Time for a peek at the little beasties that have a part to play in my debut fantasy novel The Weave. I did a bit of research about poisonous spiders around the world and this is the one –the Red-back Spider-that caught my eye and provided the inspiration for the Amarello spiders in the book.
The Red-back spider is a member of the Widow spider family. The female is more dangerous than the male who often, after serving her needs, gets guzzled. The lady of the species has a red stripe on the upper body and a red or orange streak underneath. Its two fangs bite into the victim then she wraps them up in silk and sucks out the liquefied insides. Lovely.
I invented most of the “facts” about the Amarellos to ensure that they would do exactly what I wanted them to do. I don’t think anything approaching the Amarellos really exists. But you never know!
Here is an extract from the book. Ombrine the witch is explaining to Oskar, the Comte de Tréville about her Amarellos.
‘Come and look at my Amarellos. Let me explain to you. Look closely and you will see there is organisation there – you with your tidy mind should appreciate that. These that lie around the outside of the basket, the larger ones, they are the sentinels. Their role is that of guardians of the nest and they line it with venom sacs to keep away predators. The inner layer comprises the nurslings, smaller than the sentinels – they take care of the eggs. Then we have the weavers, those small lively ones who make the rustling noise. They are the only ones to leave the nest and create the webs – and now there, right in the centre, there –’ she pointed to what to Oskar resembled a black velvet pincushion, ‘– there we have the queen, who lays the eggs.’
Oskar peered more closely into the basket. Unaccountably his eyes were prickling and teary. He opened his mouth to speak but found that his jaw was stiff, his tongue hard like a slab of wood. A shiver ran through him and gradually cold numbness crept up his body.
What happens next? Sorry – you will have to read the book, out in mid-November.