Having long wondered what lives beyond the ice shelf, nineteen-year-old mermaid Ersel learns of the life she wants when she rescues and befriends Ragna, a shield-maiden stranded on the merfolk’s glacier. But when Ersel’s childhood friend and suitor catches them together, he gives Ersel a choice: Say goodbye to Ragna or face justice at the hands of the glacier’s brutal king.
Determined to forge a different fate, Ersel seeks help from the divine Loki. But such deals are never straightforward, and the outcome sees her exiled from the only home and protection she’s known. To save herself from perishing in the barren, underwater wasteland and be reunited with the human she’s come to love, Ersel must try to outsmart the God of Lies.
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Hi everyone! I’m Julia Ember and I’m really excited to be on the blog today as part of the Virtual Book Tour for my new release, The Seafarer’s Kiss.
The Seafarer’s Kiss is my second novel. It is a bisexual, Norse retelling of the Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen. The main character, Ersel, longs to escape her harsh arctic sea world where she is expected to choose a mate and bear children. When she meets, Ragna, a Viking shield maiden stranded on the ice-shelf near her home, she learns of another way of life. But when her former best friend and suitor catches them together, he gives Ersel a choice: abandon Ragna or face justice at the hands of their tyrannical king. Ersel decides to make her own rules instead, and makes a deal with Loki.
1) Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing come from?
My mom used to read to me all the time when I was a kid. She would record audiotapes while we read together, so that I could listen to them later as well. Even though I once told a first grade teacher I didn’t need to learn to read as my mom would do it for me, my mom’s strategy did eventually pay off! I started finishing the books we read together on my own. My love of writing began when one of my best friends moved away. We had a collection of model horses, and we played with them together, inventing personalities for each one. When she moved, we wanted our ‘herd’ to keep in touch. I used to write multiple page letters to her, with mini-letters from the perspective of the horses.
2) What were your goals when you started this book? Do you think you met them?
I think my goals for the book evolved as I wrote it. At the beginning, my goals were simply to tell a good story, and create a Viking retelling. However, as the characters evolved, I found myself really wanting to make a point about women’s autonomy over their bodies. In the book, Ersel’s society wants the mermaids to mate and reproduce. They ostracize women, like Ersel, who want something else. A lot of the narrative involves her fight against that harmful mind-set.
3) Have you ever co-written with someone before?
I haven’t! It’s something I’ve thought about, but I think my own writing process is too erratic – plus I’m a control freak. I think if I were ever to co-write something, it would need to be a dual POV book, where we were both writing a different POV in close first.
4) Tell us about your favorite character in a book (yours or someone else’s).
I think it would be almost impossible to pick a favourite character from all the books I’ve ever read. I couldn’t even narrow it down to a top 10! From my own work, Ersel is my favourite so far. I think this is because she is a lot like me, so I have a soft spot for her. She’s bisexual and fat. She’s also a Slytherin, who sometimes makes rash and questionable decisions, then regrets them later. I admire her independence.
5) List five foods you can’t live without.
Chocolate, Pad Thai, Naan Bread, Frozen Yogurt, Diet Coke (this might as well be its own food group for me!)
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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.