Author Interview with Julia Ember

POSTED ON April 27, 2017 BY Austine IN Interview

I’m really excited to have Julia Ember, author of The Seafarer’s Kiss, on the blog today! Julia is also the author of Unicorn Tracks, and the upcoming The Tiger’s Watch (expected release August 2017).

Keep reading to learn a bit more about The Seafarer’s Kiss, Julia’s advice for aspiring authors, and which Hogwarts/Ilvermorny houses she’s in (hint: she and I are in the same ones!).


All About Julia

You wrote a book! That’s pretty awesome. Why don’t you tell us a bit about what inspired The Seafarer’s Kiss?

My inspiration for the Seafarer’s Kiss came from two sources. First, I’ve always loved The Little Mermaid. It’s my favourite Disney Film and my favourite of Hans Christian Andersen’s stories. I love the collision of two worlds that occurs in the story, and how voice is so centrally important to the plot. A lot of people criticise the Disney film and say that Eric falls in love with Ariel even though she has no voice. But I never interpreted it that way – I always thought that her voice was what drew him to her, and without it, he doesn’t even recognise her. The idea of having a voice and defending it is very prominent in Seafarer’s Kiss.

The other thing that inspired the story is my own postgraduate work. After completing my BA, I moved back to the UK and studied Medieval Literature at the University of St. Andrews. As part of my course, I learned read Old Norse and Anglo-Saxon. There are two surviving poems in Anglo-Saxon called The Seafarer and The Wanderer. Both are about sailors at sea, who have found themselves alone on the ocean for different reasons. In The Seafarer, the speaker has lost his companions and there is an aching sense of loneliness that pervades the very beautiful poem. A lot of the world-building for Seafarer’s Kiss is based on that period of British History – where the Anglo-Saxons and the Vikings were coming into conflict. The character of Ragna, who is the book’s primary love interest, has been kidnapped and finds herself lost at sea.

Introduce us to your main character!

The main character is Seafarer’s Kiss is a bisexual, fat, blue-haired mermaid named Ersel.  She is looking for a way to escape the glacier where her merclan lives, because the King is trying to force her to find a mate and hatch babies.  She collects human trinkets from the sea bottom, and loves exploring abandoned shipwrecks.

Lots of aspiring authors out there. Any advice for them?

Not all journeys in publishing are the same! My own journey has not followed the most traditional model … I published a novella, and had contracts for two novels before I got my agent. The important thing is to write what you love and polish it until you’re proud of it.

Don’t try to write to a trend, because the trend will probably be over by the time you start querying. If you’re writing diverse stories, the publishing world needs them desperately – so don’t give up! There are lots of routes to publication beyond the Big 5 Houses, so if you find the gatekeepers won’t get out of the way for you, find another gate. Someone will be looking for your stories.

That being said, it’s also important to remember that writers get better over time. Your first MS, and maybe even your first published work, are very unlikely to be the best work you’ll ever produce. I went to a lot of craft workshops in my first few years of getting back to writing fiction, and these were enormously valuable both for improving my writing and for finding a network of other writers I could connect with. Finding friends is so important in this lonely industry!


The Fun Stuff

What is your Hogwarts/Ilvermorny house(s)?

Slytherin and Horned Serpent … which I am pleased about because I love snakes.

You just won America’s Got Talent. What’s your talent?

Probably singing! Even though I can’t dance to save my life, I’m a good singer. I used to do Broadway Musical Review in college.

This morning you woke up with the ability to time travel to only one time period. Where (or more accurately “when”) would you go?

Definitely Renaissance Italy. I’m extremely fascinated by lots of time periods – but they knew how to live it up in Renaissance Italy. Fat was in vogue. Art and literature were in. Mostly important, it was between plague periods, so I wouldn’t have to worry quite so much about dying horribly.


About Julia Ember

Originally from Chicago, Julia Ember now resides in Edinburgh, Scotland. She spends her days working in the book trade and her nights writing teen fantasy novels. Her hobbies include riding horses, starting far too many craft projects, PokemonGo and looking after her city-based menagerie of pets with names from Harry Potter. Luna Lovegood and Sirius Black the cats currently run her life.

Julia is a polyamorous, bisexual writer. She regularly takes part in events for queer teens, including those organised by the Scottish Booktrust and LGBT Youth Scotland. A world traveler since childhood, she has now visited more than sixty countries. Her travels inspire the fantasy worlds she creates, though she populates them with magic and monsters.


A huge thank you to Julia Ember for taking the time to answer a few questions for us here on NovelKnight! Make sure to check out her new book, The Seafarer’s Kiss, out May 4, 2017!

Author Interview with Julia Ember
The Seafarer's Kiss by Julia Ember
Published on May 4, 2017 by Duet Books
Pages: 230
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Having long-wondered what lives beyond the ice shelf, nineteen-year-old mermaid Ersel learns of the life she wants when she rescues and befriends Ragna, a shield-maiden stranded on the mermen’s glacier. But when Ersel’s childhood friend and suitor catches them together, he gives Ersel a choice: say goodbye to Ragna or face justice at the hands of the glacier’s brutal king.

Determined to forge a different fate, Ersel seeks help from Loki. But such deals are never as one expects, and the outcome sees her exiled from the only home and protection she’s known. To save herself from perishing in the barren, underwater wasteland and be reunited with the human she’s come to love, Ersel must try to outsmart the God of Lies.

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