Know the Novel – Introduction to Ajee

Hello everyone,

In typical fashion, I’m finishing my post for Christine Smith’s Know the Novel linkup at the very last moment. I’m so rushed this time that I’m not adding any kind of header graphic. There’s some pictures below though and they’re really pretty.

As a very brief introduction, I’m working of writing this for FicFrenzy (also Christine Smith) and two weeks and two days in, I’m up to the second scene break, and heading towards a cool moment. Despite the glacial progress, I’m pretty pleased. I’m not stuck, I just have a lot of distractions. Also, Ajee is the main character, not the name of the book. With that said, let’s plunge right into the questions.

1. What first sparked the idea for this novel?

This idea has been hanging around in one version or another for quite a few years now. I think the initial thoughts was: Hey! I should write something about how this couple met. It could totally be a Cinderella story while being quite different. So much of the worldbuilding has shifted since then, it’s leaning much more into a different fairytale and the plot has changed dramatically.

2. Share a blurb (or just an overall summary)!

So I’m having trouble writing a good blurb, so I’m just going to write a bad one and embrace it.

So Ajee is pretty sure that her sister-in-law is evil and plotting her demise or something equally bad (we know she’s doing something with mining that is definitely bad), so she runs away. It turns out there’s a nearby magical bridge they didn’t know about to a place where Ajee can just live quietly in a village and pretend she’s not important. It’s not easy because she doesn’t speak the language, but they make it work and she actually has friend and community now. But of course this doesn’t last. People from her old home turn up and they want a marriage alliance, but she knows it’s an evil plot so with the help of some friends she dresses up in the fine clothes she conveniently brought with her and tries to play her own ambassadorial role. Her goal of course is just to stop the prince from marrying the wrong person and then disappear back to her boring obscure life, but of course that’s not going to work.

3. Where does the story take place? What are some of your favorite aspects of the setting?

This story takes place across two lands. One is a land of vast plans where people ride giant foxes. If you think that sounds really cool, I’m sorry because my protagonist gets out of there el pronto.

The second setting is cool though. It’s a part of my old land of Verlis which is also seeing quite a few changes. I’m trying to hang onto the dangerous wildcats and tiny dragons, but I’m adding some pacific island village vibes and a complex way in which people make promises and connect to the land they live in.

I also have fun foreign policy to deal with. This world is broken up into lots or areas with impassable edges and the occasional magic bridge crossing from one to another. On occasion someone might find a path to an uninhabited land ready for exploration. It is unknown if there is an end to this. Slightly less often, the bridge crosses to somewhere people already live and that makes for fun interactions.

Verlis has stayed mostly disconnected from the rest of the world (One of the main bridges starts in the middle of the ocean) and it’s a little behind many places technologically, and they like their peace. Or at least they’d prefer to have their internal squabbles go on uninterrupted.

4. Tell us about your protagonist(s).

Ajee really wants to be unimportant because being noticeable is a way to get killed. She is also willing to take big risks if something matters a lot to her. And she has the super handy ability of being able to pack a ridiculous number of things into a small space and despite thinking she hates society she has really good social observation skills.

Etuate is the second son of the guardian of Verlis. This means he has plenty of responsibilities, especially of the foreign relations variety, but not a lot of power in anything else. He’s not especially thrilled about marrying for the good of his people, especially since there’s this unusual girl in the village that he’s taken an interest in, but then this woman starts showing up in the most beautiful dresses, saying cryptic things, and disappearing and he is intrigued.

5. Who (or what) is the antagonist?

Ajee’s sister-in-law’s associates are willing to murder, enslave and worse in order to get their hands on certain precious minerals. They also have clever young women who will marry their way into getting them. There’s also politics involved.

6. What excites you the most about this novel?

Probably some cool bits of world building and culture. Also seeing what it’s going to turn into because there’s a lot of things I haven’t fleshed out well in my mind yet. I expect to meet a lot of cool characters. Also I’m excited for library girl (whose name is Meraia). She’s going to play an interesting role in future stories and it’ll be fun introducing her as a younger character.

7. Is this going to be a series? standalone? something else?

Series. This is sort of a prequel, but probably not the only prequel. There’s a twelve dancing princesses idea for a nearby setting that I tried writing before and do want to attempt again. I’m planning lots of stories in this world.

8. Are you plotting? pantsing? plansting?

Oh, plansting. This time I don’t have a lot planned out, but I have an end situation I must meet, and fairytale elements to include, so that’ll be interesting.

9. Name a few unique elements in this story.

My weirdly fractured world with “bridges” between regions. Honestly it’s a bit like a video game world with some places you can’t pass.

10. Share some fun “extras” of the story (a song or full playlist, some aesthetics, a collage, a Pinterest board, a map you’ve made, a special theme you’re going to incorporate, ANYTHING you want to share!).

I haven’t really made extras. The map is a few scribbles, I don’t have a playlist yet (I want one), and I also haven’t done character portraits (next procrastination activity).

What I do have is a few location inspiration photos from around the waterfall up the road from where I currently live. Actual island rainforest photos.

I also have my old Pinterest board, now released from being secret. The story has largely changed locations since I made it, but it’s still kinda cool.

That’s all for now. Hopefully I’ll have time to do next months Know the Novel post, but things are going to get really hectic and awesome and sad as my time overseas comes to a close, so I really can’t say.

Bless you all.


  1. Christine Smith

    I loved reading about this! The way you’re weaving in Cinderella threads but still making it its own thing is so fun. Pulling inspiration from fairy tales is my favorite.

    The entire world sounds so intriguing! The bridges sound awesome! And I know it’s going to be even more authentic and engaging as you’re pulling inspiration from your current location and experiences. I love that!

    This was a treat to read. Thank you so much for joining Know the Novel and sharing! I do hope the writing goes well.

    • Brielle Andela

      Your excitement for my writing is an encouragement. I do want to write it, but I’m not always sure what the point of this story actually is. Like I don’t have a full reason for writing it. I just Have the desire to write something.

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