My left 6th or 7th rib is bifid anteriorly. That means it starts as one rib and then sort of divides into two. Sound slightly icky? It’s not. I’d have no idea of it if I hadn’t seen it on an x-ray. You could meet me and think I was skeletally standard issue, unless you had x-ray vision.
2. What is your nickname?
I don’t think I’ve had one for years. When I was at school I once had a boil on my nose and that led to ... No, we’re not going there. I’m not revealing the nickname of a dodgy-nosed low-level Melbourne gangland figure that I ended up with for several months (way longer than the boil). If I put it out there, too many people I know will bring it back to life.
3. What is your greatest fear?
I’m 49, my son is 3. For his sake, I need to live a long time in good health. My greatest fear is that I won’t.
4. Describe your writing style in ten words.
Curly indeed. I’m a novelist. It takes me tens of thousands of words to say most things.
5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.
Persistent, focussed, learning, improving, game
6. What book character would you be, and why?
I’d be the dog in Footrot Flats – plenty of great stuff to roll in, no responsibilities that I wasn’t more than prepared to take on, a dog leading a perfect burden-free dog’s life.
7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why?
There are some dazzling moments of history I’d love to witness, but if you go back before the mid 19th-century, the toilets were mostly awful (or at the very least waterborne diseases were rife). Okay, there are exceptions. The Romans knew how to run water through a toilet, as did the Muslims of Granada. And some others I’m sure. It would also be unwise to travel too long before the invention of modern antibiotics.
Mostly, my immune system is not built for the ancient past and I hear the mobile reception is terrible there.
I’d like to go to the early 1960s to buy as many Berkshire Hathaway shares as I could for around $11 each. They’re now worth more like $140,000.
I’d like to go back to the mid-1980s, but without the issues I had last time. I would get to discover some great music all over again, though this time I’d be a genius who would never need to study, and great girls would all want me. I’m sure that’s not too much to ask.
Setting ancient toileting issues aside and assuming I’m only allowed to pick one place and time (which, actually, is a little mean of you if you’ve developed time travel – you could at least let me go more than once), I might just pick the Library of Alexandria before it burned down in 48BC. I had to research it in some detail for the first Word Hunters book, and I suspect the amount of knowledge it had was awesome. Like the word hunters, I’d try to fill my arms with scrolls and bring back whatever I could.
8. What would your ten-year-old self say to you now?
Your ears are no closer to your head. I honestly thought you would have had kids last century, but that’s a nice one you’ve got yourself now, old man. And, seriously, you get to do writing as a job? I never thought we’d make it. It means you’re amazingly rich and your best friends are mostly movie stars, right?
9. Who is your greatest influence?
My parents read me stories from birth. Maybe even before birth. And my mother made up a series of bedtime stories, all set in the woods near our farm in Ireland. For me, the line between people who wrote books and regular people who told stories was blurred from the start, story telling was normal and I was soon doing it too.
10. What/who made you start writing?
When I was around eight I worked out it was actually a job, ie, you got to have the massive fun of making stuff up AND you got money for it. Could anything beat that as a job? Forty-one years in a row, the answer to that question has been no.
11. What is your favourite word and why?
‘Yes’, as long as it’s the start of my favourite sentence, ‘Yes, I’m going to fund your movie.’ I’m waiting for someone to say that at the moment.
12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Is there something you need to tell me, ie, do I have some terminal illness and this is how you’re breaking it? I only have time to read one book? One? Tell me it’s at least a big book. Hah. I’m going to beat this. I’m going to pick the book I like least, and that I haven’t been able to finish since 1975 and that way I’ll live FOREVER. Silas Marner, by George Eliot.
The Lost Hunters, the second book in Nick's Word Hunter adventure series co-authored with Terry Whidborne, is out now! You can find out more at the Word Hunters website or visit Nick Earls' website for details on his other books, speaking events and general news.
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