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Interview & Giveaway: Julie Czerneda

Interview & Giveaway: Julie Czerneda published on 4 Comments on Interview & Giveaway: Julie Czerneda

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Julie Czerneda has graciously allowed Galleywampus to host a stop on her blog tour for This Gulf of Time and Stars. We also have a giveaway listed way down below.

About the Author

CzernedaCPC-008095wproSince 1997, Canadian author/editor Julie E. Czerneda has shared her love and curiosity about living things through her science fiction, writing about shapechanging semi-immortals, terraformed worlds, salmon researchers, and the perils of power. Her fourteenth novel from DAW Books was her debut fantasy, A Turn of Light, winner of the 2014 Aurora Award for Best English Novel, and now Book One of her Night`s Edge series. Her most recent publications: a special omnibus edition of her acclaimed near-future SF Species Imperative, as well as Book Two of Night`s Edge, A Play of Shadow, a finalist for this year’s Aurora.

Julie’s presently back in science fiction, writing the finale to her Clan Chronicles series. Book #1 of Reunification, This Gulf of Time and Stars, will be released by DAW November 2015. For more about her work, visit www.czerneda.com or visit her on Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads.

About the Books

The Clan Chronicles is set in a far future with interstellar travel where the Trade Pact encourages peaceful commerce among a multitude of alien and Human worlds. The alien Clan, humanoid in appearance, have been living in secrecy and wealth on Human worlds, relying on their innate ability to move through the M’hir and bypass normal space. The Clan bred to increase that power, only to learn its terrible price: females who can’t help but kill prospective mates. Sira di Sarc is the first female of her kind facing that reality. With the help of a Human starship captain, Jason Morgan, Sira must find a morally acceptable solution before it’s too late. But with the Clan exposed, her time is running out. The Stratification trilogy follows Sira’s ancestor, Aryl Sarc, and shows how their power first came to be as well as how the Clan came to live in the Trade Pact. The Trade Pact trilogy is the story of Sira and Morgan, and the trouble facing the Clan. Reunification will conclude the series and answer, at last, #whoaretheclan.

Interview

Galleywampus: You first started writing about Sira almost twenty years ago. Now that it has been over a decade since the Trade Pact Universe series concluded, what was the most challenging part of writing about Sira again? Did you know what she was up to all these years? Are you finding that Sira had changed for you in that time?

Julie: More like thirty, to be honest. It took me ten years to sell my first book, after all. Time does fly! There were a few challenges, that’s for sure. Mostly because I’d written so much else, and differently, in the interim. I talk about trying to regain my early “voice” in my post in “Writing Like I Used To”, but that was only one aspect. The details within the previous six books was another; fortunately, I had betareaders to help me (who joined me to talk about that at Publishing Crawl ). The plot, that was the thing. Glad you asked.

The story—Sira and Morgan—didn’t go away and come back. I find everything I’m working on, or thinking of working on, is in my head some place. Ideas pop out at the least convenient time. I dash from the tub. Write in the dark. Most often, the best of these occur to me when I’m supposed to be focused on what I’m writing right now, the stuff with a deadline. I’ve learned to give in, write the note, and put it some place safe. For Reunification? I’d years of jots and hints, most in a journal but an appalling number stuffed in file folders. I needed to organize. Somewhere BIG.

Like my office wall, the one without bookshelves. The one we’d freshly painted, having filled in the myriad tack holes that somehow had accumulated. (Innocent humming.)

Postit-wall20151031_160904w_proMy husband, being vastly clever, spotted the signs. You see, an author about to nest a new book acts much like a pregnant bird or dog. A certain glassy stare. A tendency to pick up random bits of paper and stick them in unpredictable places. Turning in place. Before I could pick up my first thumbtack, he’d obtained nice flat metal thingies meant for curtains and screwed them along the wall, handing me a box of magnets. (He took the tacks.)

I was off. First up were large sheets of paper; next came Post-its. Each had a separate plot point garnered from my journal and folders and I worked until they were all there, roughly organized by where in the three book arc of Reunification they’d matter most.

I’ll tell you a secret. The act of writing down plot points, then choosing—finding–where they belonged on the wall, is what locks them in my head. The whole mass is still up on the wall, but I haven’t so much as glanced at it since I stuck the last note in place. I like having it there; I don’t have to have it there. Please don’t tell Roger.

Did I know what Sira was up to? Interesting question. I knew Gulf would pick up her story mere weeks in character-time after To Trade the Stars, so as far as I was concerned, she and Morgan were still in the afterglow of Happy Ending. What I had to know was the momentum to conflict was building in the background, and powerful forces were about to collide.

Galleywampus: Love plays an important part in your books involving Sira. Why does this subject resonate with you?

Julie: Oh, it plays an important part in all of my books. Not only romantic love, although I’m a fan where it’s right, but the love of family, love between friends. To me it’s the thread that works through our lives and society as a whole, holding us together, giving life meaning.

In Sira’s case, I needed her to evolve into a sympathetic character and to represent what any Clan was capable of, given the opportunity. The powerful self-serving alien bent on human seduction has not only been done to death, it doesn’t interest me. Yes, the Clan have subverted their own reproduction into something cold and pragmatic, but they are a passionate race and this wasn’t always their way. The Clan are also xenophobic. Sira may have reasoned what her Human, Morgan, might be able to help her accomplish—to the good of her kind—but to any Clan, intimacy with something so alien as a Human is unimaginably repugnant. Without spoiling the story, if Sira hadn’t been capable of love and compassion, of growth into those feelings not only for Morgan, but others, I wouldn’t have a believable plot.

Morgan himself is her model. He’s deeply compassionate, with a strong moral centre developed from experience as well as personal inclination. He represents, in that sense, the best of us.

One of my favourite scenes is where Morgan confronts Sira, who’s developed a full-on adolescent crush on him (much to her confusion). He tells her she doesn’t know what love is and manages a decent job of muddling through sexual attraction versus true caring for another. Later, once she’s come to understand the difference, she does her utmost to shield him, from her Clan instincts and her kind.

Among my joys in their relationship is the interplay when they work together, which doesn’t always go smoothly. While Sira has immense abilities and power, Morgan has practically rebuilt his starship and treasures it. To work alongside as crew, she’s trying to learn and almost too enthused, especially when he knows a mistake in space happens only once.

Galleywampus: How does your background in biology fit into your science fiction writing?

Julie: I’ve mentioned in an earlier interview (it’s a tour, after all) on Fantasy Book Café that I create my aliens and their worlds using that background, along with my fascination with the odder aspects of living things. Spider sex, for one. Birds seeing in ultraviolet. Parasites. Nature offers a buffet of wonderful details I couldn’t make it up!

That’s world-building. My biology background is the source of my story ideas too. The Clan Chronicles came about from my wondering what would happen if an intelligent species bred for a costly trait. How far would they go? Species Imperative is my take on how an innate biological drive, in this case migration, could impact on a peaceful, well-tuned galactic civilization. Beholder’s Eye? Oh, there I’m playing with all things biological, but at the core is my speculation on what an almost immortal species would be like—and how might one come about. In the Company of Others features space exploration and settlement, but it started with my own dismay at species that seem harmless being released where they become horrendous pests to the local wildlife.

It’s fair to say there’s nothing about my biology background that isn’t in my science fiction. (And sneaks quietly into my fantasy as well.)

Galleywampus: You are a DIY fan. What has been your favorite recent DIY project?

Adding flock to simulate various types of vegetation.
Adding flock to simulate various types of vegetation.

Julie: When I’d finished Stratification, the prequel trilogy within the Clan Chronicles, I’d planned a break to try my hand at my first fantasy novel. (I talk about my reasons at Fantasy Book Critic I was determined not to sound like a science fiction author trying their first fantasy novel. I started by changing everything possible about my writing process, from my office décor to where I’d start. I wanted to have an intimate setting, Marrowdell, where everything took place within a single valley and village. I wouldn’t write a word, I vowed, until I could “see” the place for myself.E---Marrowdell-Model-in-glass-case-CPC-001045aw_pro Being a thorough sort, I researched pioneer settlements, including pacing one out, and came up with the rough size of my valley. From then, it was a process of determining scale, and I was off.

Understand I didn’t have details of the story or any outline. I was delighted to discover those as the landscape came to life. It took 28 eight hour days to complete. Here’s an abbreviated photo blog of the process.

Once finished, I put it where I could refer to it while I wrote. It gave me everything from line-of-sight to how long it’d take someone to walk from point A to B, shadows and light by time of day, and, most importantly, where “magic” had clawed the ridges to either side.

Thanks for such great questions!

Galleywampus: Thank you, Julie! And enjoy the rest of your tour!

Author’s links

Author’s Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Amazon

Giveaways

1. We are so very fortunate that DAW has provided us with a hardcover copy of This Gulf of Time and Stars to the winner (US or Canada);

2. Audible has given us a copy of the audiobook (1) (US or Canada) to give away as well!

Sample from the audiobook version of This Gulf of Time and Stars, narrated by Allyson Johnson, courtesy of audible.com:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Credits

Cover Credit: Matt Stawicki (www.mattstawicki.com)
Author Photo and Model Photos Credit: Roger Czerneda Photography (http://photo.czerneda.com/Home.php)

Review: A Red-Rose Chain, by Seanan McGuire

Review: A Red-Rose Chain, by Seanan McGuire published on No Comments on Review: A Red-Rose Chain, by Seanan McGuire

I didn’t start reading the October Daye books until last December. I like to think I was fashionably late to the party, sidling in the back door after all the boring small talk had been said, grabbing a drink, and, in general, pretending that I was there the entire time. I may have been late, but I am still a fan.

As with all my favorite kinds of series, I can’t even begin to discuss Red-Rose Chain without also briefly mentioning some of the other books. It’s impossible for me to separate the book from the series – if done well, they fit together like puzzle pieces, and how does one review a single puzzle piece without thinking of the big picture? I give the series as a whole an 8.5 out of 10 (with 1 being a simply terrible series that I really shouldn’t name because I’m a professional now; and 10 being Dresden Files). When held up against the rest of the books, I give Red-Rose Chain a 7.

It was simply not my favorite, which is fine; I am still a fan. I still love October Daye, I love the undertone of mystery, I love Tybalt, I love Spike, and I love how San Francisco is a character – a creature somewhere in the margins between crass and lovely, human and fae. I missed that in this book. Most of it is set in Portland, and Portland as a character was simply too new, and too… not San Francisco.

There was a lot of awesome in this book, don’t get me wrong. The mysteries (oh yes, plural) were deftly laid out. Seanan McGuire used our own prejudices to confuse us, and then dropped several bombs. Toby and the friends she brought along with her on her diplomatic mission were placed in the most sinister kind of danger they had ever been in, and we got a satisfying (if probably temporary) conclusion to a plot that took first seat in Chimes at Midnight. There are also some very fascinating scenes that deal with mind-control techniques, suppression of memories, and what can happen when a people group is traumatized. McGuire has always been good at digging into the psychology of everything, and it truly shines in this book.

It was always going to be hard for Red-Rose Chain to follow The Winter Long. That book blew up the series, and perhaps I will look back on this one as a pleasant interlude filled with sadistic monsters, traitors, and secrets, and a necessary respite from the sinister happenings in San Francisco. Everyone needs a vacation, but don’t get too cozy in Portland, Toby. San Francisco needs you.

It was time to head into the future. It had been waiting long enough.

And quite a future that is! Red-Rose Chain will be followed by Once Broken Faith (expected 2016), The Brightest Fell (expected 2017), Night and Shadow (expected 2018), and When Sorrows Come (expected 2019). All published by DAW.

Purchase on Amazon via THIS LINK

Review: Twelve Kings in Sharakhai

Review: Twelve Kings in Sharakhai published on No Comments on Review: Twelve Kings in Sharakhai

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I probably won’t give a deep summary of many of the books I review. Ultimately, if you want to know the general concepts, you can read the back of the book at your favorite book-seller, the summary on Goodreads, or the blurb on your favorite book retailer’s website.

I will note here that the book is about a young woman, Çeda, who lives a complex life: orphan, former gutter-wren, apothecary’s assistant, gladiator, cold-blooded killer, lifelong friend, vengeful would-be assassin. She’s a fighter: always was, always will be, never really had a choice, after her mother is murdered and strung up for all to see. Çeda spends about 0% of the book moaning about her difficulties, though, and spends much of the book plotting (and working toward) the murder of the 12 near-immortal, god-blessing-infused Kings of/in Sharakhai.The Kings were directly responsible for her mother’s death, you see.

These Kings each have a different power given to them by a god. But there is also, intended or unintended,  a curse attached to each. One King, for example, who can see the future, can only see the other Kings’ futures as a crown that could signify any of the other Kings, and he cannot see his own future at all. He is haunted by this blindspot, and it has caused him terrible grief. The Kings are god-like, cruel, and over 400-years old. Despite this cruelty, we do see their motivations and follow one of these kings via POV.

The book is languid in spilling it’s secrets, told in third-person prose that shifts to several different characters. The sequential flashbacks give us glimpses at how Çeda became the young woman we meet in chapter one, and also gives a more complete understanding of her relationships, like the one with her caretaker and with her best friend..

One aspect that I loved about this book–one of many–is that romantic love is not a plot point here. Love is important, present, celebrated. But this is by no means a romance novel. It is a fantasy novel with realistic, never-forced emotional truths.

This novel fits some common fantasy thematic elements, a few common fantasy tropes, uses some signals that an avid fantasy reader will pick up. Some of the secrets that Çeda unearths are guessed early on, but the book doesn’t rely on the big reveal as an emotional punch to us–the emotional punch is for Çeda. The language is thoughtful and measured. The plot speed is slow, but I count this a strength. Beaulieu does not rush anything here. We learn about the desert’s mythology, Sharakhai’s history, the political machinations and subplots, in such a way that we don’t realize that we are lacking information until we receive it. In some books, the background is never fleshed out–we are given the inked sketch and assume that is all we’ll get. In Twelve Kings in Sharakhai, the color is added over time, creating a complete piece of art.

The desert is a character all its own, here. Beautiful shifting sands, boats and ships and, essentially, surfboards using special wood glide over the sands, making Sharakhai both a city separated from the world by a sea and a city with little access to water and the easy food of a sea-faring city. It’s a brilliant concept, perfectly executed.

If you take the kink and sex out of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart, add some gladiator sport, provide an authentic desertscape, and tamp down the poetic language just tad, you’ve got Bradley P. Beaulieu’s Twelve Kings in Sharakhai. This was, by far, the best “epic fantasy” work I’ve read in years.

Twelve Kings in Sharakhai by Bradley P. Beaulieu was published by DAW on September 1, 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

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