When I took my first baby steps as a writer of fiction, it was the good folk at the Qld Writers Centre who held my hand and picked me up when I stumbled and fell.

They encouraged me to walk unassisted, and then to run. They clapped when I did cartwheels over my first book contract, and my second.

So what do you say to an organisation that has been with you every step of your writing journey?

You say, thanks. Publicly. You urge anyone with an interest in writing to do themselves a favour and join the QWC. And when that organisation asks if you’d like to be part of their blog tour, you say Hell, yeah.

QWC: Where do your words come from?

I’m tempted to say out of my fingertips, because no matter how much I plan my writing, what sprouts from the ends of my fingers when I settle at the keyboard always manages to surprise me.

For me, writing is a numinous blend of art (evoking the subconscious) and craft (using conscious intent derived from a lifetime in skills training).  As a kid, I would have read brown paper if there was nothing else to read. I could have read for Australia if they ever made it an Olympic sport.  I wrote for a living for twenty years before I turned to writing fiction.

For me, American poet Hart Crane nails it: “One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper pattern at the right moment.”

QWC: Where did you grow up and where do you live now?

I grew up on an farm outside a railway siding called Jambin, just up the road from Biloela, Central Queensland. I left there to go to Uni and have lived in Brisbane pretty much ever since.

But that’s just geography. I really grew up in a marriage that brought with it two pre-schoolers as part of an excellent package deal. Seven years later, I still had two preschoolers underfoot – my life was ground hog day – and it taught me everything I needed to know to start writing fiction.

QWC: What’s the first sentence/line of your latest work?

I’ve just finished writing a children’s novel about a kid called Henry Hoey Hobson who is the only boy in Year Seven.  It starts like this:

‘She was waiting with a gaggle of mates, blocking the steps leading back down from our classroom. Golden in the sunlight, with that curious blend of stealth and grace that marked out the queens of the jungle. I lumbered towards the all-female pride, a wildebeest, hellbent on his own destruction.

QWC: What piece of writing do you wish you had written?

I actually said ‘I wish I’d written that’ when I read Karen Foxlee’s The Anatomy of Wings. A wonderful novel, beautifully written, that resonated with my own experience of growing up on the fringes of a mining town.

But the one passage that gives me goose bumps every time I read it is Shakespeare’s St Crispin’s Day speech from Henry V. It is everything I aspire to in my writing.

QWC: What are you currently working towards?

My dream is to publish a novel a year, and so far, with exactly one published novel under my belt (Dust 2009), I am right on target.

However I am keeping the dream alive with Henry Hoey Hobson due out in July 2010, and a work-in-progress, The Lonely Dead (an adult crime novel), my big hope for 2011 .

QWC: Complete this sentence: The future of the book is…

…in good stories, well told. The packaging is not my central concern. E-books will have their way with the willing. There will always be people, like me, who are seduced by the crack of a virgin spine, the scent wafting up from the riffle of pages, the shiver of anticipation on reading the dedication and turning to Chapter 1…

This post is part of the Queensland Writers Centre blog tour, happening October to December 2009. To follow the tour, visit Queensland Writers Centre’s blog The Empty Page.

Hyperlink: http://www.qwc.asn.au/Resources/TheEmptyPageBlog.aspx

  1. Well spoken, Chris – enjoyed your input to the tour and finding out more about you.

    • chrisbongers says:

      I’ve really enjoyed reading other writers’ posts on these questions too, Sheryl. It has allowed me to catch up with some old and new friends and where they currently are with their writing.

  2. Tracey says:

    I absolutely agree about opening a new book and smelling the pages.

  3. Hi Chris, I resonate with everything you said especially about QWC’s supportive role with Emerging Writers and Karen Foxlee’s superb book ‘Anatomy of Wings’. I’m can’t wait for my turn on the Blog Tour in a week’s time! … Karen T.
    PS Loved your YA novel, ‘Dust’.

  4. chrisbongers says:

    Thanks, Karen. I’ll keep an eye out for your stop on the tour. 🙂

  5. Fantastic, Chris. The crack of a virgin spine..indeed, and the process thereafter, arriving at chapter one. So agree with you. Congrats to you and to QWC, also, for being such a great and supportive organisation. QWC…wouldn’t be without them!

  6. chrisbongers says:

    Lynn, a fellow writer once told me that our Qld Writers’ Centre is the envy of other States, and I have every reason to believe him. It is indeed the duck’s nuts.

  7. leemcgowan says:

    duck’s nuts indeed.

    great answers Chris. I almost wrote something very similar in the growing up part. Your words rang right through me.

    I used to be really precious about cracking spines. I didn’t want the book damaged. Now I tear in. I don’t ever go as far as a friend who happily dismantles a book for the sake of making it easier to carry.

    nice work.

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