Nick Earls is the author of twenty-six books for adults, teenagers and children, including novels that have appeared on bestseller lists in Australia, the UK and the Amazon Kindle Store.
Zigzag Street won a Betty Trask Award in the UK. Perfect Skin was the only novel to be a finalist in the Australian Comedy Awards in 2003. Its Italian edition was adapted into the feature film Solo un Padre, which was a top-ten box-office hit in Italy through Cattleya/Warner Bros.
He has written five novels with teenage central characters. 48 Shades of Brown was awarded Book of the Year (older readers) by the Children’s Book Council of Australia, and in the US it was a Kirkus Reviews ‘book of the year’ selection. A feature film adapted from the novel was released by Disney’s Buena Vista International. His earlier young-adult novel, After January, was also an award-winner.
Five of his books have been adapted successfully for theatre, with the Zigzag Street play touring to thirty-six cities and towns around Australia.
Nick Earls is also the author of the world’s first etymology-based time-travel adventure series for children, Word Hunters, which was shortlisted in both the Australian Book Industry Awards and the Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards. His subsequent book for children, New Boy, won Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year (8-10 years) and was shortlisted for the Children’s Peace Literature Award and the Griffith University Children’s Book Award.
In 2012, the Age included him among its top ten Greatest Living Australians (along with Bob Hawke, Warwick Capper and Shane Warne).
His most recent published work for adults is the novella series Wisdom Tree, winner of gold medals in the Independent Publisher Book Awards and the eLit Awards in the US, and the People's Choice Award at the 2017 NSW Premier's Literary Awards. Wisdom Tree was also incorporated into his creative writing PhD, which examined the impact of technology on novella publishing in the twenty-first century.
Nick's novel New Boy was the focus of an ABC Brisbane radio interview about migration.
NEW - See the Narrative Toolkit Video Streaming tab above for information on Nick's new initiatives for isolated learning or click here:
From lawyers to librarians to urban tunnellers, Nick Earls has produced entertaining and thought-provoking after-dinner talks for conferences, taking his own anecdotes and experiences and incorporating the event’s key messages and themes.
MCing conferences & awards nights, facilitating conference sessions
Since Mother’s Day at the Brisbane Sheraton in 1990, Nick Earls has put his MC and facilitating skills to good use at a wide range of events (way more than just the six times friends have called upon him to MC their weddings), working with organisers to ensure material is customised for the occasion.
This Writing Life
That time Nick had an Oscar winner as his publicist? The time his uni exam was saved by divine intervention? The canoe race when he partnered Mal Meninga? The test wicket he claims to have taken for Australia? One way or another, writing has taken Nick Earls to places he never thought it would, and he’s very happy to talk about it. He’ll even include some inside info on how some of his best-loved books came about, if you’d like him to.
Smallish But Perfectly Formed: the Novella (talk, masterclass or workshop)
From the author of ‘the most perfect novella in the history of the format’, an inside look at the crafting of mid-sized fiction, the features that can make novellas brilliant and an entertaining look at novella publishing across time. (needs data projection, can be done as a 45 minute talk for readers, or a 2-hour masterclass or all-day workshop for writers)
Reading in the 21st Century
This century, publishing has changed, lives have changed and, for many of us, the place of reading in our lives has shifted. In a talk that manages to draw in K-Pop star Psy, the Kardashian-Jenners, the ancient videogame Pong and journals including Science and Neurology, Nick Earls reviews these changes, looking deeper than the headlines, and making the case for making reading time in all our lives. Drawing on his PhD and other research, this talk somehow manages to be highly entertaining and evidence-based at the same time. Ideal for English teachers, teacher/librarians and any adults interested in the topic.
(30 minutes, needs data projection)
Narrative Toolkit (workshop)
Nick Earls takes some of the things he’s learned about writing and, in a series of exercises, turns them into tools that can be used to push past writer’s block and create compelling stories. Learn how to use simple questions to generate ideas, how to find and use detail to reveal place and character, when to enter and exit your story, how to find your story’s voice, and more. (Standard version 60 minutes, but can easily be adapted into longer and even much longer versions, incorporating more tools and more writing.)
Why Reading Rates
Why, when we have so many options, should we make room for recreational reading of fiction in our lives? Nick Earls takes a journey through his own reading history and its impact on his writing (specifically his award-winning YA novels After January and 48 Shades of Brown), and then looks at how reading works and why we should be doing it. Incorporating his own PhD research, K-Pop star Psy, the Kardashian-Jenners, cat memes and journals including Science and Neurology, Nick Earls pulls in everything to make an irresistible – and highly entertaining – case that reading is an excellent thing for us all to be doing. (60 minutes, needs data projection)
Narrative Toolkit (talk)
Advice about writing is common, but this talk adds tools to a student’s writing toolkit. Nick Earls has taken what he has learned about writing and turned it into tools that writers can use, consciously and deliberately, again and again, to take control of their writing and create compelling stories. From discovering and developing story and character ideas, to structuring a narrative, to writing and editing, this talk provides tools to empower writers to take command of each step in the writing process, and gives them something to reach for any time they’re feeling stuck. (60 minutes, needs data projection)
Narrative Toolkit (workshop)
Nick Earls takes some of the things he’s learned about writing and, in a series of exercises, turns them into tools that can be used to create compelling stories. Learn how to use simple questions to generate ideas, how to find and use detail to reveal place and character, when to enter and exit your story, how to find your story’s voice, and more. Invaluable for both enthusiastic writers and those who need to go into school writing assessments with more tools in their kit. (Standard version 60 minutes, but can easily be adapted into longer and even much longer versions, incorporating more tools and more writing.)
You’ve read the book, now what did you think of the film? With five theatre and two feature film adaptations behind him, Nick Earls knows what can go wrong and right with adaptations, and why. He also has plenty of behind-the-scenes stories to tell ... (needs data projection, best with internet access to show YouTube videos).
This Writing Life
That time Nick had an Oscar winner as his publicist? The time his uni exam was saved by divine intervention? The canoe race when he partnered Mal Meninga? The test wicket he claims to have taken for Australia? One way or another, writing has taken Nick Earls to places he never thought it would, and he’s very happy to talk about it, incorporating material about books and writing, and themes relevant in the classroom and students’ lives.
Smallish But Perfectly Formed: the Novella
From the author of ‘the most perfect novella in the history of the format’, an inside look at the crafting of mid-sized fiction, the features that can make novellas brilliant and an entertaining look at novella publishing across time. Great for any students thinking of entering the Somerset National Novella Competition, or completing a sizeable piece of creative work for assessment. (needs data projection)
From the Word Hunters book series, comes this entertaining and energetic spin-off live show, featuring images, props, games and loads of audience interaction. Where do our words come from? Why do we spell them the way we do? Why is English the weird and complicated language it is?
This talk introduces Lexi and Al from the Word Hunters books, while at the same time making English and its story exciting, giving students the tools to be word hunters themselves and giving them a new way of thinking about our language and how it works, including the evolution of language and factors behind it, and applying conventions and patterns.
(Needs data projection, standard presentation runs 45-60 minutes, expanded version with extra etymology runs over two 45-minute sessions, relevant to ACELA 1487, 1779, 1500, 1513, 1526 and 1539, and ACELY 1686 [but fun])
New Boy and the Migrant Experience
Using his own childhood migration from conflict in Northern Ireland and his central character Herschelle’s experience in New Boy, Nick Earls weaves fascinating and entertaining stories into a talk that looks at the personal stories behind migrations to Australia, with many opportunities for student thought and input. Available as an extended session designed for Year 6 curriculum units ACHASSK136 and ACHASSK137 looking specifically at migration push and pull factors, migrant experiences in Australia (including dealing with language and cultural differences) and the impact of migrants and immigration on Australian society post-1945. (needs data projection, standard talk runs 45 minutes, extended session runs 75-90 minutes)
Nick Earls’s Narrative Toolkit talk, delivered online, with a personalised video introduction for your school
- Writing advice from a practising fiction writer, entertainingly and memorably turned into practical tools students can use
- Students can watch from a classroom or at home, at a time that suits their schedule
- Opportunities for students to ask questions afterwards, with video answers from Nick Earls provided to the school
- A follow-on online workshop is also available, leading students through applying the narrative tools discussed in the talk
- The workshop video comprises ten steps, with students spending around two hours on preparation for writing (developing character and story ideas), two hours on a first draft and an hour editing, before sharing with their classmates
- An ideal activity for a time of relative isolation, and a chance to feel focused and productive
- Builds writing skills, confidence and enthusiasm
"A lot of great work goes on in classrooms, building up students’ creative writing skills. I want to build on that, by offering a fresh perspective – the perspective of a practising fiction writer with a kit of practical writing tools. Too often students get stuck waiting for the next idea, and that’s partly why I deliberately approach this from the perspective of having tools to reach for. I want to put a name to each aspect of story preparation and writing, and for each aspect to be approached consciously by the student, with the confidence that they have tools within reach to address any challenges.writing skills, confidence and enthusiasm".
Click to view a sample of Nick Earls Narrative Toolkit
Narangba Valley State High School students were enthralled by Nick Earls who visited in December. Despite near 40 degree heat inside our multipurpose hall, Nick had our Junior Secondary cohort (of over 1000 students) completely engaged in his humorous tales, modern references and passion for reading and writing. He actively encouraged our students to read more books and spend less time on their screens. We would have Nick back in a heartbeat! (But maybe, After January)
Narangba Valley State High School - December 2019Narangba Valley State High School - December 2019Nick Earls
Brilliant, refined talk for students that was entertaining and informative. Was incredibly valuable for the students.
Kingston State College - June 2019Kingston State College - June 2019Nick Earls
Nick did a fantastic job at engaging both students and parents at our awards night. Our students also thoroughly enjoyed getting to spend some time developing story ideas with him and getting valuable feedback.
Blackwater State High School - November 2018Blackwater State High School - November 2018Nick Earls
Great performance. Students loved Nick's knowledge and creativity with many languages and their origins. They also enjoyed hearing about his own life experiences migrating to Australia.
St Mary MacKillop Primary School - August 2018St Mary MacKillop Primary School - August 2018Nick Earls
Excellent presentation based on what I had requested. The boys were highly engaged and learnt a lot from Nick's experiences.
Anglican Church Grammar School - April 2018Anglican Church Grammar School - April 2018Nick Earls