Posts Tagged ‘Henry Hoey Hobson’

As a kid, I loved reading Zane Grey westerns and Jack London adventures

I’d ride horses bareback and fight boys with sticks, then retire to my room with my uber-Barbie (the one with the swivel waist and the bendable knees).

I devoured Jane Eyre, Ann of Green Gables and Little Women with the same avid obsession as Reach for the Sky, the true story of Douglas Bader, the legless World War II fighter pilot.

In my dreams I was Black Canary from the Justice League of America comics, but it was Green Lantern’s motto that I would chant when alone:

In brightest day and blackest night

No evil Shall escape my sight

For those who worship evil’s might

Beware the power of Green Lantern’s light!

My childhood idols included Catwoman, the Lone Ranger, Emma Peel (for her lethal elegance) and Jane Russell (for her smart mouth).

I grew up to fight with girlfriends over my right to watch Diehard over Passage to India (which admittedly I still haven’t seen). But it didn’t stop me sobbing convulsively all the way home from Driving Miss Daisy.

I read Robert Ludlum and Wilbur Smith long before they became franchises, and would segue seamlessly from John Le Carre to Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen.

I’ve never preferred male authors to female authors, or female protagonists to their male counterparts; my lifelong preference is for well-written, strong stories with engaging characters.

So clearly I am the wrong person to ask “Is your latest book for boys or for girls?”

Henry Hoey Hobson is for anyone who ever missed out on the A-team, anyone who ever feared that they might not fit in, anyone who would love to be accepted for simply being him or herself.

And in my book, that would be just about all of us, wouldn’t it?



Feels like I been everywhere, man – Biloela, Rockhampton, Bracken Ridge, Toowoomba, Newmarket, Springfield, Ascot, and Sunshine Coast (for an online festival)… I barely had time for a breather after Book Week and now Brisbane Writers Festival is upon us.

Word Play, the kick-ass program for kids and lovers of youth literature kicks off on Wednesday with a host of international, award-winning, and best-selling authors and illustrators including Kate Forsyth, Morris Gleitzman, John Danalis, Leigh Hobbs, Gabrielle Wang and Dave Hackett.

I’m there Wednesday and Thursday introducing Henry Hoey Hobson to Years 6-9, trying not to look like a naughty school girl with my scraped knees and band aids.

Seriously, I’ll be hobbling rather than hobnobbing, after not one, but two nana falls in the past week.

I tripped over my Birkencrocs on the way to school last week. Tore my tights and looked like a right scrag when I fronted up at St Margaret’s for my Book Week talks to Years Six and Seven.

Then I opened up the same knee a few days later, crash-tackling my runaway beagle after he rifled my visiting brother’s suitcase and stole his socks.

I came away with an egg on my forehead, bent glasses, a tear in my brand-new jeans and a sliced open knee.

The beagle, of course, got away with the socks.

We writers are a sadistic lot.

We know that true character is revealed under pressure, so we force our protagonists to confront their deepest fear, then we crush them, just to see what they’re made of.

Well, what goes round, comes round… I’m about to find out if there’s any iron in my own filings.

On August 13, look for me amongst the rigging of Brisbane’s Story Bridge, where I’ll be joining a shortlist of CBCA Notable Authors to promote this year’s Book Week theme, Across the Story Bridge.

I said yes to the climb, despite the fact that I’ve been backing away from precipices, anything higher than the teacup ride at the Ekka, and the windows of high rise, for more than thirty years.

My dislike of heights dates back to my teenage years when a cousin dangled me over the edge of London Bridge on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road (in the days before it collapsed into the sea).

‘Hysterical’ does not do justice to my reaction.

Years later, I suspected I might have a problem with heights when I froze on Ayers Rock … at the beginning of the chain.

I’m improving with the years, after giving abseiling a go, hurtling down the odd flying fox, and most recently, taking all the really big chair lifts on the ski fields of Niseko.

I figure August 13 will be my Acrophobic Graduation ceremony.

I will climb the Story Bridge, and finally kiss my fear of heights (or my ass) goodbye.

If ever there were an occasion worth celebrating, it would have to be the birth of a book.

Novel writing is such a torturous exercise in delayed gratification.

The labour is elephantine, even for a relatively short, 53,000-word effort, like my latest offering.

Leonie and Marj

According to my diary, I started writing it on 22 March 2009.

I delivered the completed manuscript to my made-of-awesome publisher Leonie Tyle on 23 November last year.

Copy edits, courtesy of the redoubtable editing team of Rosie Fitzgibbon and Sarah Hazelton, were completed by Christmas.

First pages came through with proof readers’ comments, corrections and queries in February 2010.

By the 1st March, we had signed off on proof edits, the superb cover (by Geoff Kelly and Sandra Nobes), preliminary pages, acknowledgements, dedication and blurb.

While the book was off being printed, bound samples of the uncorrected proof were making their way into the hands of long-range media, booksellers and reviewers.

The first print run was boxed and delivered to bookstores at the end of June.

In July, exactly one year after my debut novel came out, my second novel hit the bookshelves in hundreds of bookstores around the country.

Me and Marj Kirkland at HHH launch

Last night, on 21st July, Marj Kirkland, National President of the Children’s Book Council of Australia launched it to a packed crowd at Coaldrake’s bookstore at Paddington Barracks in Brisbane.

Marj told them she had fallen in love with a twelve year old boy by the name of Henry Hoey Hobson.

She wasn’t the first – that distinction is mine – but I do hope she won’t be the last.

[A special thank you to the lovely Lynn Priestley of Zenquill for her fabulous photos of the launch.]

The nervous pit has gone from my stomach; first reviews of Henry Hoey Hobson have hit the streets:

‘Henry Hoey Hobson’ by Christine Bongers is a funny, fast-paced story, built around a likeable protagonist. Henry is an engaging narrator, who learns the importance of having people on your side, no matter what they look like. The book tackles themes of judgement, acceptance and family, both biological and chosen. This is a recommended read for upper-primary readers.’ Australian Bookseller and Publisher

‘An amusing entertainment for the sub-teens, a warm depiction of neighbourhood and community.’ Magpies Magazine

‘The narrative is well-paced – humour and heartache, trauma and triumph….This is truly a heart-warming story abut growing up and getting on with what life throws your way.’ The Reading Stack

And my personal favourite, courtesy of one of Henry’s creative inspirations:

‘In the Twilight age, it might be easy to think the Fright Night-style cover indicates yet another slipstreaming YA love-in-the-dark affair, but thankfully, it ain’t so. Chris grew up in the central west of Queensland and that dry, larrikin humour is tickling under the surface of this book, an affecting tale of a young fellah and his mum trying to cut it in the big smoke. It’s a yarn about family and fitting in and acceptance, the voice is spot-on, and the Addams Family elements made my day.’Vampires in the Sunburnt Country

And all of the above has made mine … G’night all, tonight I’ll sleep like the dead. ;)

Henry Hoey Hobson Brisbane launch

Ack, it’s almost upon us. The Brisbane launch of Henry Hoey Hobson.

There will be drinks and me and the fabulous Marj Kirkland, illustrious grand poobah of the Childrens Book Council of Australia. Also my esteemed publisher, Leonie Tyle, waving the Woolshed Press/Random House Australia banner.

Click here to check it out on Coaldrake’s Author Events and here for the true story behind Henry Hoey Hobson (yes, I made it all up, apart from the drinks around the coffin. That really happened).

Love to see any, and all, who can make it on the night.  Can. not. wait. :)

We’re celebrating a new arrival in the Bongers household this week: the first advance copy of Henry Hoey Hobson.

The uncorrected proof in book form is now making its way to booksellers and reviewers ahead of its 1 July launch.

Here’s a sneak preview …

Cover illustration by Geoff Kelly Cover design by Sandra Nobes

Twelve-year-old Henry Hoey Hobson arrives at his sixth school, Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, to discover he’s the only boy in Year Seven.

Friendless, fatherless and non-Catholic, Henry is not only a Perpetual Sucker, but a bloodsucker, according to his catty classmates.

When he’s caught moving a coffin into the creepy house next door, it drives a stake through the heart of his hopes of fitting in.

His only chance to fight back is the school swimming carnival – sink-or-swim time in the treacherous waters of Year Seven.

HHH is a hero to cheer for ’til your tonsils hang out on strings.

So, what do you think?