Nick Earls: Award-winning author of fiction and short stories

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image-nickearls200Nick Earls is an award-winning author of 12 novels and two short story collections. His latest is The Fix, is the story of a wannabe investigative journalist working instead as a fixer – the PR spin-master who can get any client out of a bind.

Nick has written both popular adult and young adult fiction. His books for kids include After January, and 48 Shades of Brown, which won The Children’s Book Council Book of the Year Award (older readers). It was also made into a feature film in 2006.

Of his popular fiction novels he is most well-know for Zigzag Street, which has been adapted for theatre (and plays regularly in Brisbane), and his 2009 novel, The True Story of Butterfish.

Click play to listen. Running time: 38.42

The Fix

Transcript

* Please note these transcripts have been edited for readability

Valerie
Nick, thanks for joining us today.

Nick
Oh, thanks for having me. It’s great to get the chance to talk to you again.

Valerie
We’re very, very excited about your latest book, The Fix, tell us a bit about it.

Nick
Well, it was a long time happening, really, the first idea came on maybe eight years or so ago. And, the idea at that stage was that I might write about someone who was a private person doing a non-public job whose two most significant things that he would like to keep private have become very public, that being his dodgy businessman father, who’s no longer with us and his role in a siege at work, for which he’s being awarded a bravery decoration. I thought it would be interesting to write about somebody like that.

But, the more I thought about it, the more I thought, “Maybe that person’s not my central character, maybe I don’t get into that person’s head and reveal everything. Maybe it would be interesting to let that person remain a little enigmatic, and a bit of a mystery, and a bit elusive.” And then I thought, “I need another character to narrate that character, someone to put close to that story whose got something at stake himself, some vested interest.”

And, that’s how I came up with Josh, the central character, who is the PR guy being the medal recipient through the process of winning the award. But, the problem is, the more Josh tries to get Ben ready, the closer he looks at the siege story and the more the cracks in the story start to show, and it looks as though someone has been trying to fix the story before Josh came along, to polish it and take it out to the public.

Valerie
Do you know a fixer?

Nick
I know quite a lot of people who work in PR, which is not exactly the same as this, but it’s a kind of close cousin or sibling of this sort of job. And, I’ve had quite a few books out now, so creating someone who works in spin and gets someone ready for interviews is not a huge stretch, because I’ve been spun myself and had people get me ready for interviews, so I’ve been in that role. And, it’s been interesting to be sort of on the inside of that.

And, then over the past few years various companies have faced scandals. I think we’ve all had the chance to see them on TV. Deep in the pit of the scandal, when things are at their ugliest, and then things start to shift a little and they get ‘back on message’ as people might say, and you see in the background of the scene, there’s often someone in a suit trying to blend with the wallpaper, and that’s the person who’s been called in to get them out of the hole.

Valerie
Now, most of your books are set in Brisbane, including the latest one. Why have you decided to stick with such a familiar setting? You know, there are some people who live in Brisbane, or Sydney, but they decide to set their books in New York or the Irish moors, or something like that.

Nick
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I don’t think I’ve got an obligation to set things there but -m and I’ve been doing some writing where I set things in other places, but I think my stories are about the people in them, and the stories themselves. And, I think most the time I want to focus all of my creative attention and my imagination on the characters and their story. I learned a while ago that if you’re not inventing a place, or having to familiarise yourself with a very unfamiliar place, then you don’t have to spend all your creative capital on coming up with the details of the place. You might as well use the world around you, because it’s the thing you know best, then you can direct your story telling attention to your characters and the story itself.

And also, if you use a world you know, or a world you can easily get to, and I guess that can also apply online now as well as physically, you find small details that give you new ideas for your story.

I think, for me, if I’m writing contemporary fiction I might as well set it in a place that I know. If I were to write something set 3,000 years in the future or 3,000 years in the past, I wouldn’t be setting it in contemporary Brisbane, and I’d have to devote a lot of energy to creating a place. But, there’s no need to do that if I’m writing the kinds of stories that I am, and I can give the stories a lot more attention if I just use the place I know.

Valerie
So, there’s very practical reasons too.

Nick
Oh, it’s very practical; exactly. That’s right. What it does is if people know these places, in the case of The Fix know Brisbane and the Gold Coast, then they’ll find little things in there that’ll be familiar, and that’s a nice experience, as a reader. But, if they don’t know them, it’s not a problem at all because we’re all used to reading books from elsewhere. If we couldn’t read books from places we didn’t know, Steve Glassman wouldn’t have sold near as many in Australia.

So, we can do that. I’ve had mail from people in Scandinavia reading my books, and fascinated to read about Brisbane, and actually thinking it’s quite an exotic place, which is not the way a lot of local people might think about it.

Valerie
No. So, as you say your books focus on the people, you must be quite an acute observer of human behaviour, or must need to get those skills. What do you do? Are you a bit of a people watcher? Do you sit and think about why people react in the way they do, like many actors do? How do you actually get into that kind of mode?

Nick
I guess, for me, this has been in development for a long time, the way I do this. I did a medical degree in the ‘80s and then spent time working in psychiatry after that. If I’d gone on to stick with medicine my plan was to specialise in psychiatry. I was kind of interested in the way people’s minds work long ago. And, I want my characters to feel real, I want them to feel like real people that you’re eavesdropping upon, rather than types, or rather than people who’ve been constructed as some kind of device that’s part of the story.

I need to pay attention to the real world, and do quite a bit of thinking about why people do what they do, and why they say what they say. And, I think the more you do that with the world around you, the more little fragments you might pick up, that might be useful at some point in a story, or might trigger something completely fictitious that will be useful in a story – and a lot of my stories, and certainly this one, are built up from a lot of small pieces. And, I think we’ve got to give them the time to kind of come together, and then let ourselves interrogate those pieces and think, “What is this story? Who are these people?” And, that’s when I kind of build on that, and want to create characters who people get to know piece by piece, the way we get to know people.

Valerie
Your readers might get to know them piece by piece, but when you actually develop your characters, or your key characters, do you, before you even start writing, have their entire back story mapped out and really know them intimately, or do you let them develop on the page?

Nick
I do a lot of work beforehand. I don’t necessarily know everything about them, and I don’t have some kind of formal chart that I draw up where I work our their height and weight and whatever else. I know more than I need to know, and that’s the bare minimum, I think. I need to know more than I am going to put in the novel, because that puts me in a position to choose the best, and most informative, and most interesting bits to include in the novel.

And, I know there are some people, of course there are writers who do it differently, who explore this process during their first draft, and end up with first drafts that are very drafty, and end up writing lots of drafts. That’s one way to do it. I prefer to do that beforehand, before I write the thing that I view as my first draft, and I like to have a period of time where I let myself think quite divergently. I think about the characters, I think about the story. I add a lot of notes to the side and I don’t throw any out. Everything remains possible for quite a long time, until there’s a lot of stuff there and I think, “Surely I’ve got more than I need now.” “What is my story?” “Who are these people?”

And, I start pulling that out of the folder, and that’s when I make choices, and I think, for me, the first thing to do is to create a lot of possibilities. The second thing to do is to look back at them, scrutinise them closely, and make choices. I’m in a better position to make the choices if a lot of things are possible. And, then from those choices I put together my outline. And, because I’ve spent a while getting to know the characters in the story, the outline is often about a quarter of the length of the novel, and contains chunks of conversation and things like that.

So, then, when I sit down to write my first draft, I’ve got an awful lot of stuff there. I’m free to have new ideas while I’m writing it, and free to be cleverer than I have been before, it’s great if that happens.

But, it does mean I’m a lot less likely to get stuck, because I’m not trying to find myself 40,000 words in thinking, “What happens next?” Because I know what happens next. But, if something odd comes along and happens next, that’s great too. But, I’ve got an idea where the thing finishes, and I’ve got a kind of roadmap that will get me there, and yet the freedom to explore other things if they come along. It seems to me like a mixture that works, for me at least.

Valerie
I mean that’s great that you have less chance of getting stuck because you have, as you said, all those chunks of stuff. But, then you may face the situation of working out, “Well, which ideas are worth investing in,” and going down that rabbit hole; which are, “Oh my God, this could be a big risk, I’m not sure, but maybe I should go there anyway, but it could waste weeks…” How do you determine what to choose, what to actually spend your time on?

Nick
Yeah, that’s an interesting part of the process. Yeah, I try early on to kind of stress test some of the ideas a bit, to push them, work out and think, “Where is this going to take me?” “What implications is this going to have?” “What possibilities is this idea going to create?” And, “What possibilities is it going to shut down,” which is probably at least as important, if not more important. So, I try to work through a lot of those things before I do the actual writing, but I’m open to learning things when I do the writing.

The other thing, I think, is that people, when writing first draft, have to give themselves the freedom to write a first draft. It’s not the finished product. It’s actually OK to try some things that don’t work out, it’s better than trying nothing at all.

So, there are going to be things – I was actually looking through this morning, and realising with The Fix – it’s been out a few days now, and people have been asking me, with the central character Josh being a blogger, and there’s mention of his blogging topics in there, and they said, “What’s his blogging actually like?” And, I realised that – there was one time sometime between maybe the first and second draft, or second and third draft, I’m not sure – I’m not sure really which to call an entire draft and which not frankly because there were a few sort of times I fiddled around with it. But, there was one time when I was thinking, “Maybe I should write those blogs, and include them in the novel in sort of breakout boxes,” and things like that. But, then I thought, “No, I’ve got a lot of story happening here. I’ve got more story than usual. I’ve got a whole lot of stuff to deal with and it feels like good stuff, so I should back that. I should not digress to include lots of 500 word blogs on quirky subjects.” But for a couple of drafts, I did have half a blog, half of one of his blogs in there, so people could see that.

Two hundred and seventy three words on the subject of toothbrushes, and why they’d evolved from the very straightforward toothbrush of 20 years ago, to the toothbrush we have now with the contoured chubby grip and the flexible neck and three different kinds of bristles that costs you $6, as opposed to your rather straightforward one, which may cost you a $1, and is it any better for cleaning your teeth? So, that was one of Josh’s blog topics. And, I did kind of write half of that blog and include it in the novel for a few drafts, but then even that got cut.

So, it’s OK, I think, to put things in there and then question them later. And, I think the job of subsequent drafts is to take a fresh read at something, ask all the questions you need to ask, and then go back and write another draft with a new agenda.

And, then of course at some point an editor comes in with a fresh pair of eyes and a whole lot of expertise and asks a lot of rigorous questions again. It’s not as though things can just sort of drift into a novel and pass through undefended, without scrutiny. I think that’s a really important part of the process, but you shouldn’t kind of live in fear of the scrutiny, or live in fear of including something that might one day get cut out, because you get a good few shots at it before the finished product comes out, and I think that’s a good thing.

Valerie
You may have killed off Josh’s blog posts in the book, but did you consider letting his blog live on beyond the book, as in online? Josh actually blogs?

Nick
Yeah, yeah I did. I did consider that. And, there are a bunch of blog ideas mentioned in the book that I thought would be amusing ideas to write about. There’s one that Josh – that’s in there early on where – I learned it form the newspaper, because there’s lots of things I’ve torn out of newspapers, and wondered what I’d do with and that actually fitted with this blogging job. And, there was thing that I read once that said the worst month of the year for office photo copy repair people is December, because of the office Christmas party, and people having far too many drinks, and then photo copying their buttocks, because the braking strain of the glass is 55 kilos. And the other important thing is that the temperature of the light is 170 degrees. So, you know, it’s a significant occupational health issue, hopefully you don’t come into direct contact with the lamp, unless the glass cracks at the exact wrong moment, but you’re still pretty close.

So, you now, Josh goes and follows a photo copy repair guy through the offices of Brisbane, the morning after various Christmas parties repairing the glass, and I liked that idea. I was tempted to write that, but then I realised, in the case of that one I actually liked it more as an idea, and I didn’t really know what I’d do with it as a blog. So, this was a chance to get quite a bit of use out of a range of amusing ideas that looked like they had blog potential, but in fact, did their best work in 25 words or less.

Valerie
Yes. You’ve been writing books for a really long time, 20 years or so now. Has a lot changed in the publishing landscape? Of course a lot has changed, but in terms of how you feel you need to approach your writing and marketing your own books, do you think that has changed a lot?

Nick
Hugely, yes. Well, some things have changed hugely in some cases it’s important to kind of get back to the straightforward principles and not be shaken off balance too much. I think I’ve learned a lot about how to find and how to write a story. And, I haven’t changed what I do there very much. I think there are going to be new art forms out there, which involve text and a whole lot of other things, and a whole lot of people are collaborating with a whole lot of high speed internet connections and that kind of thing, but that’s not a novel. I do like writing novels, and I hope to keep doing that.

So, the actual writing of the novels, for me, hasn’t changed a great deal. The process of bringing them out into the world has changed a lot. Book tours now, you still do a lot of interviews, but schedules change at much shorter notices now.

But, more than that you’ve got to maintain a web presence, not just when the book is new, but all the time. Last night I got my 3000th follower on Twitter. I’m on Facebook, as well. I’m blogging now. I just posted the piece of Josh’s toothbrush blog that I’d edited out from an earlier draft of the novel. And, there is a real change there, where you’re kind of connecting with a wider world, connecting with other writers, and publishers, and people who are in those media too, which is great. But, also you’ve got a kind of global community of readers of whatever size, and it is kind of nice to maintain a relationship with them on an ongoing basis.

I don’t know how much of an impact that has on the sales of books, maybe it does and maybe it’s great. But, no one I know is now brave enough not to do it. You kind of have to be out there doing that.

Then, of course, the other thing we’re facing is the big shift in the book itself. The thing that seemed to be the big issue a couple of years ago, and is genuinely a big issue, that being people buying paper books online from international retailers rather than from bookshops, because international retailers don’t have the wages cost, and don’t have the rental cost, the two biggest costs in most businesses. So, they can undercut them, and the price structure changes.

We’ve been facing that, but of course, eBooks are the big thing we’re facing now. We’ve kept talking about it as the future, but the future is here. And, it will be the biggest change in the industry, I suspect, since 1450, since the invention of movable type. It’s that big a deal. It will affect different bits of the industry differently.

From the point of view of writers though, we’re going to still need stories, we’re going to still need writers. There are some pluses there; one is that backlists won’t have to go out of print. When a print run kind of winds down and a book is selling slowly, now a publisher is likely to kind of let it peter out, an eBook doesn’t have to go out of print, because you don’t have do it a 1000 of them or 2000 of them to keep it in print. You don’t even have to use print on demand to keep it in print, it has a unit cost of $0, a storage cost of $0, and it comes into existence when someone clicks on a button and buys it. So, backlists don’t have to go out of print, that’s good.

Another thing that I think is potentially interesting is that different forms will become a lot more viable, one in particular that I am interested is the novella. Where, if you think about publishers publishing books on paper, the novella is, for all intents and purposes non-viable. It’s very rare to see a novella published, and it only happens in specific circumstances and that’s because if you write a story that’s 20,000 words long, to actually put it into a standalone paper book the publisher is probably not going to be able to bring it out for less than about $20, which means it’s competing with books that are four times the size. But, as an eBook none of those rules apply.

So, you can put out a novella as a stand-alone commodity, electronically, and sell it for $2 or $3, and maybe we’ll find that there’s a market for things like that. For two or three hours of written fiction entertainment, something the length of a movie, or the length of a lot of plane flights, and at a price point of $2 or $3, maybe we’ll find that there’ll be a bit of a surge in that form in the years to come. I think that would be great.

Valerie
Is that something you’re excited about then, these new changes?

Nick
Yeah, I’m trying to be. I think it’s too easy to be 100% afraid. I think it would be irrational to be 100% excited. But, I think you’ve got to set the needle somewhere in between. I think, as far as eBooks go, they’ll have a big impact on book retailing, and that will shake out seriously over the next few years. And, that’s not always going to be easy for authors also. Putting eBooks out is going to be very easy, selling them is going to be a different matter.

You want to be found by people who go looking for you, but you also want to be discovered by thousands of people who aren’t looking for you, and that’s going to be the hard thing. We haven’t really cracked that one yet. So, there are risks out there, and there are going to be lots of eBooks that find very few readers, but there are also going to be some that find lots, and the trick is working out how to be in that group and some people will be there. I think we have to look on it while it does come with its challenges, it’s going to come with opportunities too, and we’ve just got to keep our eyes open for what those are and how to make the most of them.

Valerie
One key way, which you’ve mentioned already, is the importance of having a web presence. Is that something you, as you are talking about Twitter, and Facebook, and blogging, and your website, is that something that you enjoy? I talk to a lot of writers who resent that and don’t actually want to nurture an online presence. What are your feelings on that?

Nick
Yeah, when they say they resent that, did they say that to you in an interview or did they just say that in a conversation?

Valerie
In a conversation.

Nick
Yeah, you’re not really allowed to say that you resent it and put that out there, because it’s not going to look good. I think there are – it too comes with its risks, that you can find yourself tweeting so much that you forget to be a novelist, and I don’t plan to do that. But, you need to offer more than just a way for people to buy your product via Twitter, you need to give a bit more back than that. But, I think if you can manage its demands on your time, and the temptation to be there a lot of the time, and if you can remember to write the novels and have a life, both of those things are quite important, then it can be fun. It actually can be a great way of staying in contact with people. It can be a great way of finding things out as well.

I’ve learned things from being on Twitter, from other people’s blogs, from links people have posted, just from things people have said. Opportunities come up – I’ve been approached by publishers and film people on Twitter and Facebook. So, there are reasons to be there, and there’s fun to be had, but it’s not in itself a job, and you do need to remember to do the job as well.

Valerie
You said, being approached by film people, now a few of your books have been adapted for theatre and feature film. Tell us about that process. Is it difficult to watch your novel being turned into a film, or is it really exciting?

Nick
When it’s not going well, it’s sort of as difficult as you allow it to be. If it’s not going well, you’re better off running away and remembering they’re paying you good money, and that you allowed them to do that in the first place. I think you need to go into the thing setting your sights pretty low, when it comes to what the outcome might be. Probably the main thing to hope for is that the check clears, beyond that don’t hope for a great film. And, if you get one that makes you happy, realise how lucky you are and be glad you’ve got it.

Valerie
Wow.

Nick
I think that’s, you really do have to be that pragmatic about it. If you go into it starry eyed, you’ll be crushed like a bug most of the time. So, it’s better if you’re selling your film rights not to hope that you’ll be ecstatic about the result.

In my case I’ve been lucky, 48 Shades, the film adapted from short 48 Shades of Brown, while it didn’t do great box office, it was a film I really liked, and a film I would happily have paid money to see, and that’s not because I did a four second cameo at the deli owner. I had one line. Apart from my four seconds, it was a great film.

And, Perfect Skin becoming a film – well, that happened in Italy. It was an adaptation of the Italian edition of the novel. They did a really nice job with that. It was a nice Italian film with a big heart, and I would have been happy to see that as a film as well, so that’s lucky. But, you don’t always get that lucky.

I’ve got some people working on adapting my work at the moment, and I hope it works out, but it’s a tough job, getting a film adaptation up. Sometimes it feels – it makes being an novelist feel almost relatively easy, and there’s not many things that do that.

Valerie
There’s so many people involved, there’s so much collaboration. It’s crazy.

Nick
And they’re so much money, and so much input from those people, particularly the ones who sign the check. That’s one of the things that goes wrong sometimes, is that someone loves your book, and wants to make a film. And, they might have great ideas, but their take on it might or might not be like yours. But, even if it is like yours, they’ve got a dream of the film they want to make, but unless they’ve got $5 million or so to back up that dream someone else is going to be funding it, and that someone else’s main concern is not your book and not their dream. It’s getting their money back, because they’re making an investment, that’s their main involvement. I think it’s entirely understandable that those people are thinking about box office, and thinking about returns. It doesn’t make for good films; it doesn’t make for films that resemble the novels that they’re being adapted from, but if someone’s stumping up a big wad of cash, I can completely understand why their main concern is not losing it.

Valerie
Now you write adult books and young adult books. Particularly, with the young adult audience over the last twenty years or so, that audience and the types of books for that audience has changed a lot over that period. What have you seen and how has that impacted your writing?

Nick
Yeah, I haven’t written a young adult book for a few years now, not many years, but a few years. I’ve written five of them, the first one was After January in 1996. The most recent was Joel and Cat Set the Story Straight, which came out in 1997, and during that time I felt that –

Valerie
1997?

Nick
Sorry, 2007, thanks for that. Yeah, it’s not like I crammed in five of them in a year and then stopped. No, five of them in eleven years.

During that time, I felt that I could kind of reconnect with my teenage self well enough, and the way I felt about me and the world then. And, that was a good way in to writing that kind of fiction. It feels to me that more has changed in the last five or ten years than has changed in the preceding twenty,  with being a teenager, right or wrongly, it might just be me being older. For a start, the gadgets seem different, but you can always get past that, but the way they communicate now, using them is rather different. So, there’s a lot to learn about being a teenager in order to write a teenage character.

But, the positive thing is anytime I work with teenage people in schools I often meet great people who don’t feel very different at all to the teenagers of thirty years ago, in terms of their spirit, and their outlook, and the kind of people they are, even if they are trying to negotiate a rather different world, and a world that includes a whole lot of things other than books, a lot more distractions, a lot more potential entertainment than I faced thirty years ago.

So, it’s not always easy for books to fight to hold their place in that. But, any time I hear someone say things like that or say it myself, I’ve got to remind myself, I do repeatedly bump into 15, and 16, and 17 year old people who love reading books, and who totally get the pleasure that I’ve always got from a well told text-based story that’s tens of thousands of words long, whatever we do when we generalise about their attention spans and how much they’re on Playstation, and Wii, or whatever else.

Valerie
Now, The Fix is done, what’s next for you? Are you already working on your next novel?

Nick
I’m working on my next book, which is going to be a collection of short stories. I’ve done a couple of those before, one was my first book 19 years ago, which was pretty much bought only by my mother, which is great, but you can’t rely on mum for a career. The second one, Headgames, in 1999 had a very different life to that, which is great. And, after that I worked for a while on war child fundraising anthologies, and most of the stories I wrote went into those, which is a different kind of story, and it was great being part of that project, and it raised $3 million or more. It was really a very good thing to be a part of.

But, after that I took sort of a bit of a pause for a while, and then a couple of people asked me to write short stories a few years ago. And, I started writing them again, and got really excited, and thought, “This is the form that I really want to get back into,” and that really helps. If you’re feeling that, if you’re feeling excited about it, you’re certainly looking around for short story ideas and seeing their potential again. And, I thought, “I want to do more of this,” so I’ve been doing a bit of that.

Valerie
What’s exciting about it? Is it quicker gratification than a novel? What is it?

Nick
That is part of it, and I think sometimes, sometimes when a small idea comes along, you realise it’s one piece of a massive jigsaw puzzle and needs to be part of a novel. Sometimes when a small idea comes along you think, “This needs to be where it needs to be.” Some ideas really suit short stories or novellas, shorter length forms. And, it’s better if you don’t over-complicate them.

And, it did kind of clear my head a little sometimes between drafts of The Fix to have a small sharply-focused, bright idea to focus on and turn into a short story. You can think in a different way – a novel is too big to keep in your head at one time. That might just be the size of my head, but I don’t think I’m alone in that. One of the hard things about writing a novel, I think, I do a lot of planning, so I’ve got the novel there to write, but at  no particular point, if you’re in anywhere in the middle of a novel, it’s a bit hard to see the beginning and a bit hard to see the end, whereas a short story doesn’t feel like that. It is a little different to write in that way, and it was refreshing to get back into it, and to write a story over the space of a few weeks, or a month, rather than something that might have taken years.

Valerie
So, it’s like a coffee break for you?

Nick
Yeah, yeah, or a palette cleanser between courses, one of those sorts of things. Yeah.

Valerie
Sounds good. On that point, on short stories, for aspiring writers out there who would love to see their own novel finalised one day or published one day, what’s your advice for them in terms of, should they be cutting their teeth on short stories or should they plunge straight in to the novel?

Nick
I don’t think there’s one right answer, I think short stories are very worth while working with. But, if the idea that you’re most excited about needs to be 80,000 words long, then don’t turn it into a short story just because I said, “Short stories are a good idea.” Give that one the space that it needs. But, if you’re finding that you’re coming upon ideas that might work really well with short stories, don’t fight them off just because a novel seems like a more commercial prospect because there are avenues for short stories. There are people publishing short stories. You can put them online yourself. And, it’s also a great opportunity to flex your writing muscles and learn even more about who you are as a writer. And, sometimes short stories end up triggering novels anyway. There are quite a lot of reasons to write them.

I actually enjoy reading short stories, some of my favorite books are collections of short stories, even though publishers are a little bit scared of them and always work on the idea that an author’s short story collection is going to sell half to two-thirds of what their novel value. It’s not always the case, it’s often the case, so publishers don’t get excited when you go, “My next book’s going to be a collection of short stories.” But, sometimes they just have to be, because some stories have to be short.

And, I think what writers early in their careers should be doing is pursuing the ideas that excite them the most, working out the best formatting which to deal with those ideas, and working out the business side of it, as a kind of separate thing. Give the ideas your creative best, and then when you’ve got your best work there, look around and work out where it should be going. Join your state writers’ centre, or your local writers’ centre, get involved in things online, look at the publishing opportunities out there, look at the competitions for which you’re eligible. And, send the work out to them, expecting that you won’t win, expecting that you won’t get any kind of great return. But, anytime you do win, any time you’re short-listed, you’re way ahead of where you were before, you’re starting to build up a CV.

Valerie
Wonderful. On that note, thank you very much for you time today, Nick.

Nick
Thanks very much, it’s been a pleasure.


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