Monday, August 29, 2011

MWF 2011: Meet Nick Earls


From the MWF Program: Author of best-selling YA books, including After January and 48 Shades of Brown, Nick Earls talks about his writing career and what has made his books perennial favourites with young adult audiences.

I feel like I should start this post with a (slightly embarrassing) disclaimer: I have only read one Nick Earls novel! I know, I'm completely ashamed. I have started 48 Shades of Brown at least three times, and each time (for some reason or another), I haven't finished it. After hearing Nick speak today, I have now resolved to rectify this as soon as possible!

Nick Earls & Mike Shuttleworth before the event
  • This event was chaired by Mike Shuttleworth and held in one of the ACMI cinemas. Megan and I were mistaken for teachers, and managed to score second-row seats when a large group of school kids realised they were in the wrong session haha.
  • Mike introduced Nick, and spoke briefly about Brisbane being used as the setting for all of Nick's novels (which I found to be interesting) and the way Nick has "helped give Brisbane a new image".
  • Nick spoke about studying medicine at the University of Queensland before deciding to properly pursue writing (originally, he had intended to do a gap year but was discouraged by his father).
  • I want to say now that Nick Earls is a really engaging speaker and that if you get the chance, go see him in person! He is extremely personable and just has these great anecdotes.
  • Nick spoke about writing real characters, about having embarrassing things happen to said characters and the way these things do happen to real people. He talked about the choices you make in writing and the way they "shape the story and the people in it".


  • Nick discussed the development of his writing, including the way Alex from After January developed from a character in a short story. He spoke about how much of his own experiences (and conversations with his mother!) ended up in After January, and mentioned that the story "almost became a film".
  • I loved that Nick spoke extensively about the film adaptation of 48 Shades of Brown (as if you read this blog, this is definitely an area I'm interested in - the relationship between texts in different media and adaptations of stories from page to screen). Nick not only shared some great insights from the set (like the film's producer arranging free beer and Chupa-Chups), but also talked openly about how, as a writer, he felt about his work being adapted.
  • Nick also talked about his writing process, including the way he plans extensive outlines before beginning a first draft. His most recent novel, The Fix, was started eight years ago and he didn't begin writing it until he had a 20,000 word outline! He likened his outlines to detailed road-maps, and said that he liked learning all the details to fit in his stories.
  • I found that I kind of stopped taking so many notes about two-thirds of the way into the session, as Nick is so easy to listen to and you definitely get caught up in his anecdotes! Another great event (good start to the School's Program!) and I now absolutely promise (I'm writing it here so you can all hold me to it), to read and review at least one Nick Earls novel before the end of the year!

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