On Monday, I quickly said goodbye to my students at 3pm when the bell rang, gathered my belongings and locked the classroom door. I was a little eager to get to The Book Garden at Toowong to hear Christine Bongers, Tristan Bancks and Belinda Murrell speak about their latest work. But not to appear too keen, I moseyed in at 3.55pm, a respectable entrance for a 4pm start.
Always happy to spot a few familiar faces in the crowd, I love catching up with fellow children’s literature buffs at these events.
Now, back to taking in all the pearls these three authors had to dish up.
I couldn’t wait to hear fellow Brisbane based author Christine Bongers speak after seeing her at previous events. Christine certainly knows how to hold the audience, and it’s easy to see why she captivates her readers whether making them laugh in Drongoes or on a more serious note, frighten them with her latest release Intruder.
Intruder is aimed at readers in upper primary and fits in well with the high school curriculum in grades 8 to 10. Described as being a page turner without being too scary, it sounds just like my kind of book. This seemed all good until Christine told the premise of the book is based on a terrifying real life moment experienced by her own daughter when she woke up one night to find a man standing over her bed. My heart stopped in my chest! Thankfully, Christine’s daughter stood up for herself and the intruder ran off.
This scenario gripped Christine as both a mother and author. Cue Kat Jones, a 14-15 year old girl who faces this very situation, except her mum is dead, her dad works nights and the neighbour she hates is the only person who can help. Wow, I think I’ll bite my fingernails the whole way through!
Find out more about Intruder and Christine’s other novels at her website christinebongers.wordpress.com.
Another favourite author of mine and my students is Tristan Bancks. I had the pleasure of taking Tristan’s workshop at last year’s CYA Conference in Brisbane. He has an uncanny way of tapping into the mindsets of upper primary aged children, nailing their voice and sense of humour in his books Nit Boy and the My Life and Other Stuff series.
Tristan bases his books on something that has either happened to him as a boy or adult and stretches these circumstances with his imagination. He also often throws out crazy scenarios at workshops with kids and brainstorms what happens next. Any school or kids who have had input into his stories, Tristan thanks in his books. I think that would make kids feel really chuffed!
His newest work, Two Wolves deviates from his usual comedic, witty writing style and delves into more serious territory taking five years to complete. Using Scrivener and writing several unplanned drafts, Two Wolves took a lot longer for Tristan to piece together, but overall he was able to achieve a raw novel.
That raw edge certainly grips the story’s main protagonist Ben Silver, nicknamed ‘Cop’ by his dad, who suddenly finds his life is speedily packed up after a visit from the police. Ben realises his family is on the run, and as a burgeoning detective he solves the mystery of what his parents have done. His only question is what does he do with this information. To tell or not to tell? Another book I think I’ll have trouble putting down.
For more information on Tristan’s work, visit his website tristanbancks.com.
What a pleasure for me to both meet and hear from Belinda for the first time. With 21 books under her belt, I couldn’t wait to soak up all Belinda had to say. Undoubtedly, Belinda loves children’s literature and I think she could talk endlessly about writing for children.
Well, it’s no wonder Belinda became a writer, considering her family’s writing pedigree. Belinda is a sixth generation writer, hailing back to her great, great, great, great Grandfather who wrote a non-fiction book on the colony of New South Wales. Not in the least to be outdone by her great, great, great, great Grandmother who wrote the first children's book published in Australia. Seriously, her siblings are also well-known authors, Kate Forsyth and Nick Humphrey. That’s what I call a literature family tree!
Excitingly, Belinda has three books coming out. The Sequin Star is the next novel in her timeslip series, which follows Claire who finds herself stranded and working for the Sterling Brothers Circus during the Great Depression of 1932. But one day, her circus friend Kit, is kidnapped.
Belinda also has two more books released in the ever popular Junior Fiction Lulu Bell series, namely Lulu Bell and The Tiger Cub and Lulu Bell and the Pyjama Party. The Lulu Bell series is close to home for Belinda, whose father is a vet and she spent her childhood surrounded by animals. This lead to Belinda creating the lovable eight year old Lulu Bell who grows up in a vet hospital and follows her adventures with friends, family and, of course, animals.
Check out Belinda’s website, belindamurrell.com.au to find out more about the other novels in her series.
This writing outing was definitely worth going to see these three incredible authors talk about their work. My reading pile, well after this, grew a lot bigger! Hope you enjoy reading these authors and their new titles as well.