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15 February 2011 ·

Nim’s Island book group questions

This post is for Megan from Singapore, who wrote to me last week about doing Nim’s Island in her book club. My email to her has bounced back, so just in case she checks here:

Thanks very much for our letter. I’m very glad you enjoyed Nim’s Island, and that you’re enjoying your book club! And since it’s Valentine’s Day in the northern hemisphere, I’ve added a Nim’s Island Valentine’s Day card.
Why did you write the book Nim’s Island?
Nim’s Island was inspired partly by two letters from girls asking me to write a book about them. I said that I couldn’t do that, but I started playing the writer’s game of “What if?” (two very important words in finding stories). “What if a girl wrote to an author and said “Could you please write a book about me?” and the author said, “No, because I’m a very famous writer who writes very exciting books, and since you’re just a little girl your life would be much too boring.”  But what if the girl’s life was more exciting than the author’s? 
I then decided that the girl’s life was more exciting because she lived on an island, and write the book all in letters between the girl and the author – which was very boring. Finally I remembered a story I’d written when I was 9, about a little girl running away from an orphanage to life alone on an island – and finally Nim’s Island came to life.
So the inspiration was partly those letters, but the deeper inspiration was seeing a tiny little island when I was 9 and thinking that I’d like to live on it, because that’s why I wrote that first story.
What inspires you for your writing?
I just love stories, and sometimes I see something, hear something, or just think of something that makes me start thinking – I wonder what else might happen, or what if something was just a little bit different….
Where did you get your Ideas?
From everything I see, hear, do and think!
I live in Singapore but do you think that I can get my Ideas the same way you do?
Of course. Where we live doesn’t make any difference to how we get the ideas; we’ll just see different things to start us thinking. (And even when two people see exactly the same thing, it will probably give them both slightly different ideas.)
Why did you make the story the way you did?
That’s how it seemed logical to me. I always try a few ways in my head before I start writing to figure out the best way to tell the story; often I have to completely rewrite it because the first way I thought doesn’t work after all. Eventually I find the way that I think the story needs to be. 
Do you have any connections to this story? 
Do you mean is it true at all? Not really; the connection to me is that I love islands, and stories…
In the ending of the book Nim’s Island, does Alexandra Rover move to Nim’s Island? 
Do Alexandra and Jack get married,
I think so. 
 or does Nim find the whale that her mom got eaten/trapped in and find her?
No; her mom really is dead and can’t come back, so finding the whale wouldn’t really solve anything. 

 Did you ever think about any of the questions that I just asked about the book? 
Some of them but not all! They were good questions. 


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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