The other day, I published another short story on Smashwords, Invisible Boy. Invisible Boy is a side story to my YA fantasy novel, Spider Circus, and unlike a lot of my short stories, it didn’t come out of nowhere. Spider Circus follows Lizzie and her adventures in the circus, but I realised while I was writing it that there was a lot going on at home, with the family she’d left behind.
Lizzie’s family shapes a lot of how she is as a character. Her parents had divorced a year before the story started, and she isn’t dealing with it well. She also has two little brothers, seven-year-old twins Jake and Benjy. Jake was always the one I’d been more interested in writing.
Jake was quieter than Benjy, far more introspective. I realised as I wrote Spider Circus that he’d been just as hurt as Lizzie by his parent’s divorce – but, unlike Lizzie, he’d kept it to himself. While Benjy had acted out for a while, Jake had pushed his feelings down, only letting them out occasionally. If Jake felt like this after his parents divorced, then the same would be true after his sister disappeared, only much, much worse.
I wanted to fill in some of the gaps left in the story, away from the magic and world-hopping of Spider Circus, back in an ordinary world. There’s no magic in Invisible Boy, no matter how hard Jake wishes there could be. Spider Circus is the story of a traveller, but Invisible Boy deals with those left behind.
Fantasy stories usually deal with adventure, but sometimes the absence of adventure can be a story in itself. There’s bravery and fear and pain in fighting a dragon or travelling between worlds, but also in surviving, day to day, while waiting for someone to come back. I wanted to write about the strength and the weakness that comes with living through an impossible situation.
Most of all, though, I wanted to find out more about Jake. Even though he barely appears in Spider Circus, he was a character that I’d fallen in love with, and I wanted to spend some more time in his world. I hope you all enjoy reading it.
Spider Circus is available from Amazon and Smashwords. Ally’s webcomic, co-created with and illustrated by Emily Brady, can be found at Footloose. Ally’s rants and writing updates are available on Twitter and Facebook.