Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category


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. 🙂





Here’s looking at you, Mum

Posted: October 19, 2012 in Family, Musings
Back in 1966, at the age of 36, my mum had given birth to six children in the previous six years – including two sets of twins.

She’s pictured here (at Kemp Beach, Yeppoon, with the younger twins), looking effortlessly elegant in her brother Neil’s hat.

Forty-six years later, she’d probably still fit into that dress… legacy of a lifetime of taking only one potato – and then promptly offering it to the nearest child in need (I suspect I was that child a bit too often for my own good).

I often wish I could be more like my mum – but it’s probably too late now to say no to potatoes – so tonight I’ll simply settle for being with her.

I’m hopping on a plane and flying up to Bilo to help celebrate her birthday. She didn’t think turning 82 was worth making a fuss about, but I beg to differ.

Every birthday is a cause for celebration. And we’ll remind her of that every year from now on:

You only live once, Mum…but if you do it right, once is enough. 🙂

Catty’s gone

Posted: August 8, 2012 in Family, Musings

Sixteen years ago a friend walked in with a grey ball of fluff that his daughter had given him.

‘My kids have grown up,’ he said. ‘I don’t need any new commitments. You take him. You’re not going anywhere for the next sixteen years. ‘

Still in the glow of newly wedded bliss, I let that one slide and picked up the kitten. ‘Does he have a name?’ I asked.

And surprisingly the little ball of fur answered for himself. ‘Al,’ he meowed, and I was sold.

Who could resist a cat that could say his own name?

Yes, he was my cat, but to his credit, he took to each new child with delight, sleeping at their feet at night, and trotting up to the school through their primary school years to walk them home.

He was the ultimate party cat: jumping the fence to join the fairy circle at the neighbour’s birthday party; displaying a bizarre affection for family beach holidays; and always finding the lap of whichever visitor had the strongest aversion to felines.

It took him more than three years to forgive us for getting the beagle, despite the pleasures he discovered in tormenting him.

And for sixteen years, he was my little mate. I spent more hours with Al than with hubba hubby or the kids or my friends or all of my extended family put together. And yesterday he died in my arms.

I thought I’d cried myself out, but it seems that I haven’t…

RIP Allan Hallam, you dear old thing.

You will always be the best catty ever.

Is Christine Bongers dead?

Lordy me, I hope not. As my dear cousin pointed out, you wouldn’t want to find out you’d carked it from the internet.

I can always tell when some teacher, somewhere, forces her kids to do an assignment on one of my books.

My blog stats start showing an upsurge of interest in the darnedest of things.

Like my age…my date of birth…what hospital I was born in…(I know, I know, why would anyone want to know that??)

But just for the record, it was Biloela Hospital, OK?

I clocked in at seven-and-a-half pounds with a lovely thatch of dark hair on a hot night in late February, and spent the 1960s proving that Biloela was no backwater when it came to fashion.

And for all those students incessantly googling my date of birth, allow me to put you out of your misery.

I am exactly the same age as my protagonist Cecilia Maria in Dust.

If you read the book, you should be able to figure it out. 😉

I thought I was alone. The only person who still punctuates text messages.

But no, according to the Urban Dictionary, I am a fully classified species: a Grammar Nazi.

It started innocently enough.

Winning the Jambin State School spelling bee…Earning those five easy marks in every assignment for correct spelling and grammar in high school…

Learning the hard way as a journalist that errors in sentence construction and tense would be circled in shameful red and flung back at me with re-write scrawled across the offending copy.

I finally realised that I had graduated from being a fully paid-up member of the Spelling Police to a complete Grammar Nazi when I found myself googling the correct use of the hyphen with compound verbs and adverbs.

My only saving grace is that I don’t correct others….unless, of course, they ask for it. And then I do try to be nice, always saying softly, ‘There, their, they’re.’

Boo me now – but I have never been a dog person.

I know they’re cute, they’re loyal and they love unconditionally. But they also stink, they’re needy, they have fleas.

They have some seriously distasteful licking and eating habits, and lordy lordy, don’t get me started on their by-products. The very thought of picking up a hot steaming pile of doggy-do has always left me cold. Sweaty, clammy, full-body-shuddery, cold.

For years I resisted our children’s pleas for a dog. My excuse was always the same: my dance card was full.

I didn’t have a spare hour in my day to walk/worm/wash/wipe up after a dog. Besides, the older two already had a dog at their mum’s; the younger two would just have to make do with the cat.

I held firm until the night our eleven year old woke to find a prowler standing over her bed. The next day, I started the search for a dog.

What we needed was obvious. Something that would defend our children with its life. Something that would strike fear into the heart of a would-be home invader. Something that would bark like a slavering hound from hell the moment any evil doer set foot on our property.

What we got was this…

Something so fearsome we named him Huggy.

Something so intelligent that friends and family started referring to him as the Derek Zoolander of beagles – really, really, really good looking….but not very bright.

Something so brave he lives in fear of the cat.

Something that likes to roll in dead cockroaches.

Something that smells so bad (even for a dog), that I eventually asked the vet if there was something wrong with him. (Delicacy prevents me from going into his anal gland problem, but considering that his Daddy is a gastroenterologist, he is one faulty unit).

Despite his flaws, I have succumbed. He sleeps on the front verandah and his ballsy baritone bark can be heard in Biloela if anyone dares to open the front gate.

To thank him for his night time vigilance, I pick up his poos without complaint and let him sleep on my bed during the day (but only on Daddy’s side, because they both tend to shed).

I am now a dog tragic. My conversion is complete. I feel sorry for my former dogless self.

I used to hate needy; now I am needy.

I need someone in my life who greets each and every day with unbridled enthusiasm. Who eats any old crap I care to dish up – and loves it. Who pushes me out of the way to clean up the cat vomit. Who loves my kids just as much I do.

Happy birthday Huggy.

We love you. You’re a good dog, a very good dog, oh yes you are!

It’s been a crazy summer. Jam-packed with more than some koalas could bear.

Rain. Snow. Heat wave. More rain.

Thirty-eight Bonger-Dongers for a Beach Christmas, dwindling to a mere eleven for New Year.  Followed by ten days in Japan, then home again, home again, jiggety-jig, for some quality time in bed with a nasty airline-induced flu.

There are still nine of us bunking together this week. Trying to figure out if the newest member of the clan will recognise us on skype when he goes home to the Can (my brother’s pithy codename for our national capital).

Builders are in my back yard, digging potholes in the rain. Builders are up the coast, waiting for a break in the weather to replace a leaking roof and water-damaged ceilings.

Our baby has started high school. Our almost-twenty-year-old has moved back in. Our fourteen-year-old is sleeping on whatever floor she can find.

It’s chaos, but I find myself oddly happy. Fortified and refreshed. Ready for the new year and all of its challenges.

I’m lucky, my family keeps me grounded. (But sending them all back to work and school gives me wings.) 😉