Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a special, month-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader in which we celebrate the literary female role models whose stories have inspired and empowered us since time immemorial. From Harriet M. Welsch to Anne Shirley, Becky Bloomwood to Hermione Granger, Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a series created for women, by women as thirty-nine authors answer the question: “Who’s your heroine?” You can find a complete list of the participants and their scheduled guest post dates Here!
About Julia Ember
Originally from Chicago, Julia Ember now resides in Sunny Scotland where she learned to enjoy both haggis and black pudding. She spends her days working as a professional Book Nerd for a large book wholesaler, and her nights writing YA Romantic Fantasy novels. She also spends an inordinate amount of time managing her growing city-based menagerie of pets with Harry Potter themed names.
A world traveller since childhood, Julia has now visited over 60 countries. Her travels inspire the fictional worlds she writes about and she populates those worlds with magic and monsters.
On the first page of Squire, Tamora Pierce wrote a simple line that cemented Keladry of Mindelan as my most-admired character throughout my early teens. Keladry, she wrote, “was big for her age.”
The description of Kel’s size was so simple. When she wrote it, Pierce was referring to her height as well as build, but to twelve-year-old me, it didn’t matter. I had my plus size heroine and she was a badass. Kel was an outsider. She grew up in a foreign country, a distant set of islands called Yanami and adopted their stoicism. Despite the teasing of her all-male classmates, Kel hid her emotions behind a carefully poised “Yanami mask of stone.” Kel struggled through four books to become a Knight. And I clung to her story, reading it over and over again until my copies started falling apart.
Throughout my life and especially in my teens, my weight has been a struggle. As a teen, I was far from comfortable with my body. I hid my frame under baggy clothes and changed in a separate locker area. Like Kel, I learned to hide my own emotions behind a mask of stone. I buried the hurt deep and never let my classmates see how badly their words affected me.
The temptation to hide myself in other ways was strong. I was good at drama, and a good singer. I could write well and I loved debate. But I often found myself shying away from those things, not wanting anyone to see through the mask of indifference I struggled to keep I place. Sometimes it’s easier to just blend in the background than open yourself up to any kind of attention.
The Lady Knight Quartet followed Kel through her trials and at the end, she achieved her goal of becoming a Knight. Kel finds romance and fulfilment and friends by pursuing her goals. As I got into my later teens, I too was finding that the more I focused on the things I loved, on my goals, the less my size seemed to matter.
As an adult, I have my own mismatched crew of animal familiars. I have my quirky Peachblossom the Horse equivalent, my duo of ornery furrballs (though thankfully not a baby griffin!) I have love in my life. I’m still “big for my age”…whatever that means…but it matters less, because I’m strong, beautiful and loved too. My own journey has been a lot like Kel’s, but we both came out the other side.
Title Unicorn Tracks
Author Julia Ember
Pages 187 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre & Keywords Fantasy, Romance
Published April 21st, 2016 by Harmony Ink Press
Find It On Goodreads ● Amazon.com ● Chapters ● The Book Depository
After a savage attack drives her from her home, sixteen-year-old Mnemba finds a place in her cousin Tumelo’s successful safari business, where she quickly excels as a guide. Surrounding herself with nature and the mystical animals inhabiting the savannah not only allows Mnemba’s tracking skills to shine, it helps her to hide from the terrible memories that haunt her.
Mnemba is employed to guide Mr. Harving and his daughter, Kara, through the wilderness as they study unicorns. The young women are drawn to each other, despite that fact that Kara is betrothed. During their research, they discover a conspiracy by a group of poachers to capture the Unicorns and exploit their supernatural strength to build a railway. Together, they must find a way to protect the creatures Kara adores while resisting the love they know they can never indulge.