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Author overcomes grief to finish book

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Life was looking great for Nadia Aguiar. She'd signed with British publishers Puffin Books and was working her way through the children's series she'd outlined in her head.

And then tragedy struck.

Her husband, Tim Hasselbring, was diagnosed with metastatic cancer and died in 2012. Ms Aguair was left to raise their 15-month-old daughter, Havilland alone.

“Writing did not help me through the hard times,” she said.

“There is no part of it that you can just do without thinking. I wrote during that period, just not very well.

“Writing requires enormous concentration, and that is difficult in a stressful situation. It took me five years to write my third book.

“It was late to the publishers so I did lose a bit of momentum and had to fight my way back up again.”

The Great Wave of Tamarind went on sale in America in March after debuting in the United Kingdom last summer.

The book continues the adventures of the Nelson siblings who live on a boat. The youngest, Penny, is now a teenager and is drawn back to the mysterious island of Tamarind.

There, she finds a strange creature wreaking havoc while a great wave is on the way with the magic capable of stabilising the island.

To save Tamarind and collect the magic, Penny has to brave dark ocean depths, survive jungle perils and outwit a monster bent on chaos.

The story is set on a fictional island but there are hints of Bermuda.

The cove in Tamarind was “directly inspired” by Hungry Bay in Paget, where Ms Aguiar sometimes goes kayaking and rowing.

“Now that it is done I feel proud of it and excited and happy for it to make its way in the world,” she said. “The Great Wave of Tamarind is the last in the series.

“I feel a bit nostalgic about it. It went to the printers a year ago so it feels like it's set in a place I lived in a long time ago, and about people I once knew but don't see much anymore.”

Her young fans help keep the memory alive.

“For the most part you work in a room by yourself for a long time so getting a letter is nice,” she said.

“I got a letter from South Africa last week.

“I've also had them from the United States, Ireland, Canada and England.”

And she loves talking to local readers.

“I was in Bermuda getting on an aircraft the other day and a kid I didn't know came up to me and asked me to sign a book,” she said.

“That was quite fun. My publishers are strongly encouraging me to do social media, which I haven't so far. So now I am setting up a website and a Facebook page.”

Her daughter Havilland is now five, and loves to read.

“She's still a bit too young to read my books,” said Ms Aguiar.

“I read Roald Dahl's book The Witches to her, and at the end she said, ‘I am never reading that to my children'.

“Although you never really know what age is reading your books, the Tamarind books are targeted at children ten to 14 years old. Havilland knows I write books and she knows the covers. She likes to show my books to people sometimes. She has a little cardboard laptop and occasionally she will sit next to me as I write.”

Havilland is already penning her own stories.

“There is a recurring character called the Mummy Monster,” laughed Ms Aguiar. “I'm working on my next book. It will be completely different. It is aimed at older young adults.

“It is a cracking adventure story, but it is a lot about loss and about these two main characters building new lives.”

Nadia Aguiar rowing in Hungry Bay. The area inspired the setting in her latest novel The Great Wave of Tamarind (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Inspired by island: Nadia Aguiar with her latest book The Great Wave of Tamarind (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published May 22, 2017 at 9:00 am (Updated May 22, 2017 at 2:07 am)

Author overcomes grief to finish book

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