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4 December 2007 ·

Serendipidity and Writing

I’m in the middle of reading the page proofs for the UK Puffin edition of Nim’s Island. When I came to the description of Nim lighting a fire:

“She unscrewed the lens from her spyglass. She pointed it so that the sun shone a bright beam on her kindling. A brown patch grew and glowed – and a small flame sparkled on the dry palm fronds…”

I suddenly remembered that I’d written that after visiting a friend who’d just had a fire in her living room. Her reading glasses had been lying on the newspaper on the coffee table – in just the right way that the sun hit them and heated up the newspaper till it burst into flames.

Would I have thought of Nim making fire this way if my friend hadn’t told me of her scare? Maybe; maybe not. That’s why I love writing – because I never know what I’m going to discover till it happens.

Right now (at least once I’ve finished reading these proofs) I need to discover whether the pony tail I saw the other day will find a place in the current work in progress. I think it belongs there – but I won’t know for sure till I write it.

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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