Saturday, September 13, 2014

Nick Earls

Today I shall be learning about the Queensland writer Nick Earls.

I own three of us his books. I barely remember anything about them.

What I do remember is I really liked one of his books; then I ordered more, and liked the other two somewhat less.

I'm fairly sure Perfect Skin was the book I liked.  Now I'm looking at it on Amazon and I see it's the third book in a trilogy!  Did I know that?  I don't think so. It's called the Brisbane Rewound Trilogy. I'm wondering if maybe it's not a trilogy with the same characters, but more like three books that are connected by style and setting. Well...hopefully I'll find out more later.

Does Lord Wiki have anything to say about Nick Earls?

Yes! He does. Good.

He says Earls was born in Northern Ireland on October 8, 1963.  He came to Australia in 1972, when he was nine.

Earls attended Anglican Church Grammar School in Brisbane. On their website, they call themselves Churchie. That's kind of cute.  Lord Wiki says that Norman Lindsay's son did his education there as well.

Before becoming a writer, Earls was a doctor (General Practitioner). He got his medical degree from the University of Queensland.

Lord Wiki has a list of Earl's books. I'm trying to decide if I want to explore his career via that list, or go elsewhere.

I might go elsewhere.

But first....

Lord Wiki says one of Earl's books has been turned into a film.  48 Shades of Brown was made into 48 Shades. That title sounds familar to me. I wonder if I own it too, and just didn't see it on the bookshelf yesterday. Or I may have gotten it at the library.

Here's the trailer for the movie. It doesn't really appeal to me. I think I'd like that type of storyline, but something doesn't feel right. The acting? Writing (screenwriting?) Maybe the directing?

Lord Wiki has pointed me in the direction of Nick Earl's own website, which is a blog. There's probably a lot of fun stuff here.

Here's the about page.  It says Earls has written twelve novels and then some shorter stuff. He's also written a children's thing called The Word Hunters Trilogy.

Word Hunters has a website of it's own.  It looks like an education thing disguised as fiction.  What I mean is this: Often authors will have a story idea. Then when writing their story, they'll do research to help the story be more authentic. And when someone reads their book, they might end up learning something.  Other authors will want to teach kids something. They'll have a lesson in mind. Then they'll create a story to fit the educational lesson.

Most of the about page of Earl's website is bragging/self promotion stuff. I'll pass on the brags that are interesting to me.

Earl has been compared to Woody Allen and J.D Salinger...and other writers.

Perfect Skin was made into a movie in Italy!  That's pretty cool.  Here's a trailer for Solo Un Padre.

I was thinking I'm a bit unfair because I'm delighted that Italy has made a movie based on an Australian book. But if it was Americans doing that, I'd be annoyed.

So why? Am I prejudice? Anti-American?

But then I realized it's not that.  I think it's fine for Italians to do it, because it's a different language. Subtitles are great, but not everyone is keen on watching movies with them. So if you're going to adapt a book of a different language, I think it makes sense to change it to your language and maybe even use characters from your country. But I feel it makes less sense to turn a British story into an Australian one, or an Australian story into an American one, etc.

Let's use Harry Potter as an example. If Sweden made their own Harry Potter films, I'd think that was fantastic. If Canada made their own Harry Potter movies, I would find it a bit offensive. Or at least stupid. Well, it would be fine if a Canadian director wanted to make a Harry Potter series, but only if he kept the characters and storyline British. If he tried to change them all into Canadians, I'd think that was a bit awful.

I should move on....

What else exciting has Nick Earls done or won?

He's written for newspapers.

He's been on bestseller lists.

In 2012, The Age listed Earls as one of their top ten most awesome living Australians. Wow! That IS impressive. I really had no idea this guy was so famous.

At the end of the bragging, Earls sense of humor kicks in and he says, Cashed-up multi-millionaire or Hollywood studio (or struggling film-maker) with a burning desire to turn a Nick Earls story into a film? 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 Pippa Masson at Curtis Brown in Sydney. 

That's very sweet. I like how he mentions the struggling filmmaker. And what's also sweet is he actually responds to comments on the page. Or at least some of them. And his replies are quite gracious and friendly.

According to the Nick Earls event page, he was featured at the recent Brisbane Writer's Festival.  He's part of something called Analogue Men.  They did a festival event. He describes it as: Grumpy middle-aged men Nick Earls, Michael Robotham, David Hunt and Tim Ferguson declare a hashtag-free zone in a hilarious hour of moan-bonding about pop culture, generations and the endless march of Internet memes. 

It sounds entertaining.

I just Googled Analogue Men. It's a book. And now I'm thinking I may have seen it mentioned on the about page.  Yeah...rechecking...It's Earl's most recent novel. From what I see in the description, it sounds a bit like a mid-life crisis type thing.

Here's something pretty awesome. Earls has a freebie page with links to where you can get free e-copies of some of his stuff.  I'm looking at Amazon, because that's where I get my e-books.

Right now, there's a novella called Welcome to Normal. I'm going to download it for my phone.

Well, that's the only free thing. But there's a lot of short stories for 99 cents.

On Amazon, they have the other books in the Brisbane Rewound Trilogy. The first is called Bachelor Kisses.  And it IS about the same character in Perfect Skin.  My idea about the books being connected by setting only was totally wrong.

But now I'm looking at book 2 (ZigZag Street) and this one doesn't seem connected to the other.

Bachelor Kisses and Perfect Skin are about a guy named Jon Marshall.  ZigZag Street is about a guy named Richard. Unless there's a mistake on Amazon.

No. It's not a mistake. Random House Australia agrees that it's about Richard.

Maybe the first book is about Jon, the second is about Richard, and the third is about both of them...but mostly Jon, because he's the one mentioned on the back cover description.

I wish I remembered Perfect Skin more.

I'm looking at the news page of the Nick Earls site now. It's pretty much more bragging/self promotion stuff.

The most recent news is that The Age said Analogue Men should be a movie starring Mick Molloy.

I don't see it in The Age, but I do see it in the Sydney Morning Herald.  Lord Wiki says they're both owned by Fairfax Media. So maybe they had the same article/review.

I'm wondering about all this bragging on Nick Earl's site.  Is it necessary? Helpful?

The bragging on his site is not the type where you say I'm so wonderful because blah, blah, blah. It's more along the lines of passing on the compliments you've gotten from others; making sure everyone knows of all kudos received.

I think it's kind of like the equivalent of Retweeting praise on Twitter. Is it tacky for me to go on Twitter and Tweet, I have an awesome blog about Australia?  Is it any less tacky to Tweet about or Retweet praise I've received about my blog.  I do think think bragging in small doses is fine, and occasionally using compliments, and awards you've received, for self-promotion is fine too.

Here's a Retweet of praise that I actually loved. First of all, it was from a celebrity. And it's not that celebrity opinions are more important than other people's opinions. But Matt Pringle drew a picture of Mia Farrow, and she gave him a compliment on it. That's pretty exciting. Second (and more important than the first) the guy acknowledged in the Tweet that he knew it was bad to retweet praise. So that made it all okay in my book.

Now if Matt Pringle drew a lot of celebrities and he often got praise, and he kept Retweeting that praise, it would get old fast.

So...personally I don't think Nick Earls needs all these accolades listed on his website. I think it's better if it was found elsewhere. Let other people display all this stuff. Like Lord Wiki! Or bloggers... There are a lot of bloggers out there who like wax poetic about their favorite authors.  And there are book review sites with people saying nice things about Nick Earls.

Maybe Earls is afraid people won't go to those sites, so he feels he must repeat the stuff on his own site.

Earl's site also has a page with links to reviews and interviews. For some reason, I feel this is better than simply quoting and listing pieces of praise you've received. I don't know why. Maybe because it looks like links rather than brags. I have no idea. I'm not making sense.

MAYBE it's because I can't tell from looking at the links that it IS praise. Some of the links could lead to negative reviews or antagonistic interviews.

I have some understanding maybe of Earls. Maybe he feels his website is his place in the world where it's safe to do his bragging. It's like I know it's rude to brag about how smart your child is. And I try to keep that to a minimum when talking to people in real life. But on my LiveJournal website, I bragged a lot. And I think I even said there, hey, this is my place to brag so live with it (or something like that).

Maybe Earl's website is his place to show off, and he only does it there. So then when he's with family and friends he's not often blurting out things like, Did you know many of my stories have been turned into plays?  Or I just learned the Qantas in-flight magazine has said wonderful things about my book.

I feel I'm being very harsh and maybe unfair towards Earl. I'm going to check out other writers. Maybe they do the same thing. Although that doesn't necessarily make it right. But I worship JK Rowling and if she does the same thing, and I worship her, it's totally unfair to pick on Nick Earls for doing it.

Well, I'm looking at her news page now. It seems much less braggy to me. It's pretty much just links.

Her book pages does provide brief statements about the book's success.  But she doesn't go on and on about it. For example, here's what's said about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: The seventh and final book in the series, was published in the UK, USA and other English speaking countries on 21st July 2007. The book is the fastest selling book in the UK and USA, with 8.3 million selling in the first 24 hours and 11.5 million in the first ten days.

If Rowling wanted to, she could put pages and pages of praise about that book on her site. But she's nicely minimalist about it. know...she's too busy trying to save Scotland.

Now I'm thinking about myself. I've bragged a few times on my blog...or talked about praise I've received from others. Is the only reason I do it less than Nick Earls the fact that there's not much there? If I received more praise, would I be bragging much more?  I hope not.

Maybe we should all do the same amount of bragging/self-promotion. And it should be a small amount. If you don't accomplish much in your life; if you get very little kudos, then you can share all of it. If you get a medium amount, you share a small portion of it. If you're like JK Rowling and you get a HUGE amount of kudos, you only brag about a teeny tiny portion of it.

This post is getting way long. And it's getting late here. But I'm not ending now, because there's much more I want to look at.

But I'm going to take a break; pee at least.

I'm back. I'm trying to decide where to go next. Should I read some of the interviews and reviews? Look at his Twitter Page? Read his blog posts?

I want to do all of it. But I have to start somewhere.

I'll start with reviews.  I'll do some that Earls has linked to himself, and then also look at what people have said about the same works on Goodreads.

So, here's a very positive review of Word Hunters. It's from a blog that has women reviewing children's books. They say, An action-packed adventure story filled with humour, excitement and mysteries to solve, Word Hunters: The Curious Dictionary is sure to capture the imagination of children with an interest in history and language. Described as a ‘word nerd adventure’, the story winds through history showing how words evolve over time, such as tracking ‘hello’ back through time to ‘Ah, Rou’ in Rouen, France in 925.

It definitely sounds educational. I'm wondering if it's the type of books most kids would want to read as much as they want to read other fiction stuff—like the Wimpy Kid series. Or is it the type of book most kids wouldn't choose to read, but they'd prefer to read it over their textbooks.

Here are the reviews on Goodreads. Kate Forsyth has high praises for the book. She says, I really loved this book. It’s fresh, funny, a little quirky, and is bound together by a true passion for words and their importance.

Sarah Waters gave the book only 2 stars. She's not overly negative though. She says, An interesting idea for a book and I really liked how the characters landed in the middle of different historical events. It would be a great book to read to a class if you were studying history or the origins of the English language.  I think her review fits my idea that the book is more of a in-lieu-of-textbooks thing rather than a read-for-pure-enjoyment thing.  And that's not saying there's not kids out there who won't read it for pure enjoyment. But some kids are like that. When I was a teen, I read parenting books and medical books for fun.

Beth Adele gave 3 stars, but was more negative in her review. She says, Not a bad start to a trilogy, but not a great start either. It does feel as though the book is trying a little too hard to be clever, but I suspect now that the world of the word hunters has been established that future instalments will be tighter and a little less pretentious. The illustrations are quirky and cute.

This could go on forever if I let it. So I'll just do one more book.

Actually, now I'm seeing that he has links to reviews for only one other book.

Maybe I'll just move onto interviews. Here's one about Analogue Men. It's a video.

Earls talks about how he used to write about men in their twenties and thirties; then he decided it was time to move onto older men.

The book appeals to me. It's about middle age people and technology. Some people fear it and are awful with it; and some people are very adept.

There's as lot of talk here about radio. If you're interested in that, you'll probably love this interview.  I found it interesting in the very beginning. The interviewer talked about how radio was becoming obsolete, but now it's going through a renaissance. I think that's great, and kind of inspiring.

But then the radio thing started to lose my interest. It seems, though, that it's a big part of the novel.  I don't think it would bore me in the novel.

I'd be bored with an interview discussion about British royalty, but I'm reading a novel about it now and enjoying it.

I'm actually going to quit the interview. It's long (17 minutes) and I think it's the type of thing that would be more interesting if I had read the book. Maybe if I read the book someday, I'll go back to it.

Now I'm going to look at some of Nick Earl's blog posts.

He's written one recently—September 4.  It's about cats on the internet.

Oh! It's about that whole disgusting thing where people were bothered that there black cats weren't showing up well on selfies.

Earls says, Displaced onto a mountaintop in northern Iraq with no food or water and extremists closing in to massacre you? Sure, that’d suck. But when I take a photo of my cat all you can see are its eyes, dammit. Can’t you feel my pain? 

I think we should be able to whine about things without being hit on the head with reminders that there are people in much worse situations. To a point, of course. If someone constantly whines about trivial things, they definitely need a reminder.

But if someone makes one little comment about their cat not looking good in harm done. If they give away their cat, that's a WHOLE other story. That's where it becomes disgusting. Unfortunately, it's happening.

There are some moral questions here, though. I think it's definitely awful to return the cat you adopted and loved, or were planning to love, because you discovered he doesn't look good in Selfies. But what if you already have heard that black cats look bad in selfies. If you go to the shelter and say no to adopting a black cat, is that bad too?

Maybe it would depend on the situation. If you're looking at a bunch of cats and they're all acting the same, why not pick one based on a superficial reason? But if you're interacting with the cats, and the one you connect with black, it would be awful to think Well, I really adore you, but I'm going to go with this other cat because he'll look better in photographs.

Now I'm reading Earl's post about travel confessions. I'm hoping for something dirty and juicy, but so far it's extremely innocent. It's the stuff I do without an ounce of guilt. And I have VERY strong guilt reflexes.

He talks about shampoo. I don't really get it. I think he's confessing that he uses the shampoo provided by the hotels. We do that all the time! Not only do we use it, but when they bring us extra, we take all of it home. We have drawers full of the stuff. Is that awful? Are we not supposed to do that? Am I revealing too much of my family's greediness and gluttony?

Earls also takes home the free hot chocolate provided in the hotel room. I rarely see hot chocolate at our hotels, but if I did, it would definitely be going into our suitcase.

 The third thing is he does room laundry. I do that! This is where you're too cheap to pay for the hotel to clean your clothes. So you wash it in the sink and then work hard to get as much water out of them as possible. Earls says: This system is close to perfect, but there’s one warning I have to give. The stamping, wringing and towel-twisting all involve exertion. If you’ve just been for a run and get dressed before the wringing and towel-twisting, there’s a real risk you’ll drench your fresh clothes with a new load of sweat. In the interests of not sweating out your clothes and not overheating and sweating when you least want to, room laundry is best performed nude.

That's hilarious. I was totally laughing out loud when I read that.

I never tried his towel thing. Earls says you put your clothes flat on a towel, roll it all up, and then do squeezing things. But I wouldn't want to waste a towel. I guess we could ask for extras?

I'm wondering. Do they give the same amount of towels to every room, or does it depend on the number of guests staying there? We usually get three towels. If I went alone to a hotel, would I still get three? Or just one?

Now I'm going to look at Nick Earls on Twitter. Then I'm probably going to quit.  I need to do some laundry and take a shower. And since I'm not at a hotel, I can use a washing machine.

I did handwash my bras today, but I didn't need to do anything wild to dry them. They do fine with just hanging them up in the shower.

Earl's recent Tweet was about the recent tragedy in the Kidman family. He Tweets, Note to tv networks: the Kidmans' request for privacy was not written to be run over footage of grieving family arriving at the family home. 

I don't really understand the wording of that; but I think I understand the general meaning. I think the basic idea is that grief deserves privacy, even for celebrities.

I guess sometimes it's okay for it to be public.

 I did watch Bindi Irwin's speech about her father. I watched some of the Irwin funeral. I have watched the memorial service for Jim Henson multiple times.

I think there's public grief and private grief. To watch a televised funeral is morbid, but also sometimes beautiful in a cathartic way. To intrude on private grief without permission is a whole other story.

Onto other Tweets....

 Here's a funny conversation. It's between Earls, John Birmingham, and some other people I don't know. Someone named Katherine Feeney asks how do you politely correct someone if they call you the wrong name. Earls says, it's barely two weeks since someone told me they were a massive fan and falafel was their favourite. Meaning people confuse him with John Birmingham (another Aussie author)

I'm looking at his Twitter...just in general. I think it's fairly decent. There's some Retweeting of Tweets in which he's mentioned, but it's not really braggy stuff. It's more like events/appearances.

He's conversational, which I think is a very good thing. Most of his Tweets are responses to other people. He's not one of those Twitter people who just shout out things about themselves.

I'm thinking Nick Earls is only a bragger on his website. And who knows. Maybe someone else did those pages for him. Or someone pressured him to brag a lot. They might have insisted it needs to be done if he wants to be successful.

On Twitter, Earls seems like a very nice guy. Oh...and he sounds nice on his website too. Just a bit up himself. But some people are up themselves, and they're still quite decent otherwise.