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16 May 2005 ·


Peeling the Onion readers might be interested to know that I’ve just returned from a week of intensive, innovative, physiotherapy in Sydney… so we can hope that Anna has something similar after the end of the book, and has the same boost of improvement: less pain, less motion sickness and more freedom of movement. It’s never too late to hope!

In between therapy sessions I visited my friend and illustrator Kerry Millard, and can’t believe how much work we got done. In a more formal session I guess you’d call it workshopping: I got to hear and comment on her wonderful new picture book in progress, seeing how she lays out her rough sketches and cuts and pastes the strips of text to see where she wants them. The art work is already finished for a few of the spreads, and it’s delicious. I always find it such a thrill to see what an illustrator has done with my work – but I couldn’t help being envious of her talent, which gives her the freedom to plan everything right down to the endpapers. Luckily the envy was outweighed by the fun of her comments on possible illustrations and styles for my projects – and the gratitude that she’s already illustrated three of mine (Ark in the Park, Nim’s Island and Spook’s Shack.) She’ll also be doing the illos for my Aussie Nibble, Too Much Stuff, which will be out in 2007.

We also went over a picture book text I’m working on with the working title of One Night, and searched for a title for a junior novel to come out with the Australian National Museum in 2006. This is the story of Trung, a Vietnamese boy arriving in Australia on a fishing boat in 1978. Trung and his own story are fictitious, but the boat he could have arrived on are in the Museum – I was taken to see it last year when they asked if I could the story. So now the story is done, and many many pages and hours have been spent trying to think of a title, but I’m still not happy with any of them. Still, I now have another short list of titles to send to my editor, and maybe they’ll spark something brilliant from her!

Finally, I read Kerry the first 65 pages of my new adult novel, whose working title is The Mosaic Mermaid. I’m always terrified the first time I read a manuscript to someone, and I’m sure I never read so badly as when I do it. However the combination of finding flaws and encouragement to go on, made it more than worthwhile.

Now I need to go and put all these corrections into my computer, and send One Night off to its new home!

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Wendy Orr is a Canadian-born Australian writer. Her books for children and adults have been published in 27 countries and won awards around the world. Nim’s Island and Nim at Sea have also become feature films, starring Jodie Foster and Abigail Breslin (Nim’s Island) and Bindi Irwin (Return to Nim’s Island.) Her latest book is Cuckoo’s Flight, a companion to the highly acclaimed Bronze Age novels Dragonfly Song and Swallow’s Dance. Read full bio