Archive for the ‘YA Fiction’ Category

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. 🙂

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Some stories start in dark places and, prompted by the question What if? emerge slowly into the light. This story started five years ago when my daughter was woken by a man standing over her bed. She was eleven years old.

We were lucky. The prowler ran off when she challenged him. And my child is resilient; she recovered much faster than I did.

Motherhood is guilt. Particularly when they’re little. Forgot your lunch, sweetie? That’d be Mum’s fault. Turned up in full uniform when everyone else was wearing free dress? Definitely Mum’s fault.

Mothers are great at taking responsibility. I swear some Mum is out there right now taking the blame for the Ukraine crisis and the fall of the dollar.

We’re  even better at torturing ourselves with terrifying ‘what ifs’. . .

But as the years safely passed, I stopped beating myself up as a mother and found myself responding to that prowler incident as a writer. Turning it over in my mind, intrigued by the fictional possibilities prompted by that most tantalising of questions: ‘what if…?’

What if it happened to a girl who was home alone? What if her mum was dead? What if her dad worked nights? What if the only person who came running when she screamed was the one person she hated most in the world?

And so the story of Intruder began to emerge, each question prompting countless others.

Why does Kat hate her neighbour Edwina? How could her dad Jimmy leave her alone, night after night? How would a vulnerable, motherless, once-bitten, twice shy teen react to a guard dog being forced on her? And how would she respond to the unexpected and unconditional love it offered?

On one level, Intruder is about vulnerability and what we need in our lives to make us feel safe. On another, it is about how the inescapable past shapes and, at times, traps us.

Like all of us, Kat sees the world through the prism of her own experiences. She hates her neighbour; she knows what she saw. A single shocking snippet of reality that sets like concrete in her mind and becomes the bedrock for all her subsequent actions.

The intruder is the catalyst for change in Kat’s life. Bringing her simmering problems with her troubled father, Jimmy, to the boil. Shattering her fragile belief that she is fine on her own. Forcing her to accept help – from the unwanted dog, Hercules, the new boy, Al, and her much-hated neighbour, Edwina. And ultimately, compelling her to face a truth buried in the bedrock of the past.

To paraphrase one of my favourite characters: Intruder is like an onion. It has layers. I hope its readers enjoy peeling them back. 🙂

Intruder by Christine Bongers – Published by Random House Australia – In bookstores 2 June 2014.

With just a month to go before the Children’s Book Council of Australia releases its Notable Books for 2014, my bedside reading pile is toppling under the weight of must-reads.

So far, three fantastic Australian YA novels have claimed slots in my Clayton’s shortlist:

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What are your hot tips for best Aussie YA reads published last year?

RHA_Intruder_Front cover 21-03-14Ooh, look what’s turned up in my inbox – the front cover of Intruder, coming out on 1st June!

I love it, I love it, I really do (and so do random teens in my life – including the fourteen-year-old boys, interestingly enough).

Here’s a sneak preview:

I don’t walk past the house next door. I don’t speak to the evil witch who lives in it.
I wish she was dead. Even deader than my mum.
Which makes it hard… because she was the one who came running when I screamed.

Kat Jones is woken at midnight by an intruder looming over her bed. She’s saved by her hated neighbour Edwina – the woman Kat believes betrayed her dying mother.

Kat’s shift-worker dad, Jimmy, issues an ultimatum. Either spend nights at Edwina’s, or accept another intruder in her life – Hercules, the world’s ugliest guard dog. It’s a no-brainer, even for dog-phobic Kat.

When she meets adorkable Al at the dog park, Kat lets down her guard and family secrets tumble out. The prowler turns up the heat, and Kat is forced into an unlikely alliance with her nemesis – finally learning the explosive truth about their shared past.

So, what do you think?

Cover design by Astred Hicks, www.designcherry.com
Cover photograph by Julia Trotti, www.juliatrotti.com

Intruder Alert!

Posted: September 13, 2013 in Events, Writing, YA Fiction
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Big news – my new YA novel Intruder  will be hitting the bookshelves on June 1 next year!

So excited. Not only because hello, I have a new novel coming out!, but because now I get to spend the rest of this year on the heady delights of the edit.

Yes, folks, it’s a guilty pleasure: holing up in my new office with turkish delight, massaging all the kinks out of my manuscript.

For me, the first draft can feel a bit like a marathon, exhausting and endless. But the subsequent drafts, they’re  the well-earned warm-down that stretches and primes me for the challenges ahead.

Finessing characters’ backstories to reveal motivation, ironing out tone, teasing out thematic links…. this is my favourite part of the writing process. And I’ve been fortunate to have had first readers who’ve helped take Intruder to the next level.

Bouquets to uber-librarian Miss Trish Buckley, my wonderful  agent Leonie Tyle, Publisher Zoe Walton and Editor Cristina Briones at Random House Australia for their thought-provoking and incisive comments and questions. You’re helping make Intruder all that it could and should be.

I’ll be flying off to Barcelona tonight with laptop and editing notes under my wing.  Hasta pronto mis amigos! 

Ahem.

Now that I have your attention, the beagle and I have some important news.

For one day only, by special request, on Saturday 15 September, I will be cramming all you ever wanted to know about Writing Young Adult Fiction into a one-day workshop at the Queensland Writers Centre.

It’ll be a fun program, with me and anyone who’s game, bending over a writer’s toolbox, trying not to show our cracks.

Tell your friends – hell, tell anyone with a passion for writing. I’d love to see you there.

Please click HERE if you’d like to find out more. 🙂