A few novellas appeared after Music Man, the best of which was The Great Aussie Sportsman, written in 1989, and about 30,100 words. Humour, about a violent Australian teenager who becomes the Hero to thousands. It still reads rather well, and I have tried to convert it to a screenplay, but have failed. Dismally.
So, anyway, next novel, from 1992 and the end of my initial university studies. Invisible Friend clocked in at 62,300 words. Again, a horror story, but actually written with the teenaged market in mind, though the ending apparently does not suit the teenage publishing mindset.
As a child, baby Rebecca’s older sister is jealous because Rebecca has ‘stolen’ her invisible friend. The older sister is subsequently killed, then the mother, leaving Rebecca and her father alone. But Rebecca’s invisible friend is still around, and he starts to take over and dominate the teenager’s life.
That’s it in a nutshell. Yes, there are a few clichés in it, and the fight scenes seem rather repetitive, and at least one “issue” Rebecca has which the invisible friend helps with hardly seems that important, and I would probably up the ante there a bit. Also the character of Rebecca is too varying. Mind you, the character of her father I think has been written okay, while the invisible friend himself comes across as consistently nasty, although trying to help Rebecca get a boyfriend goes against some of his obvious desires.
So, it’s a teenager novel, written by a guy barely out of being a teenager himself. Yeah, that’s never a good recommendation.
Jenny phoned Rebecca the following morning. The blonde, still in her night-shirt, expected an apology, but instead received a brief piece of news which shocked her… and angered her: Neil had gone to hospital the previous night to have his arm looked at. They thought that the forearm had been broken when he had fallen down the back stairs of Jenny’s house the previous night, although the doctors eventually told him that he would be all right, it was merely a sprain. But what really struck Rebecca’s mind was that Jenny said he thought he had been pushed. “Pushed?” Rebecca asked.
“Yeah. He said it felt like two hands just shoved him in the middle of the back. He almost landed right on top of me, but he turned in the air, sort of like a cat, and missed me by an inch,” Jenny explained. Then, “Look, I’ve got to go. Neil’s expecting me.”
“Give him my best,” Rebecca said, still in a state of shock, “and get him to give me a call.”
“Sure,” Jenny replied almost sarcastically and hung up.
“Did you do that?” she asked the air, her voice hissing and angry.
He’s fine. He just had to be taught a lesson. The response was almost immediate.
“Leave him alone,” she growled.
I didn’t really hurt him. He would’ve been fine if he hadn’t twisted out of the way of that girl…
“She’s my friend…”
The way she’s been treating you lately, I’m surprised you’re even defending her. The voice was confident and superior.
“So? We’ve had fights before…”
But ever like this? Over a boy who’s with her, but who likes you as well? He’s a fool; he should just accept what he has and leave you alone. But he wants both of you…
“Wants me? But how…?”
Oh, I know lots of things, the voice laughed, and she felt a hand stroke her back, down, then up, before coming to rest on her shoulder. The unseen hand kneaded the muscle there before fading. Rebecca let out a relaxed sigh. Like what Jenny had to tell Neil last night that was so important, and how much it’s trapped him. And I know how you feel about him, how he feels about you, and how Jenny feels about everything.
“Oh, she’ll get over it.” But she did not sound as convinced as she had before.
Not this time, not until she’s sure she has got Neil and you never will. Maybe even turn him against you. After all, didn’t he leave here last night without even really saying good-bye? And who told you about his accident? Him? But that’s all right…
You don’t need him. Pause. Not when you have me.
“But I want him.” Her eyes went misty. “Oh, yeah,” she continued dreamily. “I really want him.”
I know you do… There was a touch of anger in that voice.
Rebecca thought she understood the tone. “I don’t want him enough to see Jenny hurt.” Silence. “Nicky?” No response. “Nicky?!” Panic gripped her as there was still no answer. “Come on, Nicky! Talk to me!” She ran from room to room, calling his name. “Nicky! Nicky! Don’t leave me! Talk to me! I need you!” She fell to her knees, “Nicky! Leave them alone! Nicky! I want you here! Answer me!” Her body started to tremble uncontrollably and she ran quickly to the toilet where she threw up…