We’re so pleased to welcome author Julia Ember to TNA today on the tour for her new novel, The Seafarer’s Kiss. Julia’s sharing a bit about her writing process with us today, as well as a great giveaway, so be sure to check out the Rafflecopter widget below for entry details.
I often get asked about my writing process and the evolution of my stories. It’s difficult to talk about in a short interview format because it involves so many steps, so I wanted to write a guest post about the full process.
For me, most of my ideas come when I travel. Sometimes, like when I wrote my first book, Unicorn Tracks, I’m inspired by a particular place or set of new experiences. Other times, its simply the act of getting out of my routine, away from the stress of work, and giving myself space to observe people. Although Seafarer’s Kiss was largely inspired by Norse and Anglo-Saxon literature that I studied during my postgraduate degree, the spark of the story idea came when I visited the Scottish Highlands for a week. The mountainous setting couldn’t have been more different from Ersel’s undersea world.
I write first drafts in a flurry. I am very much what writers call a “pantser” when it comes to my first drafts. Generally speaking, my first draft is short and incomplete. My draft for Seafarer’s Kiss was approximately 15,000 words long (published word count is about 60,000) – and it was simply a collection of powerful scenes that came to me when I thought about the characters. I’ve now written three books this way – where I write the scenes that I just imagine, then go back, plot, and figure out how my characters got from A to B. My second draft is all about connecting the dots.
Then, in my third draft, I give the characters history and motivation. I go through the second draft, and try to figure out not only how the characters got from A to B, but why. The third draft for me is usually when my stories move from being plot driven to character driven. In Seafarer’s Kiss, the third draft was when I figured out most of the interpersonal dynamics between Ersel and her former best friend, Havamal.
As I effectively write three rough drafts, adding layers at each pass, my editing process tends to be shorter than many writers who write full length rough drafts from the get go. I usually take a few weeks to go through draft three, and work on word choice and line flow. Then I send the file to critique partners and wait for their feedback!
Recently, I’ve added another step and also send my manuscripts to sensitivity readers before they go on submission. I think that the earlier you catch potential sensitivity issues, the greater the chance that no trace of the problem will remain in later drafts.
About the Book
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.
Turquoise oil formed a perfumed cloud around me. It smelled sweet as baby kelp and sounded like the whisper of a summer ocean I could barely remember. When it diffused, I looked down and my heart leapt into my throat. My fins and tail were back, but they were different, enhanced. Before, my scales had been shades of royal blue, but now beautiful white and lilac scales were mixed among the palest shade of sky blue. My tail gleamed and shimmered like a pearl held to the light. Each fin was tapered and translucent and looked as delicate as the softest sea-silk. But I could feel the strength in them.
This tail would forever mark me as different, special. No one else under the ocean had such scales. Would that make me something to treasure or something to hunt?
Loki was bribing me, trying their hardest to make me feel gratitude, as if I could forget the horrors of the past months. I wouldn’t let myself be drawn into their snare again. I would take this gift and use it, but I would never agree to do anything for the trickster.
Wearing a smile that stretched my jaw, I flipped, pivoted, and spun, relishing the feeling of my nimble tail and streamlined fins. The storm above had cleared, and sunlight filtered through the water, making creatures from dancing light. The ocean stretched out around me, blue and endless.
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.
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