Sunday Street Team: Interview with Julia Ember

Interview with Julia Ember,
author of Unicorn Tracks
Released April 21st 2016

 


downloadAbout 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. 

Website: http://www.julia-ember.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/juliaemberwrites/
GR: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13734129.Julia_Ember
Twitter:  @jules_chronicle
Email: Julia_ember@yahoo.com
Pre-Purchase Link: https://www.harmonyinkpress.com/books/unicorn-tracks-by-julia-ember-363-b

The Interview…

You’ve traveled a lot! What is one country you would like to re-visit?

(Julia) I’d really like to go back to China. I visited Hong Kong and Beijing when I travelled there before, but wasn’t able to explore the interior or get to any rural places. From what I’ve read and seen in travel publications, going to the interior is almost like visiting an entirely different place.What is the hardest part of the writing process for you?(Julia) Probably turning my first draft into the second. I write pretty quick first drafts and tend to just word vomit into my computer! But then cleaning that manuscript up into something I wouldn’t be ashamed to show my critique partners can take me some time.

Did you want to be an author from a young age?(Julia) I actually wrote my first ‘published’ short story when I was eight! I submitted it for a contest in a magazine for a girls’ club I was a member in that was similar to Girl Scouts. It won third place and the magazine printed it! I think from then on, I always had dreams of writing a novel.

What other legendary creatures would you like to write about?

(Julia) There are quite a few mythical beasts in Unicorn Tracks besides unicorns! I’ve got a book coming out in 2017 that is about magical tigers and I’m currently querying a project about mermaids! I’d really like to write something about dragons as they are also favourites of mine!

Favourite book in the Harry Potter series?

(Julia) Prisoner of Azkaban, definitely. I read it over and over when I was a kid. I used to be able to quotes all the Marauders’ Insults to Professor Snape via the Map!

What would your patronus be?

(Julia) I’d like to say something amazing like a phoenix, but in reality probably a house cat. I’m pretty lazy and hedonistic at times.

Who are some of your favourite authors?

(Julia) So many! Tamora Pierce, JKR, Sarah J Maas, Melinda Salisbury, Ken Follett, Justina Ireland, Suki Fleet, Emily Skrutskie, Janet Taylor .. I’ve been really impressed with so many of the other books I’ve read that are coming out this year as well. I think 2016 is going to be a really strong year for YA.

Do you have a quote or saying that is special to you?

(Julia)I’ve never been much of a quotes person, but I do like poetry! One of my enduring favourites is the opening dedication from Faust because I think it so perfectly captures the feeling of longing and anxiety tinged with hope for something better (kind of a downer, but I’ve loved it for years).

I feel the spell of long-forgotten yearning,
For that serene and solemn spirit realm,
And like an Aeolian harp my murmuring song,
lets its uncertain tones float through the air.

All about the book…

25231892After a savage attack drives her from her home, sixteen-year-old Mnemba finds a
place in her cousin Tumelo’s successful safari business, where she quickly excels as a guide. Surrounding herself with nature and the mystical animals inhabiting the savannah not only allows Mnemba’s tracking skills to shine, it helps her to hide from the terrible memories that haunt her.


Mnemba is employed to guide Mr. Harving and his daughter, Kara, through the wilderness as they study Unicorns. The young women are drawn to each other, despite that fact that Kara is betrothed. During their research, they discover a conspiracy by a group of poachers to capture the Unicorns and exploit their supernatural strength to build a railway. Together, they must find a way to protect the creatures Kara adores while resisting the love they know they can never indulge.

Click here to add it to your Goodreads TBR

Enter to win an awesome prize pack, including swag and a signed ARC of Unicorn Tracks! 

– Signed copy of Unicorn Tracksfullsizerender-5-300x293
– Swag incl. Postcard and Bookmark
– African Tribal Pattern Headband
– Unicorn Plush
– Millie Marotta’s Wild Savannah Adult Colouring book with Pencils — Author will colour and sign the first page! ❤
– Artisan Spiced Chocolate — Mnemba’s favourite.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Interview with Emily Skrutskie

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Emily Skrutskie, author of The Abyss Surrounds Us. This is the her debut novel and even though I read it a month 13435165ago I am still riding the high from this book. If you would like to read my full review you can find it here. It’s a sci-fi dystopian about genetically engineered sea monsters, pirates and discovering what you’re really made of. I really recommend getting your hands on a copy and enjoying this thrill ride!

From Goodreads:

For Cassandra Leung, bossing around sea monsters is just the family business. She’s been a Reckoner trainer-in-training ever since she could walk, raising the genetically-engineered beasts to defend ships as they cross the pirate-infested NeoPacific. But when the pirate queen Santa Elena swoops in on Cas’s first solo mission and snatches her from the bloodstained decks, Cas’s dream of being a full-time trainer seems dead in the water.

There’s no time to mourn. Waiting for her on the pirate ship is an unhatched Reckoner pup. Santa Elena wants to take back the seas with a monster of her own, and she needs a proper trainer to do it. She orders Cas to raise the pup, make sure he imprints on her ship, and, when the time comes, teach him to fight for the pirates. If Cas fails, her blood will be the next to paint the sea.

But Cas has fought pirates her entire life. And she’s not about to stop.

Click here to add to it your TBR

24790901I have to ask, where did the inspiration for The Abyss Surround Us come from? 

It came from all over, really. The idea for TASU coalesced on a bus ride that went through Philad
elphia, and as I looked out at the shipyards there, I started imagining monsters alongside the boats. I’d wanted to write another pirate book, and I wanted to write something involving the ocean, and the first inklings of TASU were the collision of those notions at that moment.

What sort of research did you have to do?

Lots of biology research to construct the Reckoners, especially since I was trying to justify growing an animal from two hundred pounds to several hundred tons in the span of about three months. I also researched boats, the tactics used by modern pirates, and even checked star charts for over a hundred years in the future to make sure all the constellations mentioned in a certain scene would be visible at that time of year in that part of the Pacific.

Would you be a Reckoner trainer? If you were what type of Reckoner would you train? 

Absolutely! As a lifelong whale lover, I’d love to work with cetoids.

What was the hardest scene to write?

The scene where Cas watches the crew train in the Slew was the hardest for me to break. It was a late addition that came after the book had been acquired, so I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to get it right the first time. I ended up actually physically acting my way through it to get my mind right.

Are any of your characters based on people you know?

Can I pretend like I know Beyoncé? Because if so, then yes, Santa Elena is based on someone I know.

Do you relate to Cas the most?

Since I write from inside her head, it’s difficult not to relate to her! But I also relate to Swift a lot, as someone with blue eyes and bad hair who makes questionable life choices.

As soon as I finished I had to make sure there was going to be a sequel; how many books will there be in the series?

TASU was planned as a two book series from the start!

What is one thing you wish you could go back and tell your pre-published self?

It doesn’t change anything! Writing stays exactly the same—butt in chair, eyes on screen, fingers on keyboard. Keep doing it.

Any advice for aspiring authors?

The number one way to shoot yourself in the foot is to feel like you’re owed something. That creates expectations, and when your expectations aren’t met, you get upset for no good reason. Keep working, believe in your work, and let it surprise you when other people do too.

Who are some of your favourite/inspirational authors? 

Maggie Stiefvater, Leigh Bardugo, and Victoria Schwab are my holy trinity.

Outside of writing, how do you like to spend your time?

MOVIES. Watching them, analyzing them, dreaming of the day I get to help make them.

 

Thank you so much Emily for agreeing to this interview. I had a lot of fun coming up with questions but even more fun reading your answers! I’m really impressed and inspired by your dedication to research, and fight scenes. Your writing has a great flow and I have a new appreciation for that star-lit scene. It was nice to get to know the girl behind The Abyss Surrounds Us, and I can’t wait for book 2! Happy writing!

An Interview with Owlcrate

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I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Korrina from Owlcrate, to get a bit of a behind the scenes glimpse into the her life.
She was kind enough to find time in her busy schedule and even left me with a coupon code to share with you all to receive 10% off your first order!

I have always wondered, what inspired you to start Owlcrate?
Korrina: Robert and I have both wanted to start our own business for many years but nothing ever felt quite right. We spent a lot of 2014 daydreaming about business, reading a lot of great business books, and listening to inspiring podcasts. In November of 2014, we decided we really needed to put something into action so we took a week off from our retail jobs to hash out ideas.

Where did you come up with the idea for a YA book themed box?
Korrina: We had begun to hear about subscription boxes, and had subscribed to a couple ourselves, and thought that it was a really fun business model. We also share a huge passion for books and reading, so it came naturally to combine the two together! I was already an active member in the YA community, so that’s the demographic we wanted to reach.

Can you tell us a little about the process it took from idea to fruition?
Korrina: Honestly, everything happened really fast. We spent the entire week brainstorming the concept of the business and what we wanted to accomplish. We decided we wanted to launch in February of 2015, and we just worked on building the website, the box, and sourcing fun items for our first few boxes.

What was the hardest part?
Korrina: The hardest part was just finding a way to balance everything. We were still working full-time at our other jobs, working on OwlCrate in the evenings and on our days off, and taking a week off every month to pack and ship all of the boxes.

Wow! That’s a lot of work and dedication, were you ever discouraged?
Korrina: We’ve been extremely lucky in that our subscribers and fans are so incredibly supportive of us, and have been from the very beginning. We’ve found that whenever something discouraging arises, we can communicate that to our followers and their support gets us through whatever is going on.

Each crate is amazing, seems like you must have an army of Owlcrate recruits, how many are on your team?
Korrina: It’s currently still just the two of us handling everything. We’ve had to hire a team of incredible people to help pack our boxes each month, but all other aspects of OwlCrate are handled by Robert and I. We will need to hire someone to help out soon though.

That’s impressive! Any words of wisdom/advice for other bookish entrepreneurs?
Korrina: Just start something. No matter what it is, just begin. We held off on our dreams for so many years because we felt like it had to be perfect before launching it. But we fully believe in launching something, and tweaking it as you go. So many people spend too much time worrying and never actually begin.

That is some really good advice, there never really is a ‘perfect’ time. This is a bit of a ‘chicken or the egg’ questions but.. What comes first for each crate, the book or the theme?
Korrina: The book always comes first. I spend a lot of time reading advanced copies of books, and when one really stands out to me, I then think of a theme that book could fit within. Then all of the goodies come next!

It sounds like a lot of fun, and work, to put together. Is there a crate that has been your favourite to curate?
Korrina: This is very tricky! Each crate has required so much energy and hard work, and I love them all. We were particularly proud of our Diversity box though. Being able to show our support of diverse books means a lot to us. And then to have the shipping of the box coincide with the USA making gay marriage legal across the country…it was just a really beautiful coincidence, and we’re happy we were all able to celebrate that together.

I didn’t know that! That is a pretty cool coincidence. What is it like working with authors and creators/artists?
Korrina: Honestly, it’s incredible! It’s one of my absolute favourite parts of the business. Supporting small business has always been important to me, and the fact that I can now do that on such a large-scale is amazing. It’s been a real blessing getting to know the authors, the publishing companies, and all of the businesses/artists we work with.

Congratulations on your first year Owlcrate anniversary! Looking back, what is one thing you wish you knew before you started? / What is one thing you would go back and tell past you?
Korrina: We’ve had an incredibly lucky and successful year, so we wouldn’t want to change anything about OwlCrate’s journey. I guess one thing we’d probably want to tell our past selves is to not be so afraid. To follow our guts and trust that things will work out.

I would say it has been a huge success; subscribers are always so excited to receive their boxes, so much so that I have to avoid social media before I receive mine so the surprise isnt spoiled!
Do you have plans to expand in the future?

Korrina: Yes, we are working on a few top-secret projects that we can’t wait to unleash on the world! We can’t say much more than that at this point, but exciting things are coming!

Really?! That is so exciting, I can’t wait to see what you guys do next!
I think subscribers would love to know a little bit more about the girl behind Owlcrate, I know I do.
What book got you into reading?

Korrina: I can vividly remember receiving a copy of ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ from my Grandmother when I was nine years old. That’s the first book I really remember making a difference. And then I also remember the moment I fell in love with YA, when I stumbled upon a copy of ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ when I was in the eighth grade. I couldn’t have found that book at a better time in my life and it’s always mean so much to me.

What is your favourite author/book/genre to read?
Korrina: At the moment, I’d say my favourite authors are Rainbow Rowell and V.E. Schwab. Rainbow’s books just fill me with so much immense happiness, and Victoria’s books are so utterly unique that I just read them in total awe. I’m also SUPER obsessed with The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater. I love books that have a subtle creepiness to them, but aren’t horror or paranormal. It’s hard to describe, but any book that makes you feel like you’re walking through a cemetery in the middle of Autumn is right up my alley.

I have to admit I haven’t started The Raven Cycle but I will soon! I swear.
Do you have a favourite fictional character(s)?

Korrina: Ooo there are so many! Cath and Levi from ‘Fangirl’. ALL of the characters from ‘The Raven Cycle’. ALL of the characters from ‘The Lunar Chronicles’. And of course the characters from ‘Harry Potter’. You can’t really top them.

Then I must ask, which Hogwarts House are you in?
Korrina: I am a proud Slytherin!

When you aren’t working on Owlcrate or reading you are likely to be found….?
Korrina: To be honest, this past year I haven’t had much time for anything besides OwlCrate and reading haha. We’re both homebodies, so we love spending time with our friends playing board games and watching films. But we also love love love to travel. We were particularly happy to have visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida this past November.

Korrina, thank you so much for doing this interview with me. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did and I can’t wait to see more from you guys! P.S. The March book choice? A+! I mean I have been debating on buying this book for the last book weeks, it is like you read my mind. 

I really enjoyed learning about Korrina and Robert’s journey as well as how the magic happens for each crate. I cannot thank them enough for the interview and for making such a perfectly bookish product for me to enjoy. And for your pleasure she has left me with a 10% off coupon for your first order! I will leave a link to their website down below and I really encourage you to check it out. Every month is something a different, the genre varies and the swag is always fantastic. Korrina and Robert really do an amazing job creating a harmonious theme for each crate. Personally I have really enjoyed the tea and the reading journal they sent out but there’s really something for everyone. The only down side is you will be addicted!

Owlcrate website: https://www.owlcrate.com/
Follow them on Instagram and Twitter: @owlcrate
Code for 10% off your first order!! ‘JESS10’