Hi everyone! I’m so excited to feature Julia Ember’s latest The Tiger’s Watch! I loved The Seafarer’s Kiss and I can’t wait to read this one. There’s also a giveaway up for grabs so make sure to enter below.
About the book
The Tiger’s Watch by Julia Ember
Releasing August 22nd 2017
Sixteen-year-old Tashi has spent their life training as a inhabitor, a soldier who spies and kills using a bonded animal. When the capital falls after a brutal siege, Tashi flees to a remote monastery to hide. But the invading army turns the monastery into a hospital, and Tashi catches the eye of Xian, the regiment’s fearless young commander.
Tashi spies on Xian’s every move. In front of his men, Xian seems dangerous, even sadistic, but Tashi discovers a more vulnerable side of the enemy commander—a side that draws them to Xian.
When their spying unveils that everything they’ve been taught is a lie, Tashi faces an impossible choice: save their country or the boy they’re growing to love. Though Tashi grapples with their decision, their volatile bonded tiger doesn’t question her allegiances. Katala slaughters Xian’s soldiers, leading the enemy to hunt her. But an inhabitor’s bond to their animal is for life—if Katala dies, so will Tashi.
Use any five words to describe your novel.
Genderfluid spy, badass tiger guardian.
The Tiger’s Watch is the first in a new fantasy series, what can readers expect about the world-building and can you tell us a little about it?
The Tiger’s Watch is a second world fantasy, but has lots of analogues to Bhutan. I did a lot of research on Bhutan, and was lucky enough to visit at the end of 2014. A lot of the geography, architectural style and fauna, as well as some mythology, has its roots in the research I did. I hope that I’ve done it some kind of justice, but Bhutan is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been and I think it might take a writer with more skill than I have to truly capture it!
The magical system in the book is a combination of shifting and a sort of warg/possession state. In Thim, children are recruited from orphanages and poor families to join the inhabitor’s academy in the capital. These children aren’t given a choice, but they are promised a life free from hardship, an education and a chance to matter to the military. It’s a double-edged sword. The children are trained in magic, spells that bind them to other living creatures. Once they reach the age of eight, they are brought into the forest outside the city and left there until an animal selects them. Once this occurs, they are able to communicate with the creature, as well as access their memories and live inside their bodies effectively. The double-edged sword part comes because their lifespans are also tied to the animals. I’ve always been fascinated by shifter novels, but I wanted a new spin on it where the character remained entirely human. The animals in the book have a lot of influence and personality – especially Katala, Tashi’s bonded tiger.
This is also a very queer positive world. Tashi remembers coming out as genderfluid as a child. While some of their classmates didn’t understand at first, their instructors and their friends always stood up for them. In this world, people don’t question Tashi’s pronouns once they find out what they are. People are also free to be gay, bisexual, pansexual. Of the three main characters, Tashi is also pansexual. Pharo and Xian are both bisexual.
Where did you get inspiration for The Tiger’s Watch?
As I mentioned in the last question, I did get a lot of the inspiration for the world from Bhutan and my research/travels there. Probably the second greatest source of inspiration was one of my cats – who, if he could read this, would no doubt be puffing himself up right now. Despite being a tiger, Katala is actually quite a central character to the novel. I did some research on tigers as well, especially with regard to their hunting and roaming patterns. However, the actual interactions between Tashi/Katala are very much based on one of my cats. Quite wisely, few people have tigers as pets, so it’s difficult to gain an understanding of exactly how they would interact with human keepers they adored.
I think a common theme of my writing is exploring characters who aren’t entirely good or bad. I always try to incorporate this in some way into my books, because I think it’s much more realistic. Ersel in The Seafarer’s Kiss is selfish and impulsive, but ultimately very brave. Tashi is almost the opposite. They are very sweet, reserved and giving, but the flipside of that is that they don’t always act when they should and can be a bit of a coward.
You have two books releasing in 2017, how did your publishing experience differ between them?
I published with two different publishers, so I think the experience was bound to be quite different. Both of them are small presses, but they do operate quite differently. I think it would be a disservice to both of my publishers to try and compare/contrast them in terms of how they work, because they are quite different in their approaches to editing and marketing. However, by virtue of the fact it came first, I think I was able to give The Seafarer’s Kiss a lot more attention when it came to the marketing I did myself. Part of that is burn out. I’ve spoken about it in other posts, but I think as an author with several chronic illnesses, who also works fulltime, I may need to be more mindful of my own limits. One new book a year is probably a better balance for me!
What are you working on now? (If you can share!)
My agent is currently submitting two projects: a YA Space Opera and an adult contemporary romance. I can’t say much about those two projects other than I really really hope they sell!
I am also working on the sequel to The Seafarer’s Kiss. I am scheduled to deliver the second MS in the duology in October!