Interview with Christine Bongers author by Jill Smith
I’m delighted to present this email interview with Christine Bongers. After having read her debut novel ‘Dust’, which I reviewed in my last post. Shortly I will post a review of ‘Intruder’ which was a brilliant read also, and has been short-listed for the 2015 CBCA Book of the Year for Older Readers. I was glad to be part of the audience earlier this year during her presentation at Somerset Celebration of Literature. I took lots of notes which are on the Notes from Somerset 2015 tab. For more about Christine go to her wordpress site she has a wonderful page there – Twenty things you don’t need to know about me.
I was one of those kids who always had her nose in a book and was always scribbling down stories. When I was still in primary school I remember begging my dad for a rusted old typewriter I found at a farm clearance sale. He refused, but a couple of months later he and Mum gave me a brand new Olivetti for my twelfth birthday and my path in life was set.
2 What books did you read in your youth that inspired you to write?
I devoured everything I could get my hands on. I adored Jack London’s adventure novels White Fang and Call of the Wild, as well as classics like Anne of Green Gables, Heidi, Huckleberry Finn, Jane Eyre, Little Women, Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven books and Mary Grant Bruce’s Billabong series. I dreamed of writing my own Lagoona series based on my adventures with six brothers growing up in the bush – and that was probably the very earliest inspiration for my first novel Dust.
3 Many writers struggle with presenting themselves. Did public speaking come naturally to you? Or, was this something you developed in your radio/television days?I was a chatterbox in primary school and a debater in high school. I worked hard to get rid of the bush twang when I first worked in radio and television presenting came easily to me. These days when I speak in public I always try to share stories from my life and books that I think the audience will enjoy.
4 Do you work closely with an editor? Intruder is written in the first person and that is no mean feat, so easy to slip up but you accomplished this seamlessly, which leads me to the question of editor. (they always manage to see something the writer misses)
5 Do you research for your books? Or do you mostly draw from personal experience?
I do whatever research is needed for authenticity and accuracy in a story. Dust was set in the early 1970s, so I scoured old photograph albums, newspapers and school magazines to help ignite both memory and imagination. I created playlists from 1972-73, made a point of knowing what was on television, in the papers and on the radio, and what makes of cars were on the road. My subsequent novels Henry Hoey Hobson and Intruder were contemporary fiction and didn’t require the same level of research to create authenticity and atmosphere. Both were set around where I live in Brisbane so getting the details right was a breeze!
6 Do you plan, plot out and summarise your books before you write them? I’ve discovered through workshops I’ve attended that some writers plan to the minute degree while others let the story lead them.
8 You said at Somerset that having brothers gave you room to dream. Did they support your goals or tempt you to be challenged?
9 Did you set up your own website and social media platforms? I ask this because again I’ve discovered some writers do everything hands on themselves and others hand it to professionals that provide multiple website, pages and links.