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10 July 2007 ·

Nim at Sea Launch

What can I say? This was a fun and eventful evening, but not quite what we’d planned. Paula Mazur was going to launch it and we were both quite excited about that. The Nim journey has been long, eventful and often emotional, and I dedicated the book to Paula because it was the journey that brought the characters to life for me all over again, so that I had to find out what happened next. When I realised that she would be in Australia when the book was released, we both thought this seemed a wonderful opportunity to not only launch the book but celebrate the journey so far.It was especially wonderful as we would have not only her family out from LA, but my daughter home from Vancouver, as well all my husband’s Queensland relatives. (My son was home in Melbourne, but at least he’ll get other chances to meet everyone.)

However journeys, and ‘at sea’ turned out to be even more relevant than we’d planned. I turned up at Riverbend Books shortly after 5:00 pm, as I was being interviewed before the 6:30 launch. My phone rang immediately; Paula, with Mark and Jen, had been out in a boat scouting locations and was now stuck on a sandbar. They’d called a rescue boat and should still make it fine, just a bit muddier than planned. Another phoned call: a while later… no sign of a rescue boat, but surely they’d get there, just a bit late. Next phone call a bit more despairing, but wait! A boat was approaching, with Rescue on it – all would be well.

Half an hour later came the next phone call: the rescue boat had also run aground, and the two boats were now pontooned together, waiting for another rescue boat. They finally got off about 8 pm.

Meanwhile, Murray Pope, a producer of Animalia, and long time friend of Paula’s and supporter of Nim’s, was coming to the launch as a guest – so he gallantly stepped in and launched it for Paula. Then, about halfway through my (slightly changed) speech, Paula’s family came jogging up the ramp to Riverbend’s deck; I introduced them, and her daughter took the mike and told the story of Paula finding the book in the library four years ago.

“You choreographed this, didn’t you?” someone in the audience said – and really, if I had, the only thing that would have made it perfect would have been for Paula, Mark and Jen to have all turned up as I finished the reading. Well, we’ll just have to have another celebration sometime.

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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