David Nicholls

  • List.co.uk
  • 14 August 2006

This article is from 2006.

Nobody does squirm quite like David Nicholls. Capturing those awkward moments in life when you need more than a red face to hide behind, he lands his characters in one embarrassing situation after another. All to hilarious effect, obviously. Nicholls’ debut novel, Starter for Ten made an unlikely working class hero out of a student with a University Challenge obsession. While his follow-up, The Understudy, was a painfully accurate portrait of a failed actor.

Both were filled with excruciating moments of social faux pas Basil Fawlty would be proud of. But they also tugged at the heartstrings, as did one of Nicholl’s other writing credits, series three of Cold Feet. ‘I think empathy and emotion are really important in good comedy,’ says Nicholls. ‘And my main priority is to be funny and sad at the same time.’

A film version of Starter for Ten, adapted by Nicholls and starring James McAvoy is due out in October. So, with novels, TV and film under his belt, Nicholls is in Edinburgh to pass on a few tips in ‘The Writing Business’. According to Nicholls, writing for the page and screen has its differences, but for anyone trying to follow in his footsteps here’s a key piece of advice. ‘With fiction writing there’s only one rule of thumb which is just do it,’ he says. ‘Don’t prevaricate, just keep writing, because that’s the only way to find your voice.’ (Kelly Apter)

19 Aug, 6.45pm, £5 (£3).

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