The stories behind Invisible
The 'real' Jazmine
I find it easier to base my characters on people I actually know, at least at the beginning. They often change as the story goes on, but it helps me to picture them in my head if I know what they look like.
The idea for Jazmine came from Mollie, who was telling me one day that she just loved drama. I was surprised because she seemed so shy in public but her mum said it was true - she comes alive on the stage. It got me thinking about someone who was withdrawn in normal life yet who found her voice in performance and Jazmine came into being.
Why is Jazmine deaf? Two reasons. First, she needed to have something 'extra' which set her apart from most people, something that she really had to work at to get over. Second, I needed a reason for her to not ever hear the real reason her dad died around the funeral time. Losing her hearing aid seemed perfect.
The 'real' Gabby
Originally I wrote Invisible without the Gabby character, but it seemed like Jazmine needed a friend who was a girl as well as having a crush on Liam, so I brought in Gabby, who is based on, well, Gabby.
The real Gabby is not quite as bouncy and loud as the story Gabby, but she does have the same enthusiasm for life, and she's probably been the person who's been most enthusiastic about Invisible as a book, so it seemed only fair to write her in.
The real Gabby loves books, is great at tennis, plays goal shooter in netball and has lived in only two places during her life, not the 12 or so that story Gabby has. And I have no idea if she likes baboons!
Erin and the twins, Caitlin and Olivia
Yes, Caitlin and Olivia are real as well, and just like Jazmine, I can never tell them apart either. One of them has shorter hair than the other, and one has a scar on her face, but the problem is that I just can't remember which one! Erin is also based on a real person. She and the twins and Gabby were in my Year 6 writing classes in the year I wrote the book.
Why I picked the Secret Garden
Once I worked out what the character of Jazmine was going to go through, it sounded to me kind of like a modern, changed up version of one of my favourite books, the Secret Garden. I like references to other books. It grounds new stories to see them through the lens of old stories and maybe it might make some readers curious to go back and read the older classics. Plus I liked the theme of growth, shown through the planting and weeding and growing of the flowers.