The Tiger’s Watch (Ashes of Gold #1)
by Julia Ember
Publication Date: August 22, 2017
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
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.
Julia Ember – Why I write what I write
Although my opinion as an adult is changing, teen me thought that the modern Western world was boring. As an adult, I definitely recognise the value of peaceful living, modern technology, the safe office job, medicine … and on some level I think I knew those things were good as a teen, I just had no interest in reading about them. Instead, I longed to inhabit a world full of magic and horses, or live on a space station far away.
I’ll freely admit that my early teen years were not the happiest of my life. I was bullied for my weight. I fought constantly with my mom over my decision to give up religion. I hadn’t yet discovered the things I was good at – I didn’t get into singing until my last few years of high school, and my writing was confined to fanfiction that none of my offline friends read. For me, reading books where I could escape my world wasn’t just exciting, it was essential. I found reading about other worlds an extremely cathartic experience. I think when authors write for teenagers, our perception of what teenagers like will always be coloured by what we were like as teens. Obviously, trends evolve and especially with science fiction, our perception of advanced technology definitely shifts! But I think when we start plotting stories and think about the core characters and how teens will respond to them, we almost always write for the teens we were. For me, writing for myself as a teen involves second worlds and outcasts. I write the type of worlds I would have disappeared into: primarily historical fantasy, with a splash of magic. Most of my main characters tend to be social outcasts for one reason or another. Either their dreams are too big, or they’re shy and reserved.
I also write about primarily queer characters. My interest in romance of any kind developed pretty late. I wasn’t interested in boys or girls until I was at least fifteen. But when my first crush struck, it was on my female friend. She was anti-establishment and had a tattoo, and I thought she was stunning. I spent the rest of my high school years suspecting I was a lesbian. I didn’t figure out until college that I was actually bisexual – and I lay that at the door of the frankly terrible selection of boys at my high school! In my fiction, a lot of my teen characters know they are queer but are still figuring out their exact identities. In The Tiger’s Watch, this “figuring it out” is very apparent in the character of Pharo, Tashi’s best friend. Pharo knows he isn’t attracted to cisgender males, but he experiences attraction to women and genderfluid individuals. He isn’t sure yet how to define his identity. In my first novel, Unicorn Tracks, the bisexual protagonist Mnemba is shocked when she first falls for Kara, the female love interest in the novella. As a teen, I read hardly any queer fiction. The books I did read, I discovered in my late teens, and these were overwhelmingly m/m adult romance. I would have loved the availability of books about queer teens now and I needed books where the MC was still questioning.
Originally from Chicago, Julia Ember now resides in Edinburgh, Scotland. She spends her days working in the book trade and her nights writing teen fantasy novels. Her hobbies include riding horses, starting far too many craft projects, PokemonGo and looking after her city-based menagerie of pets with names from Harry Potter. Luna Lovegood and Sirius Black the cats currently run her life.
Julia is a polyamorous, bisexual writer. She regularly takes part in events for queer teens, including those organised by the Scottish Booktrust and LGBT Youth Scotland. A world traveler since childhood, she has now visited more than sixty countries. Her travels inspire the fantasy worlds she creates, though she populates them with magic and monsters.
Julia began her writing career at the age of nine, when her short story about two princesses and their horses won a contest in Touch magazine. In 2016, she published her first novel, Unicorn Tracks, which also focused on two girls and their equines, albeit those with horns. Her second novel, The Seafarer’s Kiss will be released by Interlude Press in May 2017. The book was heavily influenced by Julia’s postgraduate work in Medieval Literature at The University of St. Andrews. It is now responsible for her total obsession with beluga whales.
In August 2017, her third novel and the start of her first series, Tiger’s Watch, will come out with Harmony Ink Press. In writing Tiger’s Watch, Julia has taken her love of cats to a new level.
- Two (2) winners will receive a signed paperback of The Tiger’s Watch by Julia Embers (INT)