All About Nicky Singer
All About Nicky Singer
Nicky is a novelist whose ‘fearlessly dramatic work’ inevitably led her to write for the stage.
Winner of the Blue Peter Award for her first children’s book Feather Boy, her novels have been adapted for television (BAFTA winner for Best Children’s Drama); stage (including a musical with lyrics by Don Black and music by Debbie Wiseman) and opera (Knight Crew– premiered at Glyndebourne). Her first play for young people Island (about ice-bears and the nature of reality) was staged at the National Theatre in 2012. She later re-wrote Island as a novel with illustrations by former UK Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell. Her most recent novel The Survival Game (about what you’d be prepared to risk or sacrifice to stay alive if the borders were closing) has already been optioned for film.
‘Compelling’ and ‘moving’, are the two words most often used about her books and ‘inspirational’ about her presentations. She is in demand at festivals and schools all over the world.
How Nicky became an author.
‘When I was six, I won a bar of chocolate for a story I wrote about a giraffe. This is easy money, I thought, I’ll do this again. My school thought so too and entered me for essay writing competitions sponsored by… Cadbury’s chocolates. Every year I won a box of chocolates, actually it was a tin in those days. I ate the chocolates, kept the tin and planned a life in writing. Two other things happened, I acquired a raft of younger sisters and, when I was fourteen, lost my father. That sounds like I mislaid him. I didn’t. He died very suddenly, very unexpectedly and he didn’t say goodbye. I often think all of us are born storytellers but those who become writers have a trigger and it’s often a cataclysmic childhood experience. For me it was that death. I could talk more about that, but I won’t here. I would if I met you because I like talking about difficult things – that’s also what makes me a writer, I think. As for the sisters, I started telling them stories… That’s another thing we could discuss – why we are Homo Fabula, story-telling beings.’
Nicky’s School Visits
Nicky is comfortable giving small creative workshops for 15 or talking to 250 people. She will always tailor her presentation to the needs of the group that invites her and she is happy to talk about her novels, the creative process in general (particularly the importance of story), plus her adaptations for screen, theatre and opera. She particularly enjoys giving creative writing workshops (working from students’ own life experiences) and can also ‘storyboard’ with drama students who are doing devised exam pieces.
TALKS Most talks (examples below) are 50-60 mins long and include time for Q&A.
Feather Boy (Years 4-7) A story of bullying, empowerment and a spooky house. Talk includes the inspiration behind the story (Nicky really did go in that derelict house….), plus clips from the BAFTA award winning BBC film of the book, which highlights how things change from page to stage/film.
Island (Years 7-9) which was originally a play for the National Theatre is now a novel with illustrations by former UK Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell. Island is about a boy, a girl, an ice-bear and keeping the Arctic frozen. Talk include the genesis of the story (the true tale of erupting graves on the Canadian island of Herschel…) plus resultant discussion of climate change and man’s responsibility in nature. Includes stills from the National Theatre production and sound track of marine creatures under threat.
The Survival Game (Years 8 and above) A road movie about migration. 14-year-old Mhairi needs to get from the Sudan to the Isle of Arran in Scotland when the borders are closing. A story that asks – what would you be prepared to risk – or sacrifice – to get to safety? Includes discussion of our moral responsibility to refugees and examines how we often ‘other’ foreigners.
Knight Crew (9 and above) is a re-telling of the King Arthur legend set in contemporary gangland. A hard-hitting knife-crime story, it asks the question – can someone who has murdered ever be good again? Knight Crew was made into an opera premiered at Glyndebourne. Talk includes clips from the BBC film of the show. Most teenagers find this considerably more interesting than they thought they would!
Creative writing (max 25 students) creating fiction from real-life experiences. Nicky shows students how to build characters, ‘story-board’ an idea and then write, edit and evaluate their own work.
Drama – writing for the stage (in conjunction with drama staff)
- (Years 4-7) How a book becomes a musical – plus on your feet improvisation around the haunted house scene in Feather Boy.
- GCSE/A-level Are you doing a devised piece? How to research and storyboard an idea.
- The importance of story. Why do Humans tell them? From Cinderella via neuroscience to spin doctors.
- How can you be the change you want to see in the world?
As well as being a writer Nicky has worked in publishing, the arts and television. Jobs have included: Associate Director of Talks at ICA; Co-founder and Co-Director of Performing Arts Labs (a charity dedicated to training writers for stage, screen and opera); researcher for Channel 4’s VOICES programme and on-screen presenter for BBC2’s documentary series LABOURS OF EVE. A talk about how to make a life in writing and the arts.
AND ALSO: Book signings, interview for school magazine, meet the librarians/book club, prize-giving etc.
Nicky’s novel The Flask (recently nominated for the Carnegie Medal)
Twelve-year-old Jess is grieving for her beloved Aunt Edie and anxiously awaiting the birth of her twin brothers, when she finds a mysterious glass flask hidden in a desk. The flask is beautiful to Jess and soon she starts to believe that it contains a magical life-force. When her half-brothers are born critically ill, Jess becomes convinced that their survival depends on what’s happening to the flask…
Through Jess’s stunning narration, Nicky Singer explores the meaning of life and the interconnected nature of all things – in a way which is entirely accessible to young readers.
Catherine would say it all began in a time that is yesterday and tomorrow and eternally present. But then Catherine’s a storyteller. I’m not a storyteller. I’m just the guy it happened to.
Robert is the class victim, the guy who’s never picked for the team. So no one is more surprised than Robert himself when a strange old lady sends him on a quest to solve the mystery of Chance House. Legend has it that a boy fell to his death from an upper window. But what has this past to do with Robert’s future?
To get to the truth, Robert must learn what it really means to fly.
After a gang feud claims its first life, violence escalates. But then the prophetic words of a strange old bag lady start to hit home and the girl he loves have one chance to make good, one chance to bring honour and peace to a murderous world.
Fierce tender and unflinching, Knight Crew breathes the passions of ancient legend into a contemporary wasteland – passions that can create or destroy.
Grumpy Western teenage, Cameron, arrives on an uninhabited arctic island with his research scientist mother, Pascale. Beneath the soil the permafrost is melting and the graves throwing up their dead. There are bear prints in the sand and Cameron, lacking for his computer and iPod, begins to hear – and see – things that science says cannot be there. One of them is an Inuit girl. The other is a polar bear.
‘No one’s an island, Cameron. You, your parents, London, Qikiqtaruk, the whales, the guillemots, the living, the dead. We’re all connected. If one moves we all move’.
Island played at the National Theatre (Cottesloe 2012) and also in 40 London schools.
The Survival Game
Mhairi Anne Bain owns only two things: a gun with no bullets and her identity papers.
The world is a shell of what it once was. Now, you must prove yourself worthy of existence at every turn, at every border checkpoint. And if you are going to survive, your instincts will become your most valuable weapon.
Mhairi has learnt the importance of living her own story, of speaking to no one. But then she meets a young boy with no voice at all, and finds herself risking everything to take him to safety.
And so Mhairi and the silent boy travel the road north. But there are rumours that things in Scotland have changed since she has been away. What Mhairi finds there is shocking and heart-breaking, but might finally re-connect her to her sense of self and to the possibility of love.
An extraordinary story about survival and what it costs, about the power of small kindnesses to change everything.
Reviews and Recommendations
‘Feather Boy is simply fabulous… an emotionally intense suspense novel of the highest order.’ Michael Thorn, Achuka
‘A story for this generation…written with love, passion and intelligence.‘ Benjamin Zephaniah on Knight Crew
‘Compelling, moving drama’ The Independent on Island the play
‘Just finished reading your beautiful text and am now rather in love with Island.’ Chris Riddell.
‘A powerful story. It’s searingly beautiful but both terrifying and deeply sad. Nicky Singer writes with lyricism…But The Survival Game isn’t just beautifully written…it’s raw and energetic, lyrical and beautiful, intense and passionate. It also asks important questions and requires the reader to interrogate her or himself…It’s an absolute tour de force.’ The Book Bag
“I just wanted to drop you a personal note to thank you so much for your fantastic contribution to Book Week. Everyone who worked with you commented on the way that you engaged the children – and the fact that you could work with the drama students was an absolute gift! You did not seem to stop when you were here and gave over and above anything we asked. All in all, not only did we think Book Week was a real success overall, but we feel that very strongly about your particular contribution, too, and I hope we will be able to stay in touch in the future.” Sue Woodroofe, Principal, The British School of Brussels.
“We had a lovely two days with Nicky Singer, where she conducted workshops on writing and drama with our English and Drama classes in both Middle and High School! She also spent time with our exam drama students. Nicky is very versatile, and hard working. Students engaged well in her writing workshops, and during the big assembly for Middle School she mixed up the story of the novel Island very well with the environmental and cultural message of nature and people under threat. The book sale was very successful and she was very willing to talk to the students and sign all their books. Nicky was pleasant to work with, and no demand was too much for her. We would be happy to have her back some time for more workshops.” Marion, Upper School Librarian, International School of Luxembourg.
To Make a Booking
To make an enquiry about Nicky Singer, or any of the other authors, poets & illustrators listed on this website, please phone Trevor Wilson on +44 (0) 1535 656015, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org