About Me: Short Bio
(scroll down for Long Bio)
Wendy Orr grew up in France, Canada and USA. She was a compulsive reader and writer from an early age, and now writes for children, young adults and adults. Her books have been published in 25 countries and languages and have won awards including the CBC (Australian) Book of the Year, American Library Association Book for older readers, and the Israeli March of Books. Wendy also worked on the screenplay that turned her book Nim’s Island into a 2008 Hollywood feature film starring Jodie Foster, Abigail Breslin and Gerard Butler. The sequel, Nim at Sea, is now in production, with Bindi Irwin starring as Nim.
Her latest books are:
In Australia: Rainbow Street Pets, Allen & Unwin
In Canada: Facing the Mountain, Scholastic Canada
In USA: ABANDONED! A Lion Called Kiki illustrated by Patricia Castelao; the 4th book in the Rainbow Street Shelter series, Henry Holt
Photo by Roger Gould
Audio on Teaching Net Name Pronounciation
About Me: Long Bio
I was born in Edmonton, Canada, but with a father in the Air Force, grew up in various places in France, Canada and Colorado. (To be precise: Longuyon, Magny-Metz, Ottawa, Red Deer, Colorado Springs, Toronto and Middleton, Nova Scotia.)
From the time that I learned to read and write in English, when I was six, I wanted to be a writer, and I was always writing stories, plays and poetry. And when I wasn't writing I was reading! When I was 9 I wrote a story called "Spring Island" about a little girl running away from an orphanage to live on an island. Inmany ways, this was the first draft of Nim's Island.
I thought of studying journalism but couldn't imagine being a reporter, and instead started Animal Care in Kingston, Ontario. Realising that wasn't for me either, I went to England for the summer and stayed in London to study Occupational Therapy. On a short holiday in Wales I met an Australian at a Youth Hostel - six months later Tom and I were married, and as soon as I'd graduated, I migrated to Australia.
We moved to Albury, New South Wales, where I worked as an occupational therapist. Our son James was born in 1979; a year later we bought our first farm, in northeast Victoria. Our daughter Susan was born there the following year.
I started writing seriously in 1986. At the end of that year I wrote the picture book Amanda's Dinosaur, which won an Ashton Scholastic competition for an unpublished picture book text. I've been writing ever since. Some of my books are written purely from imagination and some have begun from things that have happened in my own life, such as Peeling the Onion, Yasou Nikki, some parts of Ark in the Park and the background for Leaving it to You. Tiny incidents in my life have also sparked ideas for my adult novel, The House at Evelyn's Pond and my most recent junior novel, Ravens' Mountain (Australia)/Facing the Mountain (Canada).
After the thrill of initial publication, the publishing milestones for me have been:
Leaving it to You being shortlisted for the Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year, junior readers, in 1993 (ironically, the same day that my long term injuries forced me to resign from my position as an occupational therapist);
Ark in the Park winning Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year, junior readers, in 1995.
Peeling the Onion receiving a wonderful reception in Australia and internationally, from both critics and readers, with awards including the Honour Book for the Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year, older readers, in 1997, and an American Library Association Book for older readers.
Nim's Island being picked up, optioned and made into a film starring Jodie Foster, Abigail Breslin and Gerard Butler. Working on the script and being involved in the five year process was one of the most intellectually stimulating times of my life.
But I'm very excited now that Raven's Mountain has just been released in Canada, as Facing the Mountain. This was especially important to me because it was set in British Columbia, where we spent summers when I was Raven's age.
It's probably also easy to tell that I love animals, and so I've had a lot of fun writing the Rainbow Street series: LOST! A Dog Called Bear, MISSING! A Cat Called Buster and WANTED! A Guinea Pig Called Henry.(ABANDONED! A Lion Called Kiki, STOLEN! A Pony Called Pebbles and DISCOVERED! A Beagle Called Bella will come out later this year and the start of 2013)
These have now all been released in Australia as one book: Rainbow Streeet Pets.
INTERVIEWS WITH WENDY ORR
Screen Futures Video Interview on Nim's Island book to film
National Young Writers' Month 2011 video interview: Why I write (1/3)
National Young Writers' Month 2011 video interview: Why I write (2/3)
National Young Writers' Month 2011 video interview: Why I write (3/3)