Here at BAMF we are always looking to shine the light on authors and their books. And what better way to do so than to hear about a book than from the author themselves? That’s why we have started our Pro Talks Feature where we interview an author about their book(s) and get the down low on characters, plot and anything else they want to share with us about their life as an author! You can find your next great read here.
About The BookUnicorn Tracks by Julia Ember
Published by Harmony Ink Press on April 21st 2016
After 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.
Today’s guest is …
Julia Ember discussing Unicorn Tracks
BAMF: Describe UNICORN TRACKS in 10 words or less.
Julia Ember: Two girls fall in love on safari while saving unicorns.
BAMF: What genre do you find yourself writing in most? Is this the same as what you read the most?
Julia Ember: I am a huge speculative reader – I’d say that about 90% of what I read is fantasy or sci-fi. This has shifted a tiny bit in recent years, as I’ve been making a proactive effort to read more contemporary LGBTQIA YA books, but still I read overwhelmingly speculative.
This preference is absolutely reflected in what I write. Unicorn Tracks is high fantasy, as are both Seafarer’s Kiss and Tiger’s Watch, my books coming out in 2017.
BAMF: What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Julia Ember: This is a tough one! I think the line between dreams and goals is so blurry when you’re a writer, since there is an element of timing and luck that comes into the success of every project. Overall, I want to write books that will reach the hands of lots and lots of LGBTQIA teens and this is the main goal I commit myself to.
In my dreams, I’d love to win a Lambda award or have a bestseller or be able to write full time.
BAMF: What was your favourite scene to write in UNICORN TRACKS?
Julia Ember: This is a timely question as I’m currently trying to figure out what to read for an event I have next week!
It’s probably a tie between two scenes. The first scene takes place under a waterfall, when Kara has decided to become a wet-tshirt temptress and ends up almost being eaten by a carnivorous mermaid. I like it because it’s full of action, sexual tension and you get to see how no-nonsense Mnemba is as a protagonist.
My other favourite is the first kiss scene. Mnemba has sexual violence in her past, so the first kiss scene in the book is pretty emotionally charged – she’s fearful and doesn’t know what to do, or how to cope with the memories that surface. Kara helps her through that.
BAMF: What advice would you give to your younger self?
Julia Ember: So, I was a fairly socially awkward kid from about age 10-15. I went through a brief period of actually being “cool” around 16 (at least by high school standards), though on reflection I think of myself as the least cool at that age.
One of the things I got teased about the most was my weight. I was always worried about being attractive and thinking that no one would love me.
Well. I’m 27 now and I’m still overweight. But, I also think of myself as attractive now. I’m polyamorous and I have both a girlfriend and a boyfriend. To my younger self, I’d say, don’t worry about being fat. You’re going to have an amazing love life. You’re going to have a good job and lots of friends. It’s going to be fine.
In a way, the character of Kara is almost like a love letter to my younger self. Kara is overweight and absolutely beautiful. Everyone in the novel thinks so. She gets a happy ending.
BAMF: Which creature was your favourite to feature in UNICORN TRACKS?
Julia Ember: Well, I do love the unicorns, but they almost have a kind of tragic beauty to them. I also really loved the mother griffin and the mermaids for the comedy elements.
BAMF: What research did you do for the setting of UNICORN TRACKS?
Julia Ember: Unicorn Tracks is a fantasy novel, but is set in a world quite similar to northern Tanzania or Kenya in the Serengeti / Masai Mara regions. I spent two weeks in Tanzania in 2006 and went to Kenya in 2010. I’ve also been on safari in three other African countries – so I took some of the experiences of my interactions with animals and wilderness from there, but in terms of geography, cultural resonance and fauna, the book is inspired quite specifically by Kenya and Tanzania.