"Some of the best books can open our minds to those we may view as threats because they are unknown..... This is one of those." - The Australian, June, 4, 2011.
Now the first thing that I should say is that PigBoy is not about a half human half pig. It was the title I gave the book while I was working on it and it just seemed to stick and it felt right. Titles are tricky!
So briefly, Damon Styles is unlikable, fat and a loner who just can’t seem to fit in anywhere. He lives in the small town of Strathven with his mother who is also fat and lonely. Often, Damon has been the brunt of jokes and bullying in the town. Because of his size and name, the kids at school love to do what they call ‘the squeal’ when he walks past – ‘Damoink oink oink oink!’ Because of what happened at the year 10 camp, the whole town now seems to have their eyes on Damon. But Damon thinks he still has the support from Strathvan High’s Principal, Mr Pascoe. So it comes as a huge shock when in year 12 on Damon’s 18th birthday he is asked to leave the school. Due to a series of incidents they do not want Damon on the campus anymore.
But Damon’s life is about to change forever because when he storms out of the school and makes his way home through the bush track, he runs into a nasty scene. Damon witnesses something he isn’t meant to see and worse than that, he takes something home that he’s not meant to and locks it in his cupboard.
Damon decides he needs to get a job with the town’s professional hunter. A man simply known as the PigMan. A Bosnian-Serb who like Damon, can’t seem to fit in anywhere.
Ned Kelly Award for Best Crime Fiction, 2012
Long Listed for Gold Inky Award, 2011
Long Listed for Davitt Award, 2012
CBCA Notable Book for Older Readers, 2012
White Ravens 2012 Outstanding International Books
"I haven't been this impressed with a main character in quite some time. Damon isn't a nice, polite boy... but he's not just all rage either. He's a complicated character, and you can't help but feel for Damon... but it's not just Damon who shines in Pig Boy - all of the characters are fascinating, and work together to build a claustrophobic world that produces a young man like Damon, from his misguided mother to the school principal who's had enough, and especially Miro the Pigman who takes the struggling Damon under his wing. JC Burke has created an absolutely unforgettable cast of characters." - Holly Harper for "Readings"
"There were moments reading Pig Boy that I could barely breathe, such was the tension. There were moments when I was put in mind of Robert Cormier, as the reading journey grew darker. There was never a moment when I wanted to put down this taut story about small town perceptions and prejudices... JC Burke is at her best writing challenging, thought-provoking novels for older readers." - 'Slightly Addicted to Fiction' Weblog
"Burke transforms what looks like a bullied in school story to a tension stayed thriller that asks bigger questions about the nature of violence and revenge." - Ernie Tucker, Choices for English: Books, Films & Other Texts that work.
"Burke portrays an uncomfortable and confronting reality in this novel which is particularly recommended for teens boys." - The Age, July 10, 2011.
"J.C. Burke cleverly entices her reader to make ready judgments which are then slowly deconstructed in this well crafted, well paced, cleverly written story." - Reading Time, Vol 55, No 3.
"This is a complex story which I would highly recommend for teenage boys." - The Fringe Magazine.
Here are some snapshots of my workbook in no particular order. It will give some insights into the process. My planning for PigBoy almost took longer than the actual writing of the book. Therefore showing some of the planning pages is the best way to explain the process.