Eric Smith

YA Fantasy, LGBTQ+


THE NAVIGATOR’S TOUCH (September 2018)


Originally from Chicago, Julia Ember now resides in Edinburgh, Scotland. She lives with partner and their city based menagerie of pets with Harry Potter themed names. Luna Lovegood and Sirius Black the cats currently run her life. Her novel, THE SEAFARER’S KISS, was published by Interlude Press in May 2017. It’s sequel, THE NAVIGATOR’S TOUCH, will be published in September. She is also the author of several published novellas and short stories.

I grew up writing. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t scribbling stories on something, or writing fanfiction for one of my favourite shows. In college, I studied English with a minor in Creative Writing. Initially, I focused on historical fiction, due to my undying love of Medieval, Old English and Viking literature. But I soon realised that I loved those works for the types of stories they told — feats of heroism, complicated villains, the aesthetic of the Viking world — rather than the historical reality of the worlds that shaped them. I moved into writing fantasy from there. I took a break from writing creatively for a few years during graduate school. When I first got back into it, I started with Middle Grade and wrote a fairly terrible, cliched manuscript that never saw publication. Then, I wrote a fantasy YA novella called Unicorn Tracks, which I sold to a small publisher. I sold my first novel, The Seafarer’s Kiss, a year later, unagented to Interlude Press, via a pitch contest. I signed with my agent, Eric Smith, a few months later when I realised I really needed an advocate to help me navigate the publishing minefield. The sequel to The Seafarer’s Kiss comes out in September this year. Eric and I getting ready to go on submission with a brand new project!

I was an agency intern for Folio Literary Management and worked for three years as a Sales Development Manager for a large book distribution firm in the UK. Pitching and developing high concept hooks is my forte! I studied Medieval Literature, from Old English and Old Norse texts through to late 13th century England at graduate level.

I was lucky that very early on in my career, a few more experienced authors took me under their wing and helped me navigate my first book, finding an agent and figuring out how to market myself. I still really benefit from those friendships and I cherish those people. I really want to pay that back by helping someone else!

I want to be your gif godmother and your cheerleader! I was lucky enough to have published authors who did this for me, and I want to give back. I’ve been through the full publishing process and worked in the book trade for years. I can give advice about all stages.

I’m looking for a story that starts with a bang, and grips me to the last page. I’m really passionate about fantasy and historical! Send me your morally grey villains, your sassy animal sidekicks and your f/f romances.


  • Contemporary
  • Fantasy
  • Historical
  • #ownvoices
  • Urban/Contemporary Fantasy

I like high stakes and horrible villains. Battles, epic quests, enemies to lovers. I LOVE retellings as long as they are fantasy or space opera. I’m a hard sell for the younger end of YA and prefer books with crossover adult appeal rather than MG crossover.




  • Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)
  • Skype or phone call
  • Freestyle in chat

I am pretty informal with my critique partners and I want to develop a similar, collaborative rapport with my mentee. I want my mentee to feel comfortable asking me anything. I will read your manuscript thoroughly and leave detailed in-text comments. I’ll also want to chat with you on skype or hangouts about big-picture things and talk about possible solutions together. From my own experience working with an editor, I think the best solutions to problems in manuscripts often come when you brainstorm with another person. I will always encourage and support your ideas, but I want you be active in our editorial process together! I’ll also read subsequent drafts until we both think the book is ready.

Someone with a great work ethic and a sense of humour! Publishing is a tough business; I want to work with someone who can look at it with humour and is invested in their writing for the long haul.

For Fantasy/Historical:

I adore stories where I’m quite sure who to root for. Give me your sympathetic villains and your flawed protagonists. I love characters who exist in the moral grey area. Dark retellings are an evergreen favourite of mine. I would especially love to see retellings of some lesser known classic stories, i.e. Beowulf, or those that draw on mythology outside the Western European canon.

I am a history nerd and will devour your YA Historical! I am interested in all time periods, but can help with fact checking and language for Medieval European. I especially love stories that place literature and libraries at the height of conspiracy.

Queer women! If you have written a fantasy or a historical with a central romantic pairing between two queer ladies, I want it. Bonus points if they are rival warlords or in some way in an enemies to lovers scenario.

For Contemporary:

* Anything about gamers. I sometimes joke that I am much more famous for my online gaming career than I will ever be as an author. I have a tumultuous history leading clans on World of Warcraft, Evony and many others. I am here for your gamer stories. The nerdier the better.

* Horse stories! I love horses and I’ve had my cob pony for 17 years. Send me your heart-warming YA contemporary about showjumping or eventing and I will probably cry. This is my only exception to the MG-crossover vs adult rule.

* I do not want stories about ancient, immortal cisgender male characters who seduce naive young women. The immortal/vampire/fae trope can be done well, but if the female character isn’t super savvy or powerful in her own right, it’s not likely to be for me.

* Anything with the Bury Your Gays trope. Your queer characters don’t all have to have epic journeys of love or end up together, but please, don’t send me stories where they all die.

I read so much that my favourites are constantly evolving and I always feel a bit conscious that I can’t remember favourites from many years past when questioned! Here are some books I’ve read in the last few years that I adored:

* Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
* Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao
* An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
* And I Darken by Kiersten White
* Court of Fives by Kate Elliot
* Traitor Angels by Ann Blankman
* Things a Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls
* The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie
* Timekeeper by Tara Sim
* Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor
* The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James