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4 April 2012 ·

Chatting to Cheryl Rainfield about Facing the Mountain

I forgot to link this when it went up last month, and there’s a nice reason to do it today: The Children’s Book Council of Australia award list was revealed yesterday, and Raven’s Mountain (the Australian edition  is a Notable book. A lovely recognition for the book, and a very nice feeling for me as the book comes out in Canada, as Facing the Mountain.

The competition in the original post has now finished, but if you can’t get to a book store, Facing the Mountain is also available from online booksellers such as,

And they’re both available as ebooks:

 Facing the MountainKobo books or
Google Play

Raven’s Mountain: Readings
Kindle e-book
The Avid Reader
Books and Beyond

and other sources of ebooks.

Cheryl Rainfield: � Guest Post by Children’s & YA author Wendy Orr, & enter contest to win a copy of her new book

A story’s origins often start long, long before the idea that builds into a book. On the week that Facing the Mountain is released, I’m puzzling out where the story and characters came from.
Was it the summer I was eight and fell in love with the Rockies at Camp Kananaskis, in Alberta? Or when my family moved from Red Deer, to Colorado, and my dad, younger sister and I climbed Pikes Peak? Or sleeping out in the woods north of Lillooet, BC, and hearing that a grizzly had taken a camper the week before?
The truth is that too many threads go into one book to tease them all out. Some are simple and obvious: climbing a 4000m mountain, no matter how safe and near civilization, felt like a huge adventure and accomplishment. But it wasn’t the pride I started with: it was the panic of the sudden breathlessness at about 3000m. I thought that would happen to the main character, Raven, too – but when I wrote it, it was the older sister, Lily, who hit the oxygen wall.
I also thought Raven would love the mountains as I did – but the more I wrote, the more I saw that she wasn’t me, and she certainly didn’t love mountains. How could she? Her mother has remarried: Raven has been uprooted from the only home she’s ever known and the prairie town she’s always lived in. The mountains, and especially the rockfall, are a symbol of everything that’s changing in her life. Of course I didn’t see the symbolism while I was writing; that comes later. I simply thought that she didn’t like the claustrophobic feeling of trees and mountains, just like my Red Deer friend Gay, who spent two weeks with my family on Vancouver Island and loathed the closeness of the tall trees around the cabin. (In fact Raven’s personality is very much drawn on Gay’s, even though none of their story is the same. And her bossy story telling friend Jess… hmm, who could that be based on?)
But no matter who characters are based on initially, or what incident has sparked their book, the longer I write and rewrite, the more they become their own people and shape their stories themselves. That’s the magic of writing, and why it’s the greatest adventure of all.

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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