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Can Jack beat Rocket Robson in the cross-country this year? If only! But his best mate Eric might be the real winner in this race...

From tall tales to spooky stories and everything in between, Mates are all-Australian stories for Aussie kids. With colour illustrations on every page!

Christine Bongers

Where were you born?

Biloela, Central Queensland.

Where do you live now?
Brisbane, Queensland

Where did you go to school?
Jambin State School, Biloela State High

Did you have a nickname?
My six brothers called me Sisless (because I had no sisters) or Sis for short.

What were you like in school?
Noisy and naughty. My saving grace was that I always had my nose in a book.

What is the naughtiest thing you did?
Oh dear, so many diabolical incidents from which to choose ... maybe crashing Dad’s Mini Moke into a ditch in primary school (and not telling him till years after I left home)?

What was your favourite book growing up?
Definitely too many brilliant books (and comics!) from which to choose ... though Jane Eyre had a huge impact on me as a child and I still reread it every decade or so. I’ve always liked to believe that intelligence and hard work can get a girl anywhere in this life.

Who is your favourite children’s author?
Dr Seuss, Roald Dahl and for teens, Melina Marchetta and Markus Zusak. 

What is your favourite food/colour/movie?
Turkish Delight/Purple/The Princess Bride

Who inspired you to write?
I’ve written all my life — as a kid, for fun, then as a journalist, for a living. But it was my Dad who inspired me to write fiction as a grown-up. He once told me ‘You don’t want to die without doing what you were meant to do, without being what you were meant to be.’

I’d always dreamed of writing the sorts of books I loved reading as a kid, but I was afraid I wasn’t good enough. After Dad died, I decided I owed it to him to give it my best shot. I didn’t want to die wondering. So I started writing fiction ... and haven’t stopped yet. 

How did you get started?
I think all writing grows out of the love of reading. All writers were readers first.

How old were you?
Mum and Dad bought me my first typewriter (an outrageous expense back then) for my twelfth birthday. Made my wildest dreams come true.

Why did you want to be a writer?
I loved stories, reading them, telling them, getting lost in them.

How do you think up ideas?

I’m often inspired by some sliver of real life e.g. a kid’s race that made me cry inspired Drongoes. But real life is often too messy, haphazard and pointless if we stick to the facts. Fiction gives us a chance to revisit our experiences and create something new and perfectly formed — a story that others can enjoy.

Do you have a special place where you write?
I wrote my first two books at a desk in the corner of the dining room. Now I have office which I share with the beagle.

What is the best thing about being a writer?
The freedom to create worlds of my own, peopled with characters that I care about.

Have you had any funny or embarrassing moments as a writer?
I get very caught up in my stories when I’m writing and pay little attention to real life. More than once friends have caught me wearing different coloured shoes or with my shirt on inside-out! 

What do you do when you are not writing?
I do a lot of school visits, writing festivals, workshops, etc. And when I’m not doing that, I try to catch up with real life — friends, family, exercise, books, movies — all the usual things!

What would you have chosen to be if you were not a writer?
I would have liked to have been an actor. I think that writing and acting a very alike — it’s all about getting inside the skin of your character.

Which famous person from the past would you like to talk to?
Leonardo da Vinci — though he was a man so many centuries ahead of his time, I sometimes wonder if he has spoken to fans from the future before!

Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself?

I’m a writer, I make stuff up!

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