From Hook to Book


Chris Bell’s debut adult historical novel “The Swing Tree” will be published by Impact Press through Simon and Schuster – March 2020.

Currently Chris is working on her second adult historical novel, this one set in France in the aftermath of the Great War. One of the most exciting aspects of this project, and being an historical fiction author, is the research. The idea for this new novel germinated with a question Chris asked during a tour of a cemetery on the Somme battlefields while researching The Swing Tree. Revealing that question would give away the premise of the novel too early. For now, she is much excited about her developing story world and an intended return to France to research local archival material, walk the ground of her setting, and explore French attitudes of the day towards both the fictional and one of the real life characters in her story. She is not complaining that the trip will entail time spent in Paris too. Strictly for research, of course.

Chris Bell has written 35 published short fiction books for children, including picture story, chapter and YA. Her junior eco novel manuscript Strange Creatures received a Highly Commended in the 2016 CYA Writing and Illustrating Competition – published author prize. In 2014 Chris was awarded a Varuna Retreat Fellowship to work on Prison Boya YA historical novel set in convict Van Diemen’s Land. Chris’s contemporary YA novel Jumping Through Hoops won the 2011 CYA Writing  and Illustrating Competition – published author prize and was long-listed in the international 2012 Mslexia Writing for Children Competition. Her adult short stories have been published in anthologies and shortlisted in competitions. Chris holds a Master of Creative Writing and a Diploma of Arts – Professional Writing and Editing. She served as the Assistant Coordinator of SCBWI Vic (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) for five years from 2014 – 2018 and as a CYA Writing and Illustrating Competition judge through 2014/15/16/17.

MEMBER: Writers Victoria | Australian Society of Authors (ASA) | Historical Novel Society | Historical Novel Society Australasia (HNSA) | Varuna Alumni | Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) | CBCA | Young & Jackson Writing Group | LLLCD Writers’ Group.



7 thoughts on “About

  1. Billy Mollon on said:

    Hi Christine , I have distant Scotish relations who lived at Hamilton Palace Colliery at Bothwellhaugh and recently I found a photo of one of them during a google search and it said she was the last woman coal sorter at the colliery . I am not sure which of 4 sisters it was but her surname was Mollon .
    Regards Billy .

    • Hi Billy
      Lovely to connect to someone who also had relations who lived at the “Pailis”. My fascination emerged in 2008 after a visit to Wonthaggi State Coal Mine where my great-grandfather and family emigrated to from Bothwellhaugh in 1912-13. Further research on the village fuelled an idea I had for a novel and I did a lot of research to learn more of Hamilton Palace Colliery as an early setting in my story.
      The double bonus for me was learning so much about my family’s history and early years.
      Best wishes,

      • Marion on said:

        Hi Christine,

        I found this extremely interesting as my late mother was born and brought up in the “Pailis” in 1927. My grandfather and most of his sons would have worked down the pits. My grandparents had a family of fourteen and my mother was the second youngest. I briefly remember visiting my grandparent’s house in the village when I was a “wean” before it was demolished and they were re-housed in Bellshill in North Lanarkshire.

        The BBC recently broadcast a short film called “The Lost Village of Bothwellhaugh” which shows family life in the village, filmed on an 8mm reel by one of the actual residents in the 1960’s.

        After watching this film I started looking for information about Bothwellhaugh hence this reply.

        Kind Regards,
        Marion McAvoy.

  2. Hi Marion

    Lovely to see you here and learn of your grandparents’ family living in the “Pailis”. Wow! the village houses were pretty small to accommodate fourteen children, though I know they could fit quite a few in a room, not to mention per bed.

    I have the DVD of The Drowned Village, courtesy of Tom Eadie, a former resident of Bothwellhaugh and a wonderful help to me in my research for my novel.

    When I visited Scotland in 2010, I found lots of helpful information, newspaper articles and references at the Motherwell Heritage Centre and also through speaking with one of the rangers at Strathfield Country Park.

    Bothwellhaugh’s history fascinated me and I have loved researching and writing about the place and time (early 1900s) when my great-parents and uncles lived and worked in the Hamilton Palace Colliery.

    Thank you so much for leaving your comment. It’s wonderful how history connects us.

    Best wishes,

  3. Hi Chris, what is your book about bothwellhaugh called?
    Also, I am researching about someone called Stewart Thomson who was the colliery cashier for a long time, do you know anything about him?

    • Hi Ziggy

      Great to see you at From Hook to Book.

      My novel is not published as yet. I’m waiting to get back to it after a break of 12 months writing another book. I want to do a little rewriting before I submit it for publication.

      I found some information on Stewart Thomson in a booklet titled Bothwellhaugh: A Lanarkshire mining community, 1884-1965. It was on the internet at one time, but, sadly, the website is no longer in existence. You may be able to purchase a copy through The Motherwell Heritage Centre, a fantastic resource for all things Bothwellhaugh. If you would like to contact me by email chris+@chrisbell+com+au, (just take out the + signs and replace the last two with . i.e. or visit contact page) I can send you some extracts. Was Stewart Thomson a relative?

      Look forward to hearing from you.

      Best wishes,

      • Thank you but I already have the book. I will try the website. Stewart was my Great-Great-Great-Granddad
        Thank, Ziggy

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