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.
Welcome to the Sunday Street Team guys! I’m so excited to be a part of this, and I always find myself coming across some amazing books. This one is no exception. This past Tuesday, Unicorn Tracks was released and I have heard nothing but amazing things. I had the chance to ask Julia Ember some questions about her first novel Unicorn Tracks, and she had some fantastic answers.
Be sure to check out Unicorn Tracks and fall in love with the story like so many others. Plus that cover is perfect.
Thanks Julia for answering some questions!
What made you go in the direction you did with this book?
That’s a great question because there were a lot of determining factors! When I started writing, I had this vague idea that I wanted to tell a story about safaris and unicorns, that I wanted it to be queer, and that I wanted it to have a happy ending. The HFN ending in particular was important to me, because I think there are so many queer books for YA audiences that are tragic in some way. I’d also just gone through a painful breakup and I think that also influenced me to write a happy book, when most of my other manuscripts are quite dark. I wanted to write something that made me feel better. (My upcoming series is definitely of the dark and gritty variety). Once I started delving into Mnemba’s world, my experience of traveling in East Africa became the top influence on the text.
Who has been an influence growing up? For example, Peter S Beagle really shaped my childhood and love of unicorns.
I’d have to say my Dad. So much of what I write gets inspired by travel and this innate sense of wanderlust it sometimes seems is in my bones. I definitely got that from my Dad. I’ve been able to visit over 60 countries and I’m only 26. If I hadn’t visited as many places, I’m not sure I would be able to conceive of fantasy worlds that are quite as unusual. None of my books take place in Western European-influenced settings.
Have you faced any negative feedback about the love in the story? If so, how do you handle those situations?
People have been overwhelmingly positive about the lesbian element of the story – I’ve had a lot of early readers say that they loved reading a sweet romance with two women! That being said, I have had a little bit of criticism that the love develops too fast. When the book is actually released, I do expect to encounter some homophobic readers who may bash the book for being f/f. Luckily, the synopsis and promotional materials are absolutely abundantly clear that Unicorn Tracks is a lesbian fantasy romance, so no one should be surprised!
If you could go back and tell your past self one thing about publishing a book, what would it be?
Make a separate submissions inbox and don’t link it to your phone or ipad. I have one now for projects I’m querying, but when I submitted Unicorn Tracks, I used my main email. I was constantly anxious and refreshing it to see if anyone had replied. Publishing is a long and crazy waiting game. With the submission inbox I have now, I only allow myself to check it once a day. It really cuts down on my anxiety levels.
If you could recommend one book to any of your fans, what book would it be and why?
One? ONE? I’m not even sure how to answer that. I will say that the best YA book I read in 2015 was The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury – so I recommend that!
If you could sit down with any one character in your book for lunch, and learn even more about them, who would it be and why?
From Unicorn Tracks, definitely Tumelo. He’s Mnemba’s insane cousin who runs the safari business. He’s got a larger than life personality and is always good for a laugh.
What can we expect from you in the next few years?
I’ve got a YA Fantasy series contracted! The Tiger’s Watch is the first book and it will be released in summer 2017. I’m really really excited about the series. When I queried it, I described it as The Winner’s Curse meets Under a Painted Sky with a Non-Binary protagonist. It’s an epic spy-thriller fantasy set in a Bhutanese inspired monastery with a magical tiger.
Anything you’d like to say to your fans?
Find the people who make you the happiest in the world and whatever the odds, don’t let them go!
Originally from Chicago, 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. 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.