Before Markus Zusak became an international bestseller with The Book Thief, he wrote and published the award-winning novel The Messenger. The story of a Sydney taxi-driver’s extraordinary adventures, it has now been brought to television by the ABC. In this conversation about the joys and challenges of taking a beloved work of fiction to the screen, Markus will be joined by award-winning executive producer/writer Sarah Lambert (Lambs of God, The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart). Film and TV critic Wenlei Ma hosts the conversation.

Markus Zusak (Australian)

Markus Zusak

Markus Zusak is the bestselling author of six novels, including Bridge of Clay, The Book Thief and The Messenger. His books have been translated into more than 40 languages, to both popular and critical acclaim. He lives in Sydney with his wife and two children.

Sarah Lambert (Australian)

Sarah Lambert

Writer, showrunner and producer Sarah Lambert has created some of Australia’s most critically acclaimed, iconic and audience-pleasing drama series in recent years. She created, wrote and produced the smash-hit drama Love Child, which was the number one drama in Australia in 2014 and went on to enjoy four seasons. This was followed by the award-winning television adaptation for Foxtel of Marele Day’s Lambs of God starring Essie Davis, Ann Dowd and Jessica Barden for which Sarah was the writer and showrunnerThe mini-series went on to win awards here and overseas, breaking records with eighteen AACTA Award nominations, winning nine including Best Telefeature or Mini Series. Since then, Sarah has been the writer and showrunner on the highly anticipated television adaptation of The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland, for Bruna Papandrea’s Made Up Stories and Amazon starring legendary actress Sigourney Weaver. She is also a writer and executive producer of the adaptation of Martin Zusak’s novel The Messenger for Lingo Pictures and the ABC which is scheduled to hit Australian screens later this year.

Wenlei Ma (Australian)

Wenlei Ma

Wenlei Ma is the TV and film critic for, a weekly contributor on RN Breakfast, a regular on ABC radio and her film reviews are syndicated in The Sunday Telegraph. She has been a journalist for more than a decade, has been published in Empire and AdNews and is featured on ABC TV’s China Tonight. She is the chair of the NSW chapter of Media Diversity Australia.