I'm starting to get a good collection of questions from people now, and I look forward to answering them on this blog. For now, here is the second excellent question from Abigail Patrick.
How long was Aaron actually missing for and how much of a fallout was there? Like at the end of the book he and Julia are bffs but aren't people like "maybe you shouldn't hang around with the girl you disappeared with"?
So first of all I'm going to answer a question that wasn't really asked...
Time in Breveny Vs Time in Aaron's World.
Okay so there's a big question here about time in Breveny vs time in Aaron's world, and whether it happens at the same rate. It's something I gave a lot of thought to at the time, mainly because I'm a big fan of "The Chronicles of Narnia":
“If you spend a hundred years in Narnia, you would still come back to our world at the very same hour of the very same day on which you left. And then, if you went back to Narnia after spending a week here, you might find that a thousand Narnian years had passed, or only a day, or no time at all. You never know till you get there.” - The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - C.S. Lewis
It's beautiful and magical and really convenient for the author. The kids can spend as long as they like in the magical world and can just pop back to their own world as if nothing had happened. It works for Narnia because all of the action takes place in the magical world, but in Aaron Gray we've got a lot of real world stuff we need to worry about. It needs to matter, especially in later books, that he disappears.
Having said that, I'm not suggesting that when a day passes in Breveny an exact day has passed in Aaron's world. It's pretty close, but still different enough for Julia to question it in later books. If you want to work out roughly how long it was then you can count the days they were in Breveny. I was careful to include each night when Aaron fell asleep.
So back to it mattering about Aaron and Julia going missing...
How much fallout was there?
There was a lot. I even wrote a chapter on it, but the story seemed to end more naturally when they arrived back from Breveny, and I wanted to show their friendship at the end, so I skipped six months. The short version is:
- Aaron had several meetings with social work professionals who tried to establish why he ran. He insisted on telling the truth, which frustrated the professionals, but Mrs Seeger convinced everyone that whatever happened he had returned much more emotionally resilient and genuinely a nicer person.
- Julia had not done anything like this before, and her parents were very concerned. Fortunately she had a very open relationship with her parents and they were able to trust each other. They also met with Mrs Seeger who told them nice things about Aaron.
- Jack also went missing on the same day, and hadn't returned. Limited resources within Social Care and police meant that the focus was almost entirely on finding Jack, rather than two kids who had vanished and reappeared unharmed a few days later.
Some of this will be mentioned, but not play a huge part, in books two and three.
Do keep the questions coming. They're great fun to answer!