FAQ about Invincible: Why did you turn Liam into a baddy?
Spoiler alert: If you haven't read Invincible yet and you don't want even more of a spoiler than you've gotten already, stop reading. Hum. Close your ears and eyes. And go buy your own copy of Invincible so you can read it. Then come back here and read this blog post. Because I can guarantee that you'll be asking the same question once you're done.
Okay. They've gone.
Whew. We can get on with the post.
SO. Why did I turn Liam into a baddy? When we left Jazmine at the end of Invisible, she was happy with Liam, who'd been her knight in shining armour, riding in to rescue her from evil Shalini, and going to talk to Miss Fraser to get her back into the play.
"Yay," we all said. "What a perfect boy."
And then I got a letter from a reader.
"The only thing wrong with it is Liam. He's too perfect. I've never met a boy like that. The boys I've met aren't nearly as good."
She's right, I thought to myself, not trying to be mean to boys in general, but it is pretty rare to find a Year 8 or 9 boy who's that charming, that principled, that loyal. That perfect, basically.
Unless.... and here I started to think about what I know about partner violence and abuse. Charm, manipulation and rescuing are very common behaviours by boys and men who in the end turn out to be abusers, whether they actually engage in violence, or confine themselves to verbal and emotional abuse. Which is still pretty destructive, let me tell you. If you meet someone who seems too good to be true, too charming, too gorgeous, too protective, watch out. You could be heading into a relationship which is going to do you damage.
Given that domestic violence and violence in relationships affects just under Half a Million women in Australia every year, and that globally 1 in 3 women will be abused in a relationship sometime during their life (sadly, it tends to be largely men abusing women) I figured that this was an issue.
Women I know have been stuck in marriages or long term partnershipswhich have been abusive. Girls I know have had boyfriends who've been unkind emotionally and sexually abusive. One of the most harrowing things I've done was take a young woman to the police station to support her as she made a statement about how her boyfriend beat her up in the bathroom one night. Domestic abuse is not a pretty picture. And women and girls stay because they are often too frightened to leave.
It breaks my heart. It really does. So I decided that I would get it into the story. And basically, Invincible is about Jazmine realising she's uncomfortable in this relationship and finding the courage (through her dreams and with the help of her grandma) to leave.
Is the story line too old for a young teen book? I don't think so. This week I heard of a fourteen year old who was in a relationship with a really skeevy guy who made her feel like rubbish. She didn't know what to look out for and she didn't realise what was going on. By the time she got out, he'd already done damage and she was left to pick up the broken pieces.
I want young girls to see the potential for problems and find a way out of them before they get too hurt. So no, it's not too old a topic.
Girls and ladies, if you're in a relationship with any of the signs or symptoms in this link, please get help. (One of the major signs is if you feel afraid of your partner or uncomfortable with something he wants you to do.) You can talk to a trusted friend or mentor or go to a government service for women. Get yourself out of it as soon as you can, like Jazmine did.