Interview: Rosie Borella, author of The One and Only Jack Chant


I reviewed the lovely The One and Only Jack Chant at my own blog, The Loony Teen Writer. You can read my review here.

Here’s the beautiful cover:

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Sixteen-year-old Amber never expected to find romance while working in an old people’s home…but then Jack Chant is not what she expected either. He’s young, exciting and enigmatic – and deeply troubled by something that happened in his past, something he can’t quite remember. Gradually Amber suspects that Jack’s past might be a whole lot further back in time than he realises. Is he solid flesh and blood, or just some kind of dreamy fantasy?

A sweetly romantic coming-of-age story in which Amber learns more than most teens about getting old, falling in love and letting go.

On with the interview!

1) Do you believe in ghosts?

There is something inside me that really, really wants to believe in ghosts – but I haven’t seen one yet. And I’m one of those people that needs to be convinced – I have to see things with my own eyes, or experience things, somehow. I am just like the main character, Amber, in that I do, really, want to see a ghost – but maybe if there was one there, right now, I’d be a bit frightened to peek down that corridor, or open that door and go through it. Terrified to death, actually. It took me a long, long time to grow out of being scared of the dark. I can still talk myself into being a bit frightened very easily.

2) While Jack Chant features prominently in this book (of course!), Amber’s story is the most important. Who came first in the writing process, Jack or Amber?

Amber definitely came first. There is a lot of me in Amber, stumbling around in situations, trying to figure things out, and thinking myself a bit slow to do that at times. I looked inside myself a lot to unearth some of Amber’s feelings. For example, I vividly remember not being able to figure out what I wanted to do when I left school, and drifted into nursing just because some friends were doing it. (As soon as I finished nursing, I retrained and started working as a journalist.) I was also a bit shy, a naïve kind of country kid. Jack started out as no more than a device, but he barged into the story quite boldly. He was a device in that I wanted somebody who stood outside the society somewhat, who could ask the question (I hope in a subtle way): Is this how you treat your old people? Really? He could have been from another kind of social structure – he could have been indigenous, from another country or even from another world. In the end, he was from somewhere different again.

3) A lot of this story is set in a nursing home, where Amber works. Was there a particular reason you chose this setting?

In real life I’d done ‘nursing bootcamp’ to go back into nursing, after working for years in journalism, public relations, and marketing. I had just started working in nursing homes again, thinking I might be able to make a difference – make them into better places. It struck me that it would be a good idea to ‘write what you know’. Just about every time I went to work, things would happen that struck me as being unusual or profound, or funny or sad. It became a bit of a challenge to see if I could work some of those ideas and situations into a book that that somebody might want to read.

4) There are elements of different genres in this novel. What’s your favourite genre to write in?

My favourite genre is gritty, end-of-the-world science fiction. I love dystopias. I love Philip K. Dick’s short stories and novels such as Feed, the Divergent series, and Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking trilogy. My first novel called ‘Whisperland’ is a dystopia, set in the near future, and it’s sitting in the bottom drawer. The One and Only Jack Chant is the second novel I wrote, and what I loved about that was the challenge of taking reality, and tweaking it, and trying to make the fantasy seem believable.

5) What’s next in terms of writing for you?

I’m working on two things – a new dystopia, and a story about a young girl called Caitlin, who is in the unfortunate situation of being in love with her best friend’s boyfriend.

6) Do you have any advice for Aussie writers?

It’s a tough time to get published at the moment – the traditional way – but the flip side is the explosion of digital media, and all the opportunities that brings. I’m still in favour of going through the rigorous writer ‘apprenticeship’ you get with publishers and editors, but there are now many more ways to get your words out there, learn things and improve your writing – by blogging, joining online forums, forming your own online writing group, writing for digital media, entering online competitions, reading blogs by well-known writers, and so on – there are possibilities everywhere.

Thanks for stopping by today, Rosie! Love those answers 🙂

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Rosie Borella has been crazy about two things ever since she can remember – riding horses and writing. A few years ago, she left behind a working life that had always involved writing – as a journalist, sub-editor and editor, and in public relations, science writing and marketing. She went back to nursing part time, so she could spend her free time writing what she really wanted – fiction. Her story ‘Eternity’ in the Tales from the Tower collection has garnered rave reviews. The One and Only Jack Chant is her first novel.
Rosie lives on a farmlet on the Bellarine Peninsula in Victoria. She writes from a room at the back of the house that looks into an overgrown garden. Being inside her writing room feels like being inside the Tardis. An escape hatch would make it just perfect.
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This review brought to you by Emily Mead, aka The Loony Teen Writer, who is reading more Aussie books this year and loving it. 

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