THE SEAFARER’S KISS COUNTDOWN: Three Days Left – Interview with Author Julia Ember
Hi readers, and welcome to my The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember countdown. It’s only three days left now until the release, and I’m sure you guys are as excited as I am for this book to be released into the world. Today I have an interview with Julia Ember, the author of the book. She answered a few questions about The Seafarer’s Kiss and what it’s like being a writer and reader. You don’t want to miss this.
1. What inspired you to write The Seafarer’s Kiss?
Well, I’ve always loved the story of The Little Mermaid. My mom likes to remind me now that when I was about three, I watched it continuously as my “go-to” film for about six months. The other part of my inspiration came from my postgraduate studies. I was a medievalist and as part of my study, I learned old English, studied both the Vikings and the Anglo-Saxons. I’ve always found the Vikings fascinating. If you read the original text of the Little Mermaid, it talks about her floating on an iceberg … I always thought that fit much better with the Northern sea, than the kind of tropical world portrayed by Disney. The title of the ‘Seafarer’ comes from an Anglo-Saxon poem called The Seafarer, which is about a sailor who is alone at sea. There is a very melancholy feel to the poem, and a kind of loneliness that I wanted to explore.
2. The Seafarer’s Kiss is your second published book, your debut book Unicorn Tracks came out last year, what was different this time around for you?
In a lot of ways, Seafarer’s Kiss was a much more personal book for me to write. Mnemba (the protagonist in Unicorn Tracks) is athletic and outdoorsy and brave. She loves animals and her work. She’s dedicated to the wildlife she tracks. She’s overall a much less morally grey character and she’s a lesbian rather than bisexual. Ersel is much more introverted. She’s fat and bi. She’s been an outcast. She has unpopular political beliefs. She sometimes acts before she thinks through all the ramifications. She’s so much like me that writing her at times was genuinely painful in a way that writing Unicorn Tracks never was.
I think part of that is also a question of authorial intent. When I wrote Unicorn Tracks, I wanted to write a fun, short novella about two girls falling in love on safari and save mythical creatures. It did evolve a bit beyond that, but that was the original impetus. With Seafarer’s Kiss, I really wanted to capture the tone and the emotions of the Anglo-Saxon Seafarer. It’s a much darker, deeper book. I think that has both come with improvements to my craft as a writer, experience and a different starting outlook to the project.
3. What was the hardest scene to write in The Seafarer’s Kiss?
I’m not sure that I could pinpoint a specific scene because so many scenes were written, then re-written, then scrapped and re-incorporated. However, I will say that the writing the dynamic between Ersel and Havamal was the hardest part of the book for me. Forgiveness has never come easily to me. Moving past huge conflict, hurt feelings, betrayals, to come out the other side with someone as friends, has never been something that I am good at. In real life, it causes me enormous stress and pain. I really felt that stress when I was writing the dynamic for Ersel. In Havamal, she has a best friend, who she was once in love with, who betrays her in almost unspeakable ways throughout the course of the book.
In the latter half of the novel, Havamal does his best to atone, and in order to do what is best for everyone else, Ersel has to work with him. She doesn’t forget what he did to her and in a sense, she never really forgives him, but she is able to put it aside and build a friendship with him again. It’s a different sort of friendship. Ersel acknowledges that the blind trust she had in him when they were kids is ruined. She realises ultimately that both of them have hurt people, made horrible mistakes and maybe it’s not fair of her to hold him to a higher standard than she holds herself. It was really difficult for me to capture the nuances of those changing feelings and the internal conflict that goes along with them.
4. As a writer, do you find you have time over to read?
Ha! With enormous difficulty, and yet I seem to read more and more books year on year. One of the best things for me are audiobooks. I love them because I can listen to them while I do things around the house, cooking or driving.
5. What are some of your favorite books that you feel everyone has to check out?
I have so many that I’ll just give a few from the last six months! I’ve recently read and DEVOURED:
- Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
- Consider by Kristy Acevedo
- Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
- The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes
What did you think of the answers? And have you pre-ordered The Seafarer’s Kiss yet? If not, let me show you where you can:
About the Author
Julia Ember is a polyamorous, bisexual writer and native of Chicago who now resides in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Seafarer’s Kiss is her second novel and was influenced by her postgraduate work in medieval literature at The University of St. Andrews. Her first novel, Unicorn Tracks was published by Harmony Ink Press.