Monday, November 10, 2014

Mary-Jean Harris, Aizai the Forgotten, plus #giveaway, #free, #ebook

NOTE: There will be a giveaway of an e-book copy of the novel Aizai the Forgotten, which will be emailed to one person who comments and leaves contact information.  

AUTHOR: Mary-Jean Harris
BOOK TITLE: Aizai the Forgotten
GENRE: Young adult fantasy
PUBLISHER: Muse It Up Publishing

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?

I write part-time, and hope to continue to do this for the rest of my life. Currently, I am also a student at Carleton University in physics and philosophy, which takes most of my time. Although sometimes I think it would be nice to be a full-time writer, for me, I enjoy doing lots of other things too, and these all give my inspiration for writing anyways. As for organizing writing time, I write mostly during the summer or on holidays, though do a bit during the school year as well. I am working on putting more time in to write though!

When and why did you begin writing?

The first story I wrote was an adventure story about Neopets (online pets) when I was about 7. When I look back at it, I’m surprised at how much I wrote. I never finished it, and I don’t think I had a plan of where it was going, but it was a neat story in any case. I also used to write a lot in a journal, and I really like reading my entries now. I started to write more short stories and a novel in high school, and have continued with that since, and later on I published my first novel Aizai the Forgotten.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?

During the year, that would be mainly school. It’s quite busy, but I really enjoy it, and am hoping to do something in particle physics and cosmology when I’m finished. I also enjoy travelling, especially to places with ancient buildings like castles and with places I can go hiking and exploring. Someday I hope to live in the country or (ideally!) on an island in Scotland. I’ve been to the Isle of Skye last summer and it was beautiful there and very remote. The perfect place for a writer, actually.

What are your thoughts about promotion?

It’s a necessary evil, and I’m terrible at it. There is a lot writers can do online for promoting themselves, which is good because you don’t have to go out anywhere, but it also is challenging to be seen above millions of other websites and blogs. Though I’ve found that people are more likely to read your book if they’ve met you in person, or if they have something you give them, like a bookmark. So it is good to do a mix of promotion online and in person. But I don’t overdo things, because what I like to do is write, and it wouldn’t make sense to hog up my time with promoting my work if I don’t write anything new.

Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?

I usually get writer’s block when I don’t know what’s going to happen next in the story. I sort of poke forwards and don’t really get anywhere, and the characters just do boring things. I don’t know what to do and they don’t know what to do, and so I don’t even want to write. I think the best way to overcome this is to plan your story better and introduce neat elements that will come up soon so you have something to work towards getting to. If I know there will be a dragon at the other side of the hill, then the journey there somehow becomes easier, and more fun.

Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?

I did some research on things about Renaissance magic and philosophy, because although my book is set in a later time period, it was influenced greatly by the Renaissance. One neat thing was talismans, which are magical objects that a magician infuses with some power to make them do a certain task. Although I didn’t use it in my book, I read that the famous painting Primavera by Botticelli was supposed to be a talisman to bring down the cosmic energy of Venus, which I found really interesting.

What are your current projects?

I am currently writing the sequel to my first novel Aizai the Forgotten, which is the second in what will (hopefully) be a trilogy in my The Soul Wanderers series. It is more challenging than the first book I wrote because it takes place in two time periods: in 17th century Spain and 12th century Scotland. I don’t do much research, because although it is historical, it is also fantasy, so I make up a lot of things that never happened. But I have read a few books about the Druids and monasteries in medieval Britain, which I’m going to use in my book. But it’s been fun so far, and I’m about 60% through the first draft.

Where can we find you? Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?

What genre do you write in and why?

I write fantasy, and I like to combine the style of fantasy with a more old-fashioned style in my writing. The magic and exploring other places is one of the highlights of fantasy for me. It also seems more “noble” and truer than other fiction, especially in books like The Lord of the Rings.

What influences your writing?

People I see, places I’ve been, but largely just things I make up. Other books and movies certainly influence me more indirectly, because I read a lot of fantasy books and classics mostly. I also include a lot of things from philosophy I’ve read, especially ancient philosophy and esoteric traditions, and change them a bit to incorporate magic.

Do you outline before you write?  If not, what’s your initial process?

For my novel Aizai the Forgotten, when I first started it, I hadn’t intended for it to be a novel. It started with me just speculating about a lost world that had come into existence and then had vanished, so I decided to write about it. I added a boy who had read about this world and was trying to discover what it was and if he could get to it. I was also trying to discover what Aizai was, but after a while, I figured it out, and at that point, I started plotting the story instead of just writing it. For the sequel though, I had a more definite initial plan, though the plot is still forming as I write it.

What comes first: the plot or characters?

I think it depends on the story. For me, I had a loose plot first, and then added a character, but often characters inspire the plot, and they have to go on a certain path just based on who they are, so the plot will form out of them. They really go hand in hand, and if you don’t have a character that fits the plot or vice versa, then it will be hard to match up the inner journey of the character with the outer journey that they go through as the plot progresses.

How did you decide how your characters should look?

I usually base characters on pictures of people, or people I know partially. I find it difficult to imagine someone from scratch, so I “snatch” someone I’ve seen (though not very well, because I don’t want to be influenced by how they are “supposed” to act), or a picture. I also have an enormous fantasy character inspiration board on Pinterest (, which is fun, but it’s also becoming ridiculous because there are more characters on there that I could write stories about in my lifetime!


With an otherworldly horse borrowed from an astrologer, and armed with a strange magical device, seventeen-year-old Wolfdon Pellegrin sets off through seventeenth-century France and Spain to fulfill his dream of finding the forgotten realm of Aizai.

One obscure book, by the philosopher Paulo de la Costa Santamiguero, has given him a lead to start his journey—go to the northern coast of Spain, where a portal to Aizai supposedly exists.

Though death and danger loom ever near, nothing can dim the longing for Aizai kindling within Wolfdon’s heart. Yet even as he strives to discover the mysterious realm’s secrets and fate, a frightening truth becomes clear—one that may cost Wolfdon everything, including the future.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, I'm happy with how the cover came out too!

  2. Wonderful interview, ladies. Congratulations on your novel, Mary-Jean. It's always interesting to see how different authors work. Best of luck to you.

    1. Thanks, Beverly. I also like to see how other writers work and what I can learn from them.

  3. Thanks for the comments, everyone. The winner for the e-book is Beverly Stowe McClure! Congratulations!

  4. I was just checking my email when I saw the good news. Yay. I'm excited. Thank you. My email is Beverlysmcclure (at) aol (dot) com. Looking forward to reading your story.