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14 February 2013 ·

Nim Stories in the Next Big Thing blog tag

My lovely friend, and brilliant artist and author Lauren Stringer tagged me for “The Next Big Thing,” and so after a bit of confusion, I’m doing it again with a different book. Lauren wrote about her When Stravinsky met Nijinsky  – now isn’t that a title you just have to pick up!   
So here is my ‘next big thing’: The Nim Stories.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
Nim’s Island was inspired by a story I wrote when I was nine. We were on the ferry to Vancouver Island, to visit my grandparents, and passed a tiny little island. As soon as I saw it I thought, “I wish I lived there!” When we got home I started writing “Spring Island,” about a girl who runs away from an orphanage to live on an island. I think the orphan inspiration came from Anne of Green Gables, which I’d just read.
One week many years later, I received 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?”  “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?  And why was it more exciting?
The answer was, “Because she lived on an island.”
After many false starts  I remembered the story I’d written when I was nine, and Nim’s Island came to life. (Yes, my mother still has the original. I scanned the cover when I visited my parents after the Nim’s Island Hollywood premiere – it was quite a strange feeling finding it!).
I’d always wanted to write Nim at Sea to find out after the end of the story, but one of the inspirations was a letter from a girl named Erin, who said that she wished she could be Nim’s friend. I thought, “Yes, Nim needs a human friend her own age!” That’s why I named her Erin.
Then my publisher was inspired to put the two books together to celebrate the movie Return to Nim’s Island, which is loosely based on Nim at Sea.
What genre does your book fall under?
Children’s fiction – fantasy adventure.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Interestingly, since I’ve been truly thrilled with the different actors who’ve played the characters in the two movies, it brings me back to my truth that everyone who reads a book owns it by interpreting it in their own way. Abigail Breslin and Bindi Irwin are very different actors, but they have both been perfect as Nim. Both Gerard Butler and Matthew Lillard were wonderful as her dad Jack. And of course the inimitable Jodie Foster, who even looked like the Alex Rover in my head…
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Two books in one: Nim’s Island and Nim at Sea, the stories of a girl who lives on an island in the middle of the wide blue sea, with her father, Jack, a marine iguana called Fred, a sea lion called Selkie, a turtle called Chica and a satellite dish for her email.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I think the first draft of Nim’s Island took about nine months, (or 34 years, depending on which way you look at it.) The first draft of Nim at Sea probably took six months, but I think went to even more drafts over the following year.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Anne of Green Gables!
What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
from Nim at Sea; illustration by Kerry Millard
I didn’t think about them being ‘girl power’ books, but they’re often seen that way because Nim is strong, independent and resourceful. On the other hand, adventures with a sea lion and a marine iguana would certainly pique my interest, so I hope they would other readers as well.
I’ve now tagged:

They’ll be posting in a week’s time – it’ll be great to see what their Next Big Things are! But you can have a look at their blogs now anyway: lots of interesting stuff there. 


  1. S. L. Duncan Fantastic interview, Wendy! I love that the NIM Stories are together at last. What a fantastic series it is! And thanks for the tag. ;)
    February 15, 2013 at 1:17 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