Nick Earls writes long, short and medium-sized fiction, so far tallying 28 books for adults, teenagers and children.
Reputable reviewers have compared his work with that of Nick Hornby, Raymond Carver, Martin Amis, VS Naipaul, JD Salinger, Woody Allen, David Mitchell and Jeffrey Eugenides, which just goes to show that, if you write enough and publish enough, anything can come your way.
He is the winner of a number of awards, including a Betty Trask Award (UK) and a Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Award. His Wisdom Tree novellas have won gold medals in the Independent Publisher Book Awards and the eLit Book Awards in the US, the People’s Choice Award at the 2017 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards and an Australian Book Design Award.
Perfect Skin was the only novel to be a finalist in the Australian Comedy Awards in 2003, and was adapted into a feature film in Italy (Solo un Padre, Warner Brothers/Cattleya). 48 Shades of Brown was a Kirkus Reviews (US) book of the year selection, and was adapted into a feature film in Australia (Buena Vista/Prima). Five of his novels have been adapted into stage plays.
He has also written for newspapers, including the New York Times, the Guardian, the Australian and the Sydney Morning Herald. In 2018, a commission from the William Robinson Gallery at QUT led to him writing William Robinson: a New Perspective, an exploration of the life behind the artist’s work.
His novels have appeared on bestseller lists in Australia, the UK and the Amazon Kindle Store.
His PhD thesis ‘Wisdom Tree and the Novella in the Twenty-First Century’ examined contemporary novella craft and publishing, putting him in the unusual position (for him) of being able to substantiate what he’s saying about this topic. He has distilled his 3.5 years of PhD research into a two-hour masterclass on novella craft and markets which he has so far delivered in most Australian states.
He was born in Northern Ireland, but has spent most of his life in Australia. In 2012, the Age included him among its top ten Greatest Living Australians (along with Warwick Capper and Shane Warne …).
Novels, Novellas and Short Fiction Collections (English language)
After January (aka After Summer)
48 Shades of Brown
World of Chickens (aka Two To Go)
Making Laws For Clouds
The Thompson Gunner (aka Tumble Turns)
Joel and Cat Set the Story Straight (co-written with Rebecca Sparrow)
The True Story of Butterfish
Welcome to Normal
William Robinson: A New Perspective
For Children (primarily – adults welcome too)
– The Curious Dictionary
– The Lost Hunter
– War of the Word Hunters
– Top Secret Files
Cashed-up multi-millionaire or Hollywood studio or streaming service (or struggling film-maker) with a burning desire to turn a Nick Earls story into a film? School interested in booking the live version of Word Hunters or New Boy, or Nick Earls’s high school sessions on writing and reading? Conference organiser with a posse of urban tunnellers, artisan cheese-makers or endangered venture capitalists to entertain between mains and desserts, and think Nick Earls might fit the bill? Please contact Caitlan Cooper-Trent at Curtis Brown in Sydney.
Author interested in being mentored through a book-sized project? Nick Earls is part of the Australian Writers Mentoring Program.
Nick can you please contact me at the below email address. Many thanks.
Hi Nick – greetings from NYC. Can you please drop me a line to my email – I have an idea…many thanks
Dear Mr Earls,
The National Library aims to build a comprehensive collection of Australian on-line publications by identifying and archiving online publications that meet our collecting scope and priorities. Information about PANDORA, Australia’s web archive and access to archived titles can be found on the Library’s web site.
If you could provide an e-mail address to discuss archiving your website that would be greatly appreciated.
Hello Nick, I thought you may be interested in this information about a melatonin related anti-depressant agomelatine that is new to the market in Australia:
Turns out Jon Marshall was on the right track! fame and fortune could have been his!
It’s never easy being a couple of decades ahead of your time. At least a few of us know he’s due a share of the credit.
Dear Nick Earls,
“…does he need it to beep as it backs out?” is the funniest thing I have ever read. LOL indeed.
That is all.
I’ve waited 16 months for someone to say that – thank you.
I’m not sure if you’d remember me, but I attended a writing sort of seminar on the Gold Coast, with a couple of other authors, I was the only child/teen there and after I bought one of your books, “After January” I was wondering how you were going with your writing since then? 🙂
Hi there. A few days at the Gold Coast and away from my novel was good for me – the sense of perspective helped me realise where I’d drifted off track. I came back, found the voice I think I need and I’ve been working hard at it since then. >30,000 words in a month. Which is good, but I need another month like it again right now … I hope all’s been going well with you.
Pingback: Breakfast at Cafe Checocho | Father and Son Blog
Hello Nick Earls
On the 26/08/13 I went to the Melbourne writers festival with my school and I heard you talking. I then went to my school library and borrowed the first word hunters book and I couldn’t put it down. They are really good books. Right now I am almost finished the second book. I was wondering if you are going to write more books or if its just a trilogy. You’re a great author. Please reply to my email.
Sorry to take weeks to get back to you (I don’t think I’ve replied? have I?). Straight after the festival I left the country to hike on glaciers and do other things not ideally suited to being online. But I’m back now, and it was great to see this message from you. It’s really good to hear that about the books.
We wanted to finish book 3 with a bang and make it a satisfying conclusion, but without closing off the possibility of writing more – maybe another trilogy. I’ve found plenty of other words with great stories behind them, or that would take Lexi and Al to really interesting places and times. Now all I need to do is find 3 years in my diary to do the writing …
In the meantime, we’re looking at doing a spin-off book related to the first three, but with a different format.
The most important thing about writing new Word Hunters books is knowing there might be some people wanting to read them, so your message is a good start.
Pingback: Best book club reads for 2012 | book coasters
I rcently attended your “Characters” workshop in Adelaide. I’ve only been seriously writing for about 4 months with the Ayr “Pen Pushers” QLD. I was totally blowen away with what we did that night. Learnt so much. Great to do some workshops at this early stage, saves bumbling around and can get a bit more focused. Will take your ideas back to the group so we can all grow.
Jane Ayr QLD
I’m very glad to hear it was useful. It was good to meet you there.
I hope the rest of your SA visit goes well.
I’m trying to track down the name of a song that you sang/spoke on several years ago. You know the one with the “the paper clips are starting to matter” line….
Also with whom did you collaborate with on the record ……..
I haven’t heard it for years and it seems to have dropped out of the public consciousness ….or at least Google’s radar.
It was good record ……I’m surprised that you didn’t go on to and become a famous recording artist 😉
You have an impressive memory. The line comes from ‘Stationery’, from the album ‘Ten Things You Should Know About Sex’, which might have been credited to me and Iczer One, with Iczer One (after that known as I/O) being one of the projects of Brisbane sound guru Lawrence English. There were remixes on there by a number of people, including two of the Resin Dogs. One of the oddest moments of my career was when the clock radio, set to Triple J, woke me one morning with the sound of my own voice, and that song.
Despite sporadic national airplay and a barnstorming set at the ’99 Livid Festival, the CD tallied around 300 sales, and world domination wasn’t to be.
Found your first Word Hunter book in Mount Isa City Library (excellent source/resource for a bookworm), couldn’t put it down; nagged (requested) them to get me the second one, and hung out on a leafless branch for the third (oh, no, that can’t be all in the series), found it in a totally unconnected catalogue. Now own a physical copy of all three. Will there be more? Please. What part does Terry play in the scheme of things? Thank him, too, please.
I have always loved words and how people like you put them together, and plus: you sent Lexi and Al on marvellous journeys to find origins of words. With the economy of the number of words in each book, you should be set to write – if necessary with different characters/scenarios (is this the plural of scenario?) as the protagonists, for the next hundred years or so. Mind you, you would be able to keep using Lexi and Al, they are young, and their dad and grandad are still involved (as I am) all their lives.
I am waiting (not with bated breath, as it’s a long process) for grandchildren, nieces and nephews to show signs of having enquiring minds and a love of books and adventure, so that I can introduce them to your Word Hunters and, perhaps, entymology. Some are getting there – one lot is showing signs of interest in science/green science, others are into the Wishing Chair and the Faraway Tree adventures of Enid Blyton and the Silver Brumby series, so they are getting there – the others are too young yet, but it only takes time.
What I need, for me and for them, are Word Hunter badges (not-too-expensive, but long-lasting), so that others can readily identify them amongst the millions of unaware, disinterested persons who have yet to be turned onto your books and perhaps, through them, to entymology – there’s obviously lots of work still to be done. It should be a nicer word than ‘work’ – I don’t have very fond memories of work; though many of my words came from there, it kept me from reading much, much more (and I enjoy reading upwards of three-to-four hundred books a year), despite having to shop, stow the shopping, get it out again, cook and eat it, then clean up, clean the house, keep in contact with family and friends and loving my man (this is a want-to-do and a pleasure) – left to myself, I would be eating raw vegetables, pouring in water and the occasional cappuccino/green tea/mint tea/etc., and ensconced in various comfortable places, reading, reading, reading. I subscribe to the ‘Dust if you must’ school of thought, favourite quote, from Quentin Crisp “If you don’t dust for seven years, it doesn’t get any thicker”. Can’t leave it quite that long in Mount Isa – lead in the ground means lead in the air, and other nasty chemicals, too.
Didn’t think I’d rattle on this long, Best be off and doing, so that, necessaries having been done, I can get back to reading.
Please answer me about Word Hunters badges soon. I hope you are not presently away on glaciers, or up mountains away from your emails – though I understand why it is important to do this sometimes. Could there possibly be a Word Hunter key for ordinary mortals to buy, too?
(Family names Boag (Roman ‘boga’ – bridge); Howes (?), Hallam (‘Hall’- ‘kind’ and ‘forgiving’, perhaps servant/chamberlain)’, Lucas (?), Lane (seems obvious, but is it?)
Hello Lorraine – it was great to see your post. I’ve emailed you on the address attached to your post. If that address is no longer active, please let me know another.
Hello C: I’m doing a World Author’s Project and for my author I chose you. Unfortunately I can’t find as much information on you as I need. I was wondering if you could contact me by email. This project requires personal achievements and about your life growing up and your family, current and old. If I can’t get this information that is okay but it will kill my english grade.
Have a nice day 🙂
Hi Ellie, Maybe you didn’t get my email? Anyway, if not, please go ahead and send some questions to me at nickearls at optusnet dot com dot au
Nick got some Collatral from 4IP W#e obviously had an impact on that 20 year ol in1980…….=-+ a Best Of my Gotcha calls Alan McGirvan Love the book.
As someone who’s spent some time inventing a 4IP legend over the past couple of years, it’s great to hear this from the genuine article. Quite a few people have been reminiscing with me about your 4IP days since the book came out.
Thank you so much for Jessie’s signed book received today! If I wasn’t very happily married and safely (for you) far away in Perth, I would be there grabbing both cheeks and saying ‘I love you’! 🙂
Thanks for letting me know it got there, and for the virtual cheek squeeze.
I’ve also waxed lyrical on my blog… 🙂
Hi Nick, where can I send a copy of my book ‘How Shrinks Think’ coz you helped inspire me to be a doctor writer, TY Helen
PS Analogue men is a page turner & laughed at Ripper 76 description
It’s very good to hear all of that – thanks Helen. It’d be great to have a copy of the book. The best address is PO Box 461, Toowong, Qld 4066. Thank you.
I’m glad you liked the post on our school Blog about your book “New boy”. Our Year 5 students are reading this as a serial novel. Many of the students at our school in Roxburgh Park are refugees, thus can relate to your main character. They are loving the book and I have just bought more copies, as there is a long waiting list to read it. Do you do school visits? Is there any chance you could pay a visit to our school?? The students would love to meet you. Regards Barbara Johnson
Thanks very much for your message.
I really appreciate what you’re doing with New Boy with your students, and it’s very rewarding to hear it’s made a connection with some who have come here in challenging circumstances. It means a lot to hear that.
I’m based in Brisbane and don’t have any Melbourne trips in my diary at the moment, but if that changes I’d certainly be keen to come to your school and meet your students.
In the meantime, thanks again for getting in contact. I tried replying to the email address that came with your message, but my email bounced back. In case it’s useful, my email address is nickearlsauthor at gmail dot com.
Pingback: Industry Insider: To plot or not to plot? | Allison Tait
I just finished your book AFTER SUMMER. At first I thought where is this guy going-what is this? But it didn’t take me long at all to fall in love with the story and characters. It’s quirky and fun and reminds me of my own youthful summers.
From U.S. – Texas
Thank you. It’s great to hear that a book closing in on its 20th birthday can still work for a new reader. I really appreciate you letting me know.
I have been wanting to reread your story about the guy who lives in the brick flat in Brisbane and has a mad crush on his hairdresser.
I believe I first read this in a collection of Australian short stories I have but I have been through all my shelves and books and can’t find this particular story.
Can you please tell me if it was in fact published in a short story collection i.e. Australian Summer Stories or Hot Sand or Splash or similar so that I can relocate it.
Thanks for feeling such a need to hunt this story down. While it first appeared in A Sea Change (an anthology put together as part of the cultural program in the lead-up to the Sydney Olympics – hard though that might be to believe) and then in my 1999 collection Headgames, my guess is the book you’re thinking of is its next appearance – in Penguin Australian Summer Stories No3, in 2000. It’s got a Penguin orange spine that’s dominated by the title and the cover features a Rex Dupain B&W pic of Bondi surf lifesavers and their boat.
did u intend on dan from 48 shades to be a whiny bitch
I guess he’s open to that interpretation. There’s certainly a lot going on in his head. Most readers I’ve heard from haven’t been inclined to sum it up the way you have though.
Many thanks for putting the Novella in the spotlight and many more thanks for writing such a fine collection of them. I have long been a fan of books that fall into my ‘rule of thumb’ (i.e. something no thicker than my own thin one). It is difficult to find books in the library published after a certain date (I’m thinking 23 May 1968?!) – many classics but not so many contemporary ones, and so I buy my own. Thanks again and well done on having the courage to take on writing as a profession in a time when many beautiful minds do not.
Thank you Jess.
I really appreciate hearing this. I’m with you when it comes to appreciating short books that are well-written. I’d like to be part of persuading publishers to be less wary of them, and less inclined to urge writers of novellas to pad them out into novels. I don’t think padding for the sake of size is ever a good thing.
It needs a few more people like you to show publishers there’s a market for novellas, and get excited about publishing them.
I just want to thank you for the opportunity to catch up with you after all these years. I attended literary evening with my daughter at Mt St Michaels way back in 2011 or 12. It was great to see you. Back in early 1990’s I remember very clearly when you called me to say you will not be coming back to work as a locum and that you are going to write stories and try to be an author. Naturally I was excited for you but also sad as you were a very popular locum. On the night at Mt St Michaels I bought 6 of your books which you kindly autographed. I unfortunately did not get a chance to read any of your books until Boxing Day due to being busy running Medical Recruitment. Since I sold the company 3 months ago I finally had time to read them and have read 4 of the six books and can’t put them down. As soon as I finish one I start on another. I love reading about your medical escapades, however my favourite so far is World of Chickens. I could envision that as a medical student you would have been more like Phil than Frank. I love your medical stories which I can relate to so well. Also I love that you identify suburbs, landmarks, roads and describe the scene of the times so clearly. Your books bring back my youth. I will be stocking up on the remainder of your collection for my up coming cruise. I have been telling our staff about your books and hopefully they will buy. I look forward to reading more of your book for years to come. Keep writing and if possibly more relating to medicine as I understand doctors so well.
It’s great to hear from you. I’m glad to hear there’s travel ahead, and I hope life after medical recruitment goes really well.
I still find myself occasionally telling the story of the time around 1991 when someone a long way outside medicine attempted to set up a new practice at Camp Hill, in a building that had been a real estate agency, and approached you about staffing. I turned up on the first Monday, saw one patient in the morning and was promptly grilled over the phone by the owner about why I wasn’t overservicing the patient. When I continued to refuse to do that, he called you to fire me, then you called me to find out exactly what had happened. You stopped providing staff to him and the building was back being a real estate agency not long after. I always appreciated that support from you.
It’s very topical that you mention World of Chickens. Even though my books have moved in somewhat different directions more recently, it’s been very much on my mind over the past few weeks as work continues on a film adaptation (I’m one of the co-writers). It all depends on the funding coming through, of course, but I’m feeling very good about where it is at the moment.
Enjoy your cruise, and thanks for spreading the word about my writing.
Hi Nick, . A bit of bother with your message this morning. First of all, I saw your name, then “whoomph” the message disappeared. Later, I searched in another inbox (I have three different inboxes receiving emails to email@example.com – don’t ask!), and found it… . Double clicked on “Download message and pictures (28.3 Kb)”- nothing happened. Double clicked on icon promising to “Open message in a new window” – nothing happened. Thought, well I’ll reply and ask for a re-send, and the message was “Download in progress. If you reply, your message may be incomplete”. Waited, and waited, and waited – nothing happened. . So, as you see, I can’t reply, as I don’t know what your message said. Could you please try again? Have you written another book for me to enjoy? Hope so. . Regards, Lorraine Lane
Sent from Mail for Windows 10
Just saw your message from January – WordPress filed it somewhere odd. I didn’t email you at that time, so I hope whatever the email was it hasn’t caused you any problems.
Hi Nick, hope you don’t have to wait a year to see this one back to you, and that you have gained a measure of control over WordPress and where it files emails. No idea what I wrote about last January; life just runs so fast, even in Mount Isa, one hardly has time to process into short-term memory, let alone long. I have just read “Analogue Men” again, enjoyed again. Hope more books are planned. Any possibilities on the Word Hunter front? I’m still volunteering at Outback@Isa, talking to visitors (though there are fewer with the hot weather at present) and ushering for events at the Civic Centre – recently a simulcast from QPAC in Brisbane of “Don Quixote” by the Teatro Alla Scala, Milan – wonderful.
Hope the Christmas season is enjoyable, and that 2019 is wonderful and fulfilling for you and yours.
Your beloved ice cream is available at Woolies!!
Thank you for your insight.
It’s a relief to hear it’s still widely available in the world, despite Coles’ miscalculation.
Hello from a fellow Queenslander. I have just discovered your work (sorry to come to it so late) via Borrow Box (the qld library app) where Francis Greenslade reads them. Seriously enjoying audiobooks for a change. As it happens, I’ve just recently read of your Wisdom tree novellas, and there is ‘reputedly’ a bundle book with all 5 novellas in the one printing. I’ve been attempting to get this book and no Sunshine Coast bookstore seems to be able to help me. When you have time, I’d be interested in your advice about where I could buy this publication.
Hope you are still writing. 🙂
I’m glad to hear you’ve found my books. I wish there was a physical bind-up of all the Wisdom Tree novellas, but unfortunately there isn’t. It’s been discussed, but it hasn’t happened. I can’t say it never will, but it’s not in the works at the moment, and the only publisher with the right to do it has written a very clever memoir that will soon be published by Allen & Unwin, so she’s not publishing anything at the moment. Physical copies of the individual novellas are still around, and they do make a very nice set, but a couple of the novellas are likely to run out soon. The five have been brought together in audio form by Audible, and as an ebook in the US, but the only printed version is the individual novellas.
Thanks for your interest.
Thanks for your reply regarding this. I have not had success regarding these, although I did find and buy a copy of Joel and Cat Set the Story Straight in a vending machine, for which I took a photograph of, if only for its strangeness. Keep on writing, storyteller.
Thanks for sending the pic David. I had no idea books in vending machines was a thing but, since it is, I might as well be there.
Dear Nick Earls,
i just want to thank you for writing such enjoyable and entertaining books that are set in Brisbane. I’ve only just started reading your books this year, and I have loved seeing my home town on the page. At the moment I am working my way through your novellas (Juneau next!), so far they read as pocket sized books of genius. Entertaining and profound.
I was wondering if you will be holding your Writing Novellas presentation again in Brisbane anytime soon – or if the course notes are available for purchase anywhere?
All the best with you future works!
I saw your post while deep in some work, and now I think I only replied in my head and not in real life. It was lovely to read what you had to say – thank you. While I have no plans to run my novella masterclass or workshop in Brisbane in the near future, I will be doing the 6-hour workshop version of it at Byron Bay on 7 March (I recently posted a link on my events page). So, if you were thinking of ever having a weekend away in Byron, this could be a chance to taken down two birds with that one stone. I don’t have a formal version of the course notes, partly because I update them regularly with new publishing/comp opportunities and partly because I should sit down some time and take the relevant bits of my thesis and do it comprehensively. But that hasn’t happened yet.
Thank again. And, if I’ve already replied once and I’m losing my mind, my apologies.
I’m just starting to increase my Goodreads presence as a reviewer, and have reviewed After January here…https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3500674632
Amazing book, and thank you for it. It took me back in so many ways, but one gift it did give me was remembering how much I loved the Housemartins in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Completely forgot them until I came across Caravan of Love in this book. Thank you for that gift.
Thanks for that David. It’s very nice to see a book almost quarter of a century old still connecting. I now feel an irresistible urge to play some Housemartins myself, and will go an do that …