31 Oct 2022
A neuro-diverse teenager in a world of spies, counterspies, and terror is the subject of a new novel by 2023 Berlin Writer’s resident Brian Falkner.
Young adult and children’s writer Brian Falkner has been awarded the 2023 Creative New Zealand Berlin Writer’s Residency, allowing him to spend one year in Berlin working on a new novel.
After being in abeyance for two years due to Covid-related international travel restrictions, Creative New Zealand is thrilled to reinstate this award for 2023.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for any writer, and one I have been dreaming of for many years,” said Brian.
The Berlin Writer’s Residency will provide the perfect setting for Brian to research and write his new work. The book, which may become a series of books, is set in Berlin 1999, and the story’s protagonist is Nick, a socially awkward, neuro-diverse teenager.
“In Nick’s own words he is ‘Pluto’. He will tell you that all the planets in our solar system orbit in the same flat plane, except for Pluto, which is out of kilter,” said Brian.
“I really like the idea of taking a neuro-diverse teenage boy and plunging him into a world of spies, counterspies, terror and danger, which he is totally unprepared for. The character of Nick is based on my own experiences growing up as a neuro-divergent teenager in New Zealand. Nick is not James Bond, nor anything close to that. He is completely out of his depth and struggling as the world his grandfather once knew starts to close in around him.”
Readers familiar with Brian’s Katipo Joe WWII Spy series of novels will recognise the character of Joseph (Katipo) St George who is Nick’s grandfather in this new book.
“Katipo Joe has been one of my favourite characters to write, so I’m looking forward to representing him as an older man in a different decade, post-WWII and ten years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.”
To date, Brian Falkner has written 20 young adult novels and one work of non-fiction. Alongside writing, Brian also facilitates writing workshops for children and young adults.
An ongoing challenge for Brian and so many writers is to carve out focused and dedicated time to write. Brian comments that, “my usual year is broken into periods of intense, feverish writing, and periods of travelling and teaching both in Australia and Aotearoa. This is obviously an interruption to my writing focus, but necessary, to earn a living.”
“As much as I love running workshops, I am really looking forward to seeing what I can produce when my sole focus will be research and writing.”
Brian will take up his residency in November 2023.