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15 June 2008 ·

Voices on the Coast Festival

What a dramatic time this festival turned out to be! It was at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, but I think maybe I jinxed the weather by saying how much I was looking forward to some warmth for a few days. Monday started with torrential rain and howling wind – and spectacular surf;all the authors were lucky enough to all be staying right across from the beach, it was just amazing watching the waves crashing onto the beach. It was less appealing as my guide and I headed across the campus to the auditorium where I was speaking – we got fairly soaked going over, walking through water up past our ankles, but on the way back the sky opened up completely in a true tropical downpour. I have never been so wet.

Luckily for me, one of the volunteers became quite worried about me and drove me back to the hotel to change – but I felt terrible about my guide who stayed saturated all day. Worst of all, quite a few schools were flooded in and couldn’t get to the festival. That was truly sad.

The day continued to be dramatic with a gas leak in one building so that most of the lecture halls had to be evacuated – being a bit further away, mine didn’t, so I was able to finish my talk before going out to see fire trucks and an ambulance in the parking lot. Luckily for everyone, that was the end of the drama, and somehow, Kelly the amazing coordinator, kept smiling through it all.

Tuesday was the secondary school day, and weather and gas mains all behaved themselves; we then had a screening of Nim’s Island at the local cinema, with a talk before and Q & A afterwards, which was as fun as always.

By the third day, when I went out to a school and a library, we even had sunshine, and I had time for a wonderful walk on the beach, which always starts a day in the best way.

So a more eventful festival than usual, but as usual the real fun of meeting the audiences and hearing what they have to say, and also the constant buzz of meeting the other authors, rekindling friendships started at previous festivals, and making new friends. Cath Crowley and I shared an apartment, which was a lot of fun, and I’d strongly recommend her ‘Chasing Charlie Duskin’ to any teenage girl. I loved it.

So many good conversations, so little time…

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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