© 2024 Iowa Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Author Markus Zusak reveals process behind 'Bridge Of Clay'

Talk of Iowa, hosted by Charity Nebbe

Thirteen years after the release of his internationally bestselling novel, The Book Thief, author Markus Zusak has emerged with a novel he describes as his most personal yet.

Bridge of Clay tells the story of five brothers living alone together after their mother's death and their father's abandonment. The fourth brother dreams of achieving greatness through building a bridge. As the nonlinear plot jumps through time, the many pieces of the boys' lives are revealed.

Zusak says the first spark of inspiration for the novel came to him more than 20 years ago while walking around Sydney, Australia. He began imagining a boy by the name of Clayton crafting a bridge. "It was always about that idea of this kid that wanted to build this beautiful thing," Zusak says. He rewrote multiple manuscripts over 20 years before settling on a finalized version.

Zusak says the beginning, ending, and title of a book are often the first things he comes up with while establishing a new story. In the case of Bridge of Clay, Zusak wanted to convey in the title that Clayton poured himself into the molding of the bridge.

In this episode of Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe and Zusak also talk about the inspirations behind Zusak's most well-known work, The Book Thief, which follows a young girl living in Nazi Germany.

This program was originally produced on October 21, 2019.


  • Marcus Zusak, author, Bridge of Clay
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Katelyn Harrop is a producer for IPR's River to River and Talk of Iowa