Posts Tagged ‘Chris Bongers’

Writing books is like having children. You go into it in ignorance, make a lot of mistakes, and marvel when each turns out so beautiful in its own way.

But oh my giddy aunt, they are so so different, sometimes it’s hard to believe that they all share the same blood.

My first-born, Dust, was all sweat and tears. Delivered after an excruciating elephantine labour dogged by every conceivable complication.

When I finally held it in my hands I marveled that such a small package could have caused such anguish and such joy.

Twelve months later, I welcomed Henry Hoey Hobson into the world. The unplanned second-born. My little surprise.

Perhaps because he arrived unannounced to an uncertain reception, he was different from the word go. His story came out with so little prompting, it was as though he had been here before, an old soul who had come into the world fully formed.

He slipped out so naturally, so sweet and so true, that I wondered if he would forever spoil me for the next…

I hope not, because I’m currently tussling with my third in three years.

This time round, I’ve found it harder to juggle three balls at once. There’s always one ball in the air, and of late it seems to have been Intruder, the work-in-progress.

Dust has made it into high schools, and Henry Hoey Hobson into middle school, so there’s been a flurry of activity on the schools and promotion front.

But now that I’ve finished my last public appearance for the year, I have finally been able to put those two balls to the side.

I’m back in the dacks of track, centring myself at the keyboard.

Picking up that third ball and running with it. A thousand words a day until it’s done.

This year’s  Book Week theme takes us Across the Story Bridge, (and yes I did conquer that demon fear of heights, after a communal neck rub and surprise de-lousing, courtesy of the naughty John Danalis).

Greg Rogers, pictured here working the kinks out of Narelle Oliver, went on to win Picture Book of the Year for The Hero of Little Street. Narelle’s Fox and Fine Feathers was an Honour Book in the same category.  For a complete list of CBCA Book of the Year Awards, click here.

The good folk from Story Bridge Adventure Climbs got us up and down without a mis-step. My monster fear of heights shrank back down to a pathetic little bogey that dogged me slightly on the see-through stairs, then disappeared completely when I stood at the top.

I could see to Stradbroke Island, I was higher than the city sky scrapers, I was Top of the World, Ma! Next time, I’m doing it at night. 😉

CBCA Book Week: Across the Story Bridge

Writers love the aha moment, the shriek of eureka, the epiphany-producing breakthrough, the gravity of the apocryphal apple falling on one’s head.

The exquisite flash of revelation and insight afforded by a creative leap, the illumination of a new connection that is so bright and shiny and real that it has the power to bridge a divide and pull your protagonist through.

It can bubble up like a what-about-a-water-bottle in the bath, shock you into wakefulness at three in the morning, spring fully formed into your mind on a run or while pushing a trolley down an aisle.

But it can not and does not come out of the blue. The flash of creative inspiration is not randomly bestowed by a capricious muse.

It is the result of the thousands of hours of deliberate practice that you devote to your calling. Not just the writing, but the related pursuits of reading, day-dreaming and thinking critically about your work.

Melina Marchetta says she listens to her characters, sometimes for months, before putting pen to paper. Markus Zusak says that it’s hard to believe that when he spends half the day staring into space, he’s actually working. Kate Morton calls it the ‘cauldron’ phase – when you are working, but not actually writing.

The headlong rush to publish makes some writers afraid to marinate their work and let the ingredients meld and simmer in the creative juices.

Don’t be afraid.

Prepare your mind. Research and read widely, visit a gallery, listen to music, stare at the stars, and trust the unconscious to do its job. Make those new connections. You might be surprised at what bubbles to the surface.

‘Chance favours the prepared mind’ Louis Pasteur

It is said that the jaws of writers run red from cannibalising the lives around them. Having supped, long and deep, on a vein of my own experience, I hunger for the smorgasbord offered by the lives of others.

Don’t worry, if you see me staring at you strangely, in a queue at the deli, or listening in on your chatter, from an adjoining table in the mall. I promise not to devour your life, not all of it anyway. I’ll just chew on tender morsels, savouring the tastes and textures of a life that is not my own.

You are safe out there in the messy space of reality. But don’t ever try to follow me home, into the realm of fiction, where story is king.

In my lair I suck secrets from marrow, pluck out hearts’ desires, stoke the blackest of fears. I will take that tender morsel that was once some part of you and make it forever mine. I might serve it up fresh and raw, or marinate it in creative juices, turning it constantly and slow-cooking it until so tender you won’t even notice the meat fall away from your bones…

So beware when you see me and others of my kind. When our eye falls on you, it will sear the flesh, sealing in juices and creating tender morsels on which others may feast.  Killer stories that make the juices flow.

[Editor’s note: Christine Bongers is now officially back into writing her crime novel The Lonely Dead. If the school holidays had gone one day longer, her children may not have survived.]