Novelist, dramatist, librettist.
Nicky Singer’s first children’s novel Feather Boy won the Blue Peter ‘Book of the Year’ Award, was adapted for TV (winning a BAFTA for Best Children’s Drama) and then commissioned by the National Theatre’s Shell Connections series as a musical with lyrics by Don Black and music by Debbie Wiseman. In 2010 Nicky was asked by Glyndebourne to adapt her novel Knight Crew (a re-telling of the King Arthur legend set in contemporary gangland) for an opera with music by Julian Philips. 2012 saw both the publication of The Flask (‘a nourishing and uplifting story, with big themes and a big heart,’ The Guardian) and the premiere of her play Island (about ice-bears and the nature of reality) at the National Theatre. She has recently published Island as a novel with illustrations by UK Children’s Laureate, Chris Riddell.
Nicky is comfortable giving small creative writing 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.
Talk times: Most talks are 50-60 mins long and include time for Q&A. Nicky has two creative writing workshop options, one (including a ‘tool kit) running at an hour and a half and one running at just an hour.
“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.
Example Book Talks:
1. Feather Boy. (Suitable Yrs 5-7)
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.
2. Island (Yrs 7-9)
Island – (which was originally a play for the National Theatre) is now a novel with illustrations by 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.
3. Knight Crew (Yrs 9 and above)
Knight Crew 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 Workshops (all ages)
1. Tool Kit Plus Creative Writing (1 and a half hours – can be scheduled over a break)
The ideal workshop number (where I can actually give individual attention to every student) is 20 or fewer. It remains pretty successful (less attention but good results) up to about 25 max.
It works like this:
1. I spend approx. 40-50mins doing a writing ’tool-kit'. ie explaining what you need to think about before you start writing - from first sentences, to language and points-of-view.
2. We storyboard using material from the students’ own lives, exploring how to ‘fictionalise’ real events. and push at the boundaries of a story.
3. The students have 10 mins actual writing time.
4. We then share some of the writing the writings - it's in this 'de-brief' that most of the light bulbs go off.
2. Creative Writing only (1 hour)
Making fiction from your own life. We storyboard (as in sections 2-4 above) and I try to pull out the ‘tool kit’ stuff as we go. Suitable for larger groups and where time is limited to an hour.
Drama sessions include:
1. Feather Boy the Musical - Workshop
An on-your-feet workshop based around the ‘haunted house’ scene in the musical where students get to ‘play’ with the material and create their own mini-scene. Nicky introduces the characters/music etc but the workshop does require the active participation of drama staff at the directorial end (which is beyond Nicky’s competence!).
Fees and Expenses:
Nicky works to the Society of Authors day rate minimum plus second-class rail fare or car travel and (if appropriate) accommodation costs. Nicky lives in Brighton.
Further information about Nicky’s books and dramas can be found on her website www.nickysinger.com
I have written four novels for adults, two books of non-fiction and seven books for young people, including: