I’m so happy to welcome Julia Ember to my blog as part of the Sunday Street Team! Thanks so much for letting me interview you, Julia! 🙂
Did any of the characters surprise you while writing? Meaning- did they charge ahead without you realizing what was happening?
I think Mnemba’s backstory evolved quite a lot when I started writing. In my outline, I had a really clear idea of where the girls were going, but not necessarily where they’d been and what had happened to them. At the start of the novel, the reader learns pretty quickly that Mnemba was attacked in some way and that it made her leave home. I always saw her as a survivor and the recovery from sexual assault has always been part of the book when I imagined it.
But I hadn’t really fleshed out all the reasons it made her leave and when I started writing that section, I wanted to really capture the reality of the conflicting attitudes in a small town when rape occurs. There’s a real mix in Mnemba’s village between those who blame her, those who defend her and those who just pity her. In the book, she says that what Obasi (her attacker) did broke her, but it was the people in her village who drove her away. Writing that section was really hard because no one in her town was outright hostile, but there is this attitude of hope for forgiveness that can’t happen that puts lots of pressure on Mnemba.
It’s a dark subject and I hope I’ve handled it well.
Why did you decide to focus on unicorns?
I wanted to focus on mythical creatures in my safari world in order to really capture the magical nature of the safari experience. I wanted readers to encounter the unexpected and to genuinely wonder what they’d come across. There are a lot of magical creatures in Unicorn Tracks (and a bestiary at the end of the book!) I’m a lifelong horse nerd and I’ve always loved Unicorns, so they became the focus!
Did you listen to music while writing? If so, were there any specific songs?
I work much better with background white noise than with music. I love writing in cafes or other public spaces. When that’s not possible, I sit in my living room which is on the street-side of my apartment and open the windows.
I sometimes do listen to music to get me into a particular mood for a scene before I start writing. My current WIP has a lot of sad/wistful scenes, so I’ve been listening to a lot of Adele and Hosier!
What has been your favorite book in 2016 so far? (I know, it’s a tough question)
*shakes fist* Why would you ask me that?? Well. I only recently discovered Sarah J Maas, and I’ve devoured the whole Throne of Glass series (or what is available) already in 2016. I also adored Janet B. Taylor’s INTO THE DIM. Maybe because I’m also an American living in Scotland (albeit I’ve lived in the UK most of my life) like Hope and I used to study Medieval History. I loved the science behind the time travel, Eleanor of Aquitaine … everything, really.
What’s your favorite food? Curious minds want to know 😉
That’s a really tough question! Chocolate, probably? Although I don’t know if that truly counts as a food. I also love Indian food … especially really rich, creamy curries like Passanda or Korma with Peshwari Naan. It just tastes so luxurious.
What are some of your favorite websites to browse when looking for inspiration for your books?
Pinterest! Definitely Pinterest! I love being able to type random things into the search fields and build up my boards of inspiration. I have a little bit of an obsession with author-made gif collections or novel aesthetics. I always love them and I love making my own.
Are you currently working on a new project? Can you spill any details?
I have one manuscript on submission that I’m not going to talk about because I think it’ll jinx it. I’m currently working on the second Ashes of Gold book. The first book in the trilogy, The Tiger’s Watch will be published in August 2017, with books 2 and 3 coming in 2018. I am so excited to introduce this series to the world. The books are dark, brutal high fantasy rather than romance like Unicorn Tracks, although there is a strong romantic subplot. The series features a non-binary protagonist and I was really happy to find a publisher who fully supported my character and their pronouns.
Here is the blurb for The Tiger’s Watch:
Sixteen-year-old Tashi has spent their life training as a inhabiter, a soldier who spies and kills using a bonded animal. When the capital falls after a brutal siege, Tashi flees to a remote monastery to hide. But when the invading army turns the monastery into a hospital, Tashi catches the eye of Xian, the regiment’s fearless young commander.
Tashi spies on Xian’s every move. In front of his men, Xian seems dangerous, even sadistic but Tashi sees a more vulnerable side of the enemy commander – a side that draws them to Xian.
When their spying unveils that everything they learned at the academy was a lie, Tashi faces a choice: save their country or the boy they’ve started to love? But while Tashi grapples with their decision, their volatile bonded tiger doesn’t question her allegiances. Katala slaughters Xian’s soldiers, leading the enemy to hunt her. But an inhabiter’s bond to their animal is for life – when Katala dies, so will Tashi.
What was your initial reaction when you saw the final cover?
I might have squealed. I had already seen the background art, as the glorious Meghan Moss shipped it to me as a painting! I cried when I got it in the mail.
About the Author
Originally from the Windy City, Julia Ember now resides in Sunny Scotland where she learned to enjoy both haggis and black pudding. She spends her days working as a professional Book Nerd for a large book wholesaler, and her nights writing YA Romantic Fantasy novels. She also spends an inordinate amount of time managing her growing city-based menagerie of pets with Harry Potter themed names. Presently, she is the haggard slave Sirius Black and Luna Lovegood the cats and Bellatrix Le Snake. She also owns a freakishly adorable cob pony called Africa.
A world traveller since childhood, Julia has now visited over 60 countries. Her travels inspire the fictional worlds she writes about and she populates those worlds with magic and monsters.