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21 September 2008 ·

Writers and characters

One of the questions I’m often asked is, “Are you more like Alex Rover or Nim?” Of course, like most writers, there’s some of me in all my characters. Most people are a mass of contradictions; of thinking different things at different times, and of wondering how different life might have been if we’d followed some other path. When I’m writing, a character grows out of one of those paths – and often takes it to extremes!

So, like Nim, I love animals, and think of my pets as friends with their own personalities. (“You talk to them as if they were people!” people often say. Well… yes. I don’t expect them to respond like people, but the more you talk to a dog, the more they understand.) And though I’m not as physically skilled and courageous as Nim, I’m fairly determined when I want to do something, so it’s easy to imagine being like Nim.

But like Alex, I spend a lot of time living in my imagination. I do most of my research through books, emails and internet – though for Nim at Sea, I actually went to New York, and walked the route I planned her to take (though I took the Staten Island ferry rather than swim in from the harbor!) I was talking to someone the other day and mentioned that I hadn’t been to our nearest town this year. She was horrified! “What do you do all day?” she asked. “Work,” I answered.(“And walk the dog…”)

Of course, I have actually traveled quite a lot this year, which is maybe why I really don’t feel like leaving home much when I’m here. So it’s easy to pull that out to enter the mind of Alex, a writer who’s become so reclusive that she’s now afraid to leave her home at all…


  1. Paula Hardin greetings, I would like to know what kind of dragon was your Fred? I fell in love with him, and would love to purchase one for myself besides using one in my novel. Paula Hardin
    November 6, 2008 at 8:21 am · Reply
  2. Wendy I'm guessing you mean the Fred in the movie. In the book Fred was a marine iguana, though I suggest he's a slightly unusual one! In the movie it was much more practical a use an Australian bearded dragon.

    Good luck with your writing.
    November 6, 2008 at 8:24 am · Reply
  3. Paula Hardin I loved the movie Nim's Island, and since then I have been to your website to see of all of your work. Your to be admired. I'm not published yet, but I will be. Congrats on all of your success. Paula
    November 6, 2008 at 4:39 pm · Reply
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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