Tim McGarry optioned the rights to adapt Trent Dalton’s gritty, semi-autobiographical novel before it was even published. Then he talked to Sam Strong about staging it. But how to bring the book – which quickly became a beloved best-seller – to theatrical life given its epic nature and magical realism? Jane Albertfinds out.

For a Walkley Award-winning journalist and author who is broadly viewed as a national treasure such is the beauty and poignancy of his language, Trent Dalton’s response on agreeing to a stage adaptation of his book Boy Swallows Universewas surprisingly lacking in eloquence.

Boy Swallows Universe
Joe Klocek as Eli Bell. Photo © Brett Boardman