funny-kid-jokes-4Every time I release a new book and start referring to it as my ‘new baby’, a conversation from long ago comes back to haunt me . . .

A girlfriend and I were caught wrong-footed at a Uni party where a mutual friend was showing off his new baby (a genuine ‘little surprise’ in those pre-procreational days).

One look at the wee babe’s finger-in-the-power-socket expression and hair, and we stammered out something like ‘Oooh, nice booties’ and escaped to the bar.

My girlfriend asked me quite seriously what I’d do if I ever had an FLK, a funny looking kid.

‘Well, I wouldn’t know, would I?’ I remember saying. ‘I’d think it was beautiful and no-one would be game to tell me any different.’

Sigh. So young.

Fast forward thirty-odd years, and I’ve found that book babies don’t get treated with kid gloves. If you’ve given birth to an FLK, trust me, you find out pretty damn quick in the world of online reviews where everyone’s a critic.

One way or another, first reviews do put us out of our misery. I know we can never please all of the punters all of the time, but at least I can take heart from the comments coming in; Intruder isn’t just beautiful in my eyes. :)

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‘This is contemporary realistic Aussie teen fiction at its best. Christine Bongers’ voice is engaging, drawing the reader in with her easy style and at times lyrical first person narration… compelling coming of age drama addressing identity, belonging and truth.’  CBCA Buzz about Books newsletter

‘A complex, intelligent novel … minor characters are beautifully fleshed out and the dialogue sparkles with life. Recommended.’ Magpies Magazine, June 2014.

‘Intruder is a story that will be adored by those on the transition between childhood and adolescence.  It has just enough suspense to keep turning the page, but not enough to terrify; its characters are diverse, realistic, memorable and recognisable and show that we all need a little bit of everyone to enrich our lives.’ Barbara Braxton, Australian Teacher Librarian Network, REVIEW: Intruder Yr 6-8.

Intruder by Christine Bongers was impossible to not fall in love with …suspenseful yet not scary, full of real fears and the harsh realities of family life but also moments of laughter and love that transcends all. It really is beautiful.’ Children’s Books Daily

‘I love the gritty realism that defines this author’s writing…Intruder is smart and funny, with authentic characters and poignant moments of insight and affection. Highly recommended.’ You’vegotbuckley’s.edublog, this is the best book, ever…

‘Bongers does a wonderful job of bringing her characters to life with all their foibles; her descriptions of Herc and his interaction with Kat are priceless. There’s a lot of charm in this yarn, mixing humour and tension in a believable scenario that unearths home truths and serves up a warning about the dangers of jumping to conclusions. It also contains a message on the power of family and trust to overcome even the most dire of situations. Kat and dog might not be superheroes, but they make a winning pair.’ Vampires in the Sunburnt Country.

‘Intruder is a satisfying read containing some crime, some romance and some drama. It’s a really nicely constructed story about family, grief and healing, and it stars an absolutely charming dog.’ Readings.com.au.

‘This is a book about family, friendship and facing fear, with an unexpected twist at the end … suitable for readers from 11 upwards. The incident with the intruder, while frightening Kat, is handled sensitively with suspense rather than terror, and encourages discussion about personal safety.’ The Reading Stack

If you’d like to add your own review, please feel free to do so, either in the comments below, or by clicking on the following link: Goodreads | Intruder by Christine Bongers — Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs, Lists.

 

My husband and I were snoring when you snuck in over the front balcony of our Yamba holiday unit in the early hours of last Thursday.

Thank heavens Nana didn’t stumble upon you. She’s often up and down during the night. But at 87, she’d had a big day at the Angourie rock pools and slept through it all, her ‘ears’ turned off, and tucked into their case on the bedside table.

So no-one heard you take our mobiles, my laptop, or Nana’s camera with its precious holiday snaps of her grandkids.

There was no-one to stop you slipping the keys to our unit and car into your pocket, opening the garage door downstairs and rolling our station wagon out into darkness.

My mobile wasn’t locked. So I guess you scrolled through my photos. Saw those hundreds of silly shots of the dog and the kids.

And I know you looked at my facebook. Because I found your message when I got home.

fb sorry

 

Those two little words sent at 4.16am.

Oh sorry.

And I wondered then, what were you thinking.

What made you reach out across the ether, knowing that I’d  find that message in a bottle when it washed up on the shores of my home wifi.

Nana AngourieWas it the photo of Nana, so happy at Angourie, that brought on an attack of conscience? Such a lovely holiday, she kept saying, thank you, dear, for bringing me.

Or was it the night rushing past as someone else drove? Leaving you free to lean your head against the window and wonder about the family who’d wake to find their car gone?

Or was it just that automatic apology that pops out when you intrude on someone else’s space? When you walk into the wrong bedroom by mistake, or open someone else’s facebook page, expecting your own?

I don’t know you, but I’d like to think that you meant it.

You see, I know where you went after you stole my car.Gold Coast

Google+ sent me automatic backups of the photos you took from my mobile.

My husband was so pleased to see that his stand-up paddle board was still safe on the roof racks of our car. He hopes his wetsuit also survived the trip to the Gold Coast (and that funny crate he uses to store all his important bits that no-one else cares about, like surfboard wax, sun block and leg ropes).

We were actually tracking your progress through Broadbeach when the police called this morning to say they’d found our car. Locked up and abandoned down a dirt track at Angourie. In good nick, he said, apart from the tree sap, which will be a bugger to get off when we get it home.

He couldn’t see if the wetsuits were still in the boot. Said there was a plant on the back seat, was it mine? Maybe, I said, it’s a thank you gift from you, for borrowing our car?

So, I’m guessing that you made it back home. I’m glad. Because for some reason, I picture you as a kid, and I worry about the dumb things that kids do. You might have got away with it this time. But then again, maybe not.

It’s not safe what you’re doing, you know. A trip to the Gold Coast isn’t worth it. Stop now. Please. While you still can.

 

 

Teacher+Apple+CardThe most common question I’ve been asked since Intruder came out is what age group is it for?

I struggle with this question because I read a lot of YA fiction myself (despite being well outside the demographic). And I’ve always thrown my own bookshelves open to our kids, figuring that anything that was genuinely too old for them would defeat them or go over their heads.

 Choosing what to read is one of the incandescent pleasures of the book lover. And it is one that we deny children to their peril.

Restricting what children read is fraught, particularly in their final year of primary school when so many readers are at their most voracious, poised on the cusp of adolescence, and reaching for a greater understanding of the world that is opening up to them.

I vividly remember my own desire as a child to read books denied to me by virtue of my years. And the truth is that I read them anyway, often perplexed at what the fuss was about.

As an adult, I write layered texts that can be read and appreciated at different levels and ages. If pressed, I might recommend Intruder for anyone aged between 12 and 112, as I know that for different reasons, the story will resonate and appeal across that age range.

Intruder fits easily into the secondary English curriculum, but you can imagine my delight when the Oz Teacher Librarian Network reviewed Intruder for Years 6-8:

Intruder is a story that will be adored by those on the transition between childhood and adolescence. It has just enough suspense to keep turning the page, but not enough to terrify; its characters are diverse, realistic, memorable and recognizable and show that we all need a little bit of everyone to enrich our lives….this story would have great value as a small-group read, perhaps as a book club, where readers can discuss its layers, explore the what-ifs, and perhaps not only gain some insight into the tunnel-vision of the age group, but perhaps develop some safety strategies as well.’ Barbara Braxton, Teacher Librarian, Cooma [click here for full review].

It was a pleasure catching up with so many teachers and librarians at Random House’s Meet-the-Authors do at the Book Garden in Brisbane this week – thank you to all those who were able to come.

For those who’d love to know what they missed, please click here for teacher and children’s writer Rebecca Sheraton’s comprehensive and entertaining commentary on the event.

Also, Teachers Resources for Intruder are now available on the Random House Website.

Just click on the link below and it will transport you directly to a veritable corncucopia of useful classroom activities.

http://www.randomhouse.com.au/content/teachers/intruder.pdf

 

 

 

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Who knows how, when, or even why this Blog Hop on Writing Process even started.

But if it’s good enough for my friend, fellow author and all-round nice guy Michael Gerard Bauer to sass his way through four questions on his writing process, then it’s good enough for me.

So here goes.

1. What are you working on at the moment?

[Cue: deer-caught-in-the-headlights]

Em … [That question ranks right alongside people asking (as one did at last week's launch of Intruder) 'When's your next one coming out?' My first impulse is to lie - because  the truth does not set us free. The truth is I'm trapped on Level 181 of Candy Crush. Trapped like my protagonist Win Mackie in my adult work-in-progress The Lonely Dead. Trapped by a terrifying past and an intricate web of lies half a lifetime in the making. And that's just me. Win Mackie's in an even tighter spot.] 

2. How do you think your work differs from other writers in your genre?

Well, I don’t know, how many other writers of fiction for children and young adults are working on adult literary crime at the moment?

3. Why do you write what you write?

Because I have no choice. Stories either sink their teeth in or they don’t.

4. What’s your writing process and how does it work?

I day-dream, incessantly, obsessively about my main character and their (usually ghastly) situation. I interrogate my characters ruthlessly,letting scenes spool through my head, as I dream up ways of making it worse, making it funny and making it matter. Generally, I need three strong ideas to come together in a unique way to make a novel work.

I usually don’t start writing until I come up with something that makes me cry. And that’s often the ending. It can change in the writing (and often does, as I discover unforeseen depths of character and dramatic opportunities as I write the story).

Writing novels is a bit like driving in the country. You can have a destination in mind, and a map, but it’s the discoveries along the way that make the journey unforgettable.

Well, that’s it for me on the Blog Hop, folks. I can’t resist dobbing in Katherine Battersby next, so hop over to her blog sometime at The Well Read Rabbit to see if she takes up the challenge. :)

 

 

 

 

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Really looking forward to catching up with the lovely Belinda Murrell and the ever engaging Tristan Bancks at Random House’s Teachers do in Brisbane next week.

Any English teachers who fancy a scone and a bit of bookish chit chat, please email deb@thebookgarden.com.au – we’d love to see you there!

IMG_0737A third novel is a bit like a third pregnancy –  knowing what’s ahead doesn’t make it any easier – and as the months drag by, you just want to get it out!

Well,  Intruder is well and truly out now, launched last night by the legendary Isobelle Carmody to an enthusiastic home-town crowd at Riverbend Books.

Isobelle Carmody launching Intruder

It was so lovely to be back at Riverbend, the site of my first book launch almost five years ago.

Owner Suzy Wilson pointed out where a slim volume titled Dust has been immortised on Riverbend’s marvellous book wall, sandwiched between Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Nick Earls’ The True Story of Butterfish. 

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Suzy was in her usual fine form – despite sitting up till 3.30 in the morning reading Intruder (she said she couldn’t put it down which is what every writer wants to hear).

And it just got better from there. I’m still reeling from Isobelle’s generosity in taking time out from a schedule that would overwhelm any lesser being and for making the night unforgettable.

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So…Bouquets to Isobelle for  her warm and generous comments, to my lovely agent Leonie Tyle from Tyle&Bateson Publishing for championing my books, to my hubba hubby for shouting the bar, and to my friends, my posse, my blood for supporting me, last night and always.

Oh, and brickbats to the prowler who broke into our house five years ago – finally I get my revenge!Chris Bongers and Isobelle Carmody

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So excited to have international best-selling author Isobelle Carmody launching my new novel Intruder on 31 May.

Prague’s loss is Brisbane’s gain, so we’re going to launch this Queensland-style, on the deck at Riverbend Books, Bulimba.

If you’re in the mood to welcome into the world a ‘gripping new coming of age story’ (thank you Random House, I never know how to describe my books in six words or less) please come celebrate with the pair of us.

It’s a free event, but there will be wine, so please rsvp to events@riverbendbooks.com.au or ph: 07 3899 8555

Love to see you there. :)