank you.
    John Marsden

  7. This post is amazing Linda. You really are an inspiration, well to me anyway. So at least you can know that you have inspired one person. You have been through so much and yet you are so strong. I truly believe that there is nothing you cannot achieve if you set your mind to it.


  8. John,
    I can't really think about how to reply to your comment (and I'm not sure if you will read it) but wow, I can't believe you took the time to read my entry and write that lovely comment. You have no idea how much it means to me. If I could tell my 15-year-old self that this would happen in ten years, it would have made all the pain worth it in an instant.

    I hope you don't mind that I stole your book title for my blog, either!

    Thank you so much,

    PS, Next time you release a book, you should come to Western Australia and do a signing, okay? Haha. When you did an in-store signing for "While I Live", I was in hospital and my brother got two of my books signed for me :)

  9. Jules, you have no idea how inspirational you are just to be around because you are one of the happiest, kindest people I have ever met. There's definitely nothing you can't achieve, either. Thanks for your lovely comment. xoxo

  10. Linda, that gave me goosebumps! How wonderful that you have shared this with everyone! He certainly is a fantastic author and you are an amazing and courageous person!!

  11. WOW.
    So So happy for you, what an exciting moment to have John Marsden write to you!

    Looking forward to your next post.

    April Rose

  12. Thanks so much, April Rose! Just had a look at your blog and love it. The header photo is awesome! And I love the name April Rose, too, so glad you kept it :)

  13. I am really excited about Tomorrow when the war began film.

    I read all of John Marsden's books as a teen. I loved the Tomorrow series, Letters from the inside, Dear Miffy and Checkers.

    Thanks for the blog entry. Like you, I couldn't have gone without John Marden's books.

  14. Wow, just read all of the comments, and how wonderful John Marsden wrote to you!
    You must be so excited!

    I wrote a blog entry about my fave singer and she replied.

  15. I'm so excited about the movie, too, Carly! Glad you love his books as well. I was extremely excited when he wrote to me :) That is awesome your favourite singer replied to your entry. Now if only we could get Darren Hayes to reply to us! Haha.