Book People: Nick Earls
Book People: Nick Earls
Some people idolise movie stars. Me? I idolise the creators of children’s and YA books. I stalk them online (in a nice way) and I attend too many book launches and literature festivals. Through being involved in The Children’s Book Council of Australia I have become great friends with some wonderful authors, illustrators, judges and publishers. The world of children’s literature is full of creative, interesting lovely people! This series is about meeting these talented people and getting to know them a little bit better.
Each post is a great starting point for an author study in your classroom, or just for learning a little more about your favourite creator of children’s/YA books.
Nick Earls is a name all Australian readers will be familiar with. You may have studied his books at school, read them as a teen or adult, enjoyed his writing for various newspapers around the country or seen his books as a film or a play. ‘48 Shades of Brown’ was one of my favourite movies the year it was released here.
More recently Nick has ventured into the wonderful world of children’s literature with his fabulous new series ‘Word Hunters’, illustrated by Terry Whidborne who will be featured here soon.
I had a Year Five girl nearly cry this week when she saw I had the new ‘Word Hunters’ in the library. I kid you not she nearly burst into tears with excitement. That is a fairly good recommendation.
‘Word Hunters’ is the perfect series for middle to upper primary students and great for a class novel study. A series about the origin of words and some good old fashioned adventure…you can’t go wrong.
Ten Things You Need to Know About Nick Earls
Tell us about your latest book.
The Word Hunters series is about Lexi and Al, twelve-year-old twins who find an old dictionary in their school library. Something’s glowing inside it, and when they touch it, they’re blasted back into the past, to the final step in the evolution of the word ‘hello’. From there they have to find a portal that will take them to possible earlier steps, until a final portal takes them home. They’ve become word hunters, selected by the dictionary to travel in the past to secure the steps in the evolution of words so that those words continue to exist in the present. But that’s not all …
They learn that their grandfather, who went missing thirty years ago, might have been a word hunter too, and might be missing in the past. And they learn that the word hunters have an enemy. So, it’s a massive time-travel adventure series, where the travel happens to be based on words and the history of English.
How did you get started as a writer?
At childcare, when I was four, we were asked every day if we had news. I was four. I never had news. But I wanted a turn. So I developed a story about a bird called Tommy who got flushed down a toilet and emerged each day to a land of poo and big orange diggers. Since my audience was also four, their favourite things included poo and big orange diggers, so more instalments of the story were called for pretty regularly. That was Ballyholme playgroup in Northern Ireland in 1968. Eddie Izzard went there too.
Can you describe your workspace for us?
I can do better than describe it. I’ve attached a picture. Some people might say ‘untidy’. My father would be one of them. It’s not always this bad, but it’s never tidy. But I know where everything is, so it’s a filing system designed with my brain in mind. My father’s made remarks about tidy workspaces and tidy minds, but what tidy mind every wrote a great novel? He’s a management consultant. He’s welcome to tidy.
What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical writing day involves me putting on the clothes I dumped next to the bed the night before, and then sitting here silently writing. There will also be a run at some stage (followed by a shower and fresh clothes), often a childcare drop-off and pick-up and some meal contemplation and cooking. Or sourcing of takeaway. It’s the opposite of a book tour day, when I pay at least some attention to grooming and talk a lot.
Any words of advice for young readers and writers?
For readers: Enjoy it. Reading is one of the most useful skills you’ll ever have, but make sure you keep using it for fun too.
For writers: Read. Think. Don’t rush the writing part. The more you think about what you’re writing, the more choices you can make.
Do you have a favourite book or character?
I don’t have one favourite book or character, but every couple of years a book amazes me and reminds me how good books can be. It also reminds me why I got so excited about this job in the first place. The earliest book I can recall in that category is Dr Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham. One of the more recent is Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned, a brilliant collection of short stories by the American writer Wells Tower.
If you were not a creator of books for young people what would you be?
A creator of books for middle-aged people. But if you rule out book creation entirely, chances are I’d still be putting my medical degree to use in some way.
What is your favourite food to eat and/or your favourite music to listen to whilst you are working on your books?
I’m into a low-stimulus environment when I write. Anything else is a distraction. So, nothing auditory, olfactory, gustatory or visual (other than the familiar patch of wall in front of me, and the screen). When I need a break, sometimes I find myself contemplating what I’ll cook for dinner. Some of my better food ideas have come while my brain’s numb after a burst of writing.
How much of yourself or people you know is in your books?
Book seventeen comes out today, so either I have a totally fascinating life and totally fascinating friends, or I’m making a lot up. In Word Hunters, the central characters fight at the Battle of Hastings, get the blame for a tenth-century robbery in Normandy, visit Edison’s lab while he’s inventing his part of the phone and drop in on Shakespeare and the King’s Men while they’re workshopping Macbeth. I have to admit to not having done most of those.
If you could have one wish for the world what would it be?
I’d like everyone to have good reason to go to bed each night optimistic about what the next day might bring.
All the Nick Earls books which are in print can be seen and purchased on the Nick Earls Author Page on Booktopia. I particularly LOVE the ones with the very cool retro pattern covers and WANT them just because they are lovely looking. That is possibly a bit shallow but they really are so pretty.
The titles of each book takes you to the Australian based online bookstore Booktopia. If you live in the US or would prefer to use Amazon click here. If you live in the UK or would prefer to use Book Depository click here.
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