I thought it was about time I wrote a blog about Spider Circus, so here goes.
The story that begins in Spider Circus has been brewing for a long time, like a particularly lethal cup of tea. When I was fourteen, after filling my head with the collected works of Philip Pullman and Tamora Pierce, I started writing a book called The Shadows. This book was going to be the first in a fantasy trilogy about three teenagers who travel between parallel worlds, fighting a world full of scary, shadowy people who are trying to gain control of the multiverse. It was all right, as these things go, but it had a lot of problems that usually crop up in your First Real Novel (the most obvious one being that Li, the main character, was really just an idealised version of myself).
Several rewrites later, The Shadows was better than ‘all right’, and aged twenty (I’m nothing if not stubborn when it comes to my writing) I was in discussion with a publisher. They eventually decided against it, based on the fact that it was too obviously part of a series, rather than being a self-contained story.
Several MORE rewrites later, along with many, many rejections from other publishers and agents, I decided to put The Shadows aside for a while and write a completely different story. It was going to be about a girl who ran away and joined the circus, and all the weird and wonderful people she met while she was there.
Sometimes, I can be very slow on the uptake, even when it comes to things that come right out of my own head. (In fact, ESPECIALLY when it comes to things that come right out of my own head). I didn’t catch on when the circus started moving from world to world. It wasn’t until the Shadows turned up that I realised that Spider Circus was part of the same story.
Once I’d realised that, everything fell into place. Damien (who turns up in The Shadows, a little older and much more confident) found his way into the narrative, and quickly became a best friend to Lizzie. I started putting in a little more about dimensionals, people who can travel between worlds, and who play a significant role in the series as it continues. And I started placing a few more hints about the Shadows themselves – who they are, where they come from, what they really want.
Writing Spider Circus helped me work out a lot more about the series as it’s going to develop (The Shadows will now be either the second or the third book, depending on whether or not Damien lets me write about him). The best part of it, though, has been writing about Lizzie. Lizzie has been one of those characters who grabbed me by the scruff of my neck and made sure that I sat down and wrote her story. I can’t cover everything I love about her in this blog post – so she’ll be getting one of her own.