Welcome to Bluestocking Bookworm’s very first blog tour stop, featuring The Tiger’s Watch by Julia Ember! To find out more about the rest of the tour, click on the banner above!
In the interest of full disclosure, I was supposed to have a review up as well, but my eyesight has been a little wonky this week, and I am unable to read for more than an hour at a time without getting a blinding headache. I apologize for the lack of review on this tour stop, but I assure you that a review WILL BE POSTED. And soon! Many thanks to Chapter by Chapter for allowing me to host this stop on the tour!
The Difference Between Adult and Teen Readers – A Guest Post by Julia Ember
There has been a lot of discussion on twitter in the past few months about adult readers of YA. The focus of these debates has been on both adult readers’ presence in online discourse, as well as what effect a large adult readership is having on the category itself and the books that get published. It’s a complicated topic because while YA books have historically been “for teens,” it’s impossible for publishers to overlook the economic reality that more than 55% of YA books are purchased and read by adults.
Often, the YA readership gets broken down into two simple categories “teens” and “adults,” and for me, this is always where I see the root of the problem lying. I consider teen readers to be anywhere from 12 to 18. But most 18 year olds have far more in common with people in their early twenties than they do with younger teens. Most people grow and change a lot in high school. At some point during their high school journey, teens grow into fledgling adults. However, as people mature at different rates, it’s difficult to arbitrarily assign an age to exactly when a young teen grows into an adult. I started feeling like an adult when I went to university. I was 17 when I enrolled. Others might take a little longer, and may still feel like a teen at 19 or even 20.
As a result of this blurred “when does adulthood start?” line, it’s equally difficult to define when being a teenager ends. Writers and publishers know that 13 year olds are not the same as 19 year olds, but when both ages are grouped into a single age category, figuring out how to write to your audience can be a challenge. The result is that YA as a category is very split. Some books are clearly aimed at the younger end of the YA readership spectrum. They are shorter, tend to feature younger protagonists, less sexual content, less violence, and a lighter, more MG tone. Other books feature protagonists that are 17-19, tend to be longer, darker readers, with more sexual content. Both of these types of books are classified under the same YA umbrella, despite having very different intended audiences. The upper end of the YA umbrella seems to constantly aging up, with protagonists who are outside their teen years. I would argue that because of this split, the actual intended audience for YA ranges from 13-22, depending on the tone/length/content of the book in question. If the publishing world would embrace New Adult as a category, I think a lot of the division would go away. I also think it would make choosing books for teens much easier for school librarians and parents. That being said, there is still a large contingent of adult YA readers who are older than 22 and don’t fit into the New Adult category either. As a 28-year-old reader, I fit into that category. I read YA because it’s fast-paced and imaginative, and as a category, more diverse than Adult fantasy. I try to read with an awareness that teen protagonists will not always make the same decisions I would, or even decisions that I understand.
The Tiger’s Watch is my third YA novel. I would classify each of my existing books as appropriate for different age groups, despite the fact all three of them fall under the YA umbrella. Unicorn Tracks, my first book, falls at the lower end of the YA spectrum. It has a few references that make it too dark for MG, but on the whole it is a light, fast read about two girls on safari with fade to black sexual content. The Seafarer’s Kiss falls on the opposite end of YA. It was originally written as NA fantasy, with a 19-year-old protagonist, quite complex feminist themes and some fairly brutal events. I would say that it is for readers aged 15+, but it’s classified by marketing as in the same category as Unicorn Tracks, which is aimed at readers 12-15. Books that would also fall into this NA, but marketed/sold as YA category would be: Strange the Dreamer, A Court of Thorns and Roses and And I Darken. The Tiger’s Watch sits in the middle of these, and is aimed at readers 13-17.
The Tiger's Watchby Julia Ember
Published by Harmony Ink Press on August 22nd 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, LGBTQ+
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.
About Julia Ember
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 edition of The Tiger’s Watch by Julia Ember
Stay bookish, lovelies!