Harris shines light on mental illnesses through book Riven


Local author Jane Harris publishes a novel called Riven, the first book of her trilogy, that reveals the truth behind mental illness and tries to help people that suffer from dissociative identity disorder. Harris’s unique novel gives you a perspective between fantasy and realistic fiction unlike most young adult novels.

Tanya Raghu, Staff Writer

The effects of a mental illness is as painful and haunting to helpless bystanders as the victims themselves. As a witness, while her friends and family members suffer from mental illnesses, Jane Harris is determined to bring awareness and reveal the truth behind misconceptions of mental afflictions with her novel, Riven.


Her journey starts as an older sister, creating stories for her siblings and as she fosters her gift, others around her know her talent could grow into something special. As an aficionado of the fine arts, Harris pursues an art history degree at Brigham Young University, while drawing inspiration for her writing from playing the piano, sketching and painting.


In 2012, when Harris attended a Newbery Awards gala for Jack Gantos, she met various well-known authors and begins to realize that publishing a book is a plausible goal, inspiring her to make a career out of writing.


“I remember when she first started writing it I thought it would only last one year, but here we are three and a half years later and she has dedicated hours everyday to [the book],” son of Harris and Coppell High School sophomore Aiden Harris said.


Harris is also a part time substitute at CHS, allowing her to promote her book while garnering support and constructive criticism directly from students since the book is catered to young adults.


“When I come in to substitute teach, I tell people that I’m writing a book and it has been so nice to get feedback from high school students,” Harris said. “Before, my friends and family members would read it but they are grown ups and the intended audience is students.”


After three and a half years in the making, the first book of her trilogy Riven was finished and she hired a publicist and editor, the first step of the publishing process. The tedious process of publishing was initiated by her team as they sent her book to more than 50 agents, seeking their representation and hoping that the story would be pursued.


“Having a base at CHS gives me encouragement, a way to promote because [students] are sending each other PDF’s of the book and their suggestions and feedback is really valuable to me,” Harris said.  


Currently, due to the lengthy nature of acquiring a publishing contract, Harris is considering self-publishing and releasing the book to an audience primarily on digital platforms in the next five months.


The setting of Riven takes place in Coppell, enhancing the story for local students and allowing them to read a book from a perspective they have never experienced before.


“With the book taking place in my own town it made it feel more realistic just because it was like ‘hey, that could have actually happened outside my own backdoor’,” CHS sophomore Meghan Bauer said.


The uniqueness of Riven comes from its autobiographical quality since the real life personas of her three children are showcased by the book character’s qualities.


“Those were some of my favorite parts to write because of the interactions between them and the dialogue because I think it makes them really authentic because it’s just them,” Harris said.


Many students found the book to be different from typical young adult novels because of its interesting hybrid characteristic between a fantasy and realistic fiction.


The storyline of Riven is centered around Emily, a troubled teenager part of a broken family. When her childhood abuser becomes a part of her life again, the voices in her head start getting louder. To cope with the cruelness of her situation, she delves into the fantasy world she once created as a child to escape her harsh reality. The line between her fantasy world and reality blurs and she finds it difficult to differentiate between her two worlds.  


“One of my goals with this book is to normalize people who might have experienced DID (dissociative identity disorder) to a lesser degree,” Harris said. “The main message of the book is acceptance, self-love, self-trust and personal empowerment.”
For more information about Jane Harris and her upcoming novel, click here.