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 Australian 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 of Marele Day’s Lambs of God, for which Sarah was the writer and showrunner. Lambs of God was in official competition at Series Mania in 2019 and was nominated for eighteen AACTA Awards, winning nine including Best Telefeature or Mini Series. Sarah also co-created the 65-part teen show Aliens Among Us for the ABC and C5 in the UK, writing and directing over thirty episodes, shooting in the US, UK, France and Australia. Sarah is a 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. Sarah is working on her highly confidential series, developed with Blumhouse Productions in the US and Joel Edgerton. Her next original series, a genre-bending female revenge series, is in development with Simon Maxwell’s Motive Productions in the UK.

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.