JAMBIN-RAISED author Christine Bongers can certainly turn a phrase, but she has surprisingly compared her new novel, Henry Hoey Hobson, to a dog.
“The idea for Henry Hoey Hobson (HHH for short) snuck in under my guard in March 2009 while I was working on my adult crime novel and waiting for my novel Dust to come out,” Bongers said.
“The more I tried to push it away, the more it hounded me.”
“It was like a half-starved pup, all eyes and ribs.
“Sad history, but heaps of potential, you know?
“Could be really beautiful if someone gave it a chance.
“The story kept sniffing round me, pressing its wet nose through the gaps in my defences. It didn't care that I was otherwise committed; it just wanted to be let in and given a chance.”
Her second novel is about 12-year-old Henry Hoey Hobson arriving at his sixth school, Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, to discover he's the only boy in Year 7.
Bongers said HHH was a funny but moving story about friendship, family and acceptance, and a kid who doesn't fit in.
“He's a loser you'll cheer for until your tonsils hang out on strings,” she said.
“It's for anyone over the age of 10 who likes a laugh, anyone who ever missed out on the A-team, anyone who'd like to be accepted simply for being him or herself – and in my book, that would be just about all of us, wouldn't it?
“Like my first novel Dust, it was inspired by different elements of my own life – the little Catholic school at the end of my street, lovely talented friends who are goths, and the neighbourhood swim club.
“The story came together as a three-way collision between groups with seemingly nothing in common, and a boy who doesn't fit in.”
“While this novel is set in contemporary inner-city Brisbane where I now live, there is a nod to 1970s Biloela in my portrayal of the resident pool Nazi, Ma Mallory.
“I couldn't resist using a name from the past, particularly as the original Pa Mallory coached an entire generation of swimmers in Biloela.”
Bongers grew up with six brothers on a farm near Jambin and moved to Brisbane to attend university. She worked in journalism and public relations before becoming an author.
The book is available at the Jambin Shop, Angus and Robertson in City Centre Plaza in Rockhampton and as an e-book from Random House Australia.