Interviews

{THE SEAFARER’S KISS COUNTDOWN} Interview with Author Julia Ember

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.

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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:

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:

You can pre-order The Seafarer’s Kiss on Amazon, The Book Depository or on Duet Books’ website. Add the book on Goodreads here.

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.

Connect with author Julia Ember at Julia-Ember.com, on Twitter @jules_chronicle, and on Facebook at facebook.com/juliaemberwrites.

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{The Paths We Choose Release Week} Interview with Author Maria Hollis

The Paths We Choose Release Week: Day Four – Interview with Maria Hollis

Hi everyone, there’s only one day left now until The Paths We Choose is out and free in the world. To celebrate this I have an interview with the author Maria Hollis as a part of the blog tour for her book. Check out the other blog posts for the tour here. I seriously love her answers to my questions and hope you will too. Exciting things are coming so I hope you’re ready. Now don’t forget to pre-order the book on Amazon here and to add it on Goodreads. To see my earlier posts for my The Paths We Choose Release Week feature, go here.

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1. What was your favorite part about writing The Paths We Choose?

So many things! This is definitely a story that felt so close to my heart. Writing about a Brazilian girl like me was such a nice experience. I could include little bits of things here and there that only Brazilian people would understand. There are so many books written by U.S. authors that just don’t get what being Latinx means so being able to bring all these different characters to talk about themselves was something I loved to do. And I hope to keep doing that in the next books.

The friendship between all the girls was also a really important thing. My friends have been my strength for such a long time and having a story like that is such a gift. We need more books with female friendships as the driving force of a story.

2. What do you feel is the biggest difference between The Melody of You and Me and The Paths We Choose? 

Writing The Paths We Choose made me a lot more self-conscious and nervous about other people’s reaction. I didn’t plan myself a lot for how The Melody of You and Me would look like for other people because I truly believed only a few of my friends would read it. My thought was “well, if I get 10 dollars out of this novella it’s a win already!”. Now I’m trying to change a bit to fit what a bigger range of readers want to read. The main plot will stay the same, that’s not changing. But receiving feedback from so many people is definitely helping me go a step further to make the characters and the story always better.

As to the story, I think TPWC brings a romance that is a bit less typical for the genre. There are a lot of stories where the couple falls deeply in love and they know this is the right thing to do and they’ll do everything for each other. I love that Lily and Mayte work so well as a couple but they aren’t sure of anything. And that sometimes the journey and experience of being with someone is already worth it.

3. Your books take place in a town called Lillac Town and I was wondering if we could get some more information about this town?

I created Lillac Town because I’ve never been in the U.S. so I couldn’t be completely accurate if I choose an actual city that exists. But also, because I never really like describing cities in my stories, not even when I’m writing about my own. It’s just a personal thing, I guess. It’s supposedly set in an imaginary area of Pennsylvania. In the text, I describe just a few things here and there because I feel that this isn’t that relevant for the stories I’m telling right now. How most people move there because of the University and the Callaway School of Music and Ballet. It has this small town feeling but its population is mainly students with a few family neighborhoods and commercial areas. I have a little map I created to know where each character lives. Maybe I’ll ask for a friend to make a better version of it and show it to the readers until the end of the series.

4. Lily and her friends every Wednesday evening have Girl’s Night, what are some of the things they have done in the name of Wednesday’s Girl’s Night?

Usually, they set up board games or watch movies together. I feel like there would be many discussions on what movie to choose since they have very different tastes. We have Anika who likes the typical romantic comedy, Hope’s a sci-fi enthusiastic and Lily’s bored by most movies. In the end, Karen probably chooses an indie LGBT+ movie that will make everyone happy. Cooking together, sharing things about their lives and cleaning the house are a few other things they do. Sometimes, if they’re feeling in the mood, they even go out to karaoke night. The idea is that they always do things together without the interruption of outsiders or partners. The next book will also have more things about the girls so I don’t want to give everything away in case I want to use it in the future.

5. What does the future look like for the Lillac Town series?

Well, by now most people know that Karen is the next POV. And if you read TPWC, you obviously know who’s her love interest. It’ll be an interesting book to write. What I can say right now is that there’s a very personal reason as to why Karen moved to the U.S. and we’re gonna go deep on that. She has a lot of sadness that she tries to hide with her charming personality.

Since the beginning, I decided that if TMOYAM did well enough I’d publish 4 novellas in the Lillac Town Series about women falling in love with other women in many different ways and I’m standing on this decision. I hope to get all of them out until 2018. It’ll be hard to say goodbye now that I feel so attached to all these characters but I think we’re all ready to start new adventures too! But for now, we still have more two love stories that I know people will love to read.

What did you think of the interview? Are you as excited as I am for the book to come out tomorrow?

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BLOG TOUR: Thanks a Lot, John LeClair Review + Interview with Johanna Parkhurst

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Welcome to  the blog tour for Thanks a Lot, John Leclair by Johanna Parkhurst! Down below you can check out my review of the book, and also see an interview I had with Johanna.

o-thanks-a-lot-john-leclairThanks a Lot by John LeClair

Publication Date: December 15th 2016

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary and LGBT

Rating: sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5

Purchase here: Amazon | The Book Depository  | Harmony Ink Press

Synopsis: A Companion to Here’s to You, Zeb Pike

Sixteen-year-old Emmitt LaPoint has secretly been writing letters to his hockey idol, John LeClair, for years. So it’s probably only fitting that Emmitt’s small Vermont town seems desperate to make him the next LeClair. After all, Emmitt is about to lead his high school hockey team to the state championship, he has a near-perfect GPA, and he’s liked by almost everyone.

But even golden boys have problems, and Emmitt has more than his share. His father’s back in town to breathe down his neck. He’s happily dating his coach’s nephew, Dusty, but almost nobody knows he’s gay—and that secret is getting harder and harder to keep.

When Emmitt discovers Dusty is keeping secrets of his own, he’s forced to decide exactly what kind of golden boy he wants to be.

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Thanks a Lot, John LeClair is an amazing and adorable book that will move readers all across the world. The story is about Emmitt and Dusty, a young gay couple who are closeted to their high school and community, basically to everyone except their families. The reason is because Emmitt is a hockey player who wants to play in the NHL and there are not exactly a lot of hockey players out at the moment. No matter their struggles, the love between Emmitt and Dusty is strong, and one that will appeal to so many readers.

I think I might be gay. But gay guys can’t be hockey players, right? I’ve never heard of a gay hockey player. Ever. So I guess I can’t be gay. Because all I want to be is a hockey player.   —Emmitt LaPoint, age 11

There is so much to love about this book, Emmitt is an amazing protagonist who deals with so much. How to be a hockey player, a big brother and a son to a father he has a complicated relationship to and a boyfriend. I love seeing how Emmitt deals with his life and the struggles he faces. The relationship between Emmitt and Dusty is so sweet, and they go through a lot, both ups and downs, just like any other high school couple. They are just two gay boys willing to do anything for each other.

Coach groans. “Emmitt, are you listening to yourself? You sound like some lovesick teenager!” He pauses. “Jeez, you are, aren’t you?” “Am not,” I mumble. I don’t like the sound of that.

There are so many amazing things that could be said about this book, but in the end, I’d just tell you that you really have to read it. Thanks a Lot, John LeClair is the best feel good book out there. It’s a happy book about two gay boys dealing with high school drama, the reality of the hockey community and its relationship to the lgbt community. This book will be so important for gay teens who think and believe that they don’t belong in the sports community. This book will show them that they can achieve anything, all their dreams, and find love at that too.

If you’re a fan of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli then I really think you’ll love this book. It’s the same HAPPY lovely feeling only more focused on sports. If you want a cute book to lift your spirits, one that deals with important and relatable topics, then this book is for you. You won’t regret a second of it.

Interview with Johanna Parkhurst

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Author Website | Twitter

  1. What inspired you to write Thanks a Lot, John LeClair?

It sort of happened by accident. I wrote Here’s to You, Zeb Pike, and in the first drafts I created a very minor character named Emmitt LaPoint. As the book grew and changed, Emmitt became more and more important to the plot, and eventually it became clear he had a story of his own which needed to be told.

Emmitt’s story feels very unfinished at the end of Here’s to You, Zeb Pike. Does Emmitt ever come out? If so, does he keep playing hockey? None of those questions get answered in HTYZP, and that’s largely because I always knew those questions had to be answered from Emmitt’s point of view and in his words. Since HTYZP is told from Dusty’s perspective, I was sort of forced by my characters into writing Emmitt his own book. Not that I complained. Emmitt has always been one of my favorite characters to write, and Thanks a Lot, John LeClair is a book that’s incredibly close to my heart.

The struggles Emmitt faces in this book are huge.  No current or retired NHL player has ever come out, and that fact weighs heavily on Emmitt as he tries to figure out if the hockey world can accept him for who he is. I’m not going to lie: in the back of my head, I always thought a NHL player would come out by the time this book was finally released. It’s been years since I first started outlining this novel. The entire time I was writing and signing contracts and doing edits I always half-assumed by the time the story saw print it would be less relevant. But here we are, nearly at the book’s release, and we’re still waiting.

I hope we’re not waiting much longer. I hope everyone who reads this book checks out the You Can Play project, an amazing organization that supports LGBTQ athletes. They’re doing impressive and very important work.

  1. I really love that we get to read the letters that Emmitt wrote to John LeClair throughout his life, how did you come up with that idea?

In Here’s to You, Zeb Pike, every chapter opens with a flashback to an earlier time period in Dusty’s life. I wanted to do something similar for this book, but I wanted Emmitt’s “flashbacks” to be unique to his character. One of my favorite things about Emmitt is his endearing nerdiness. The idea that he would obsessively write letters to his lifelong hero and never send any of them seemed just endearingly nerdy enough to fit his personality.

  1. If there is just one thing you want your readers to take with them after having read your book, what would you want that to be?

There are lots of things, but I think the most important ones circle around acceptance and trust.  I also hope this book gets readers thinking about what success really looks like and how we define what success means to us as individuals.

  1. Do you have any book recommendations for fans of your book, as in, if they loved Thanks a Lot, John LeClair they’d also love … ?

I’m biased, but if you like these characters, I’d say you should definitely read Here’s to You, Zeb Pike. It’s the companion to this novel, and it tells the story of how Dusty first came to Vermont and met Emmitt. If you like stories about LGBTQ hockey players trying to navigate life, definitely check out Mia Sigert’s Jerkbait. I’ve just started reading it, and I’m so impressed. Siegert’s writing is brilliant and her character creation is haunting.

Also: if you are 18+ and like webcomics, go investigate the series Check Please! It’s got college hockey players, LGBTQ characters, pie, and some truly excellent hockey humor. You won’t be sorry.

Thank you so much Johanna for answering my questions, it was lovely seeing your answers. Now readers, are you excited for this book? You just have to read it. It’s a perfect read for your holiday break.

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