Canadian author/ editor Julie E. Czerneda transformed her love and knowledge of biology into science fiction novels published by DAW Books NY, including The Clan Chronicles, Webshifters, and Species Imperative series, and In The Company of Others. Her work has received international acclaim, multiple awards, and best-selling status. Her latest, A Turn of Light, (DAW March 2013) marks her debut in fantasy. It’s huge. There are toads. She loves it. Although she will return to science fiction shortly, Julie is currently at work on a sequel to Turn called A Play of Shadow. When not writing, Julie’s a sought-after speaker on scientific literary and regularly conducts what she calls “make’m sweat and laugh” writer’s workshops. For more about Julie’s work, please visit www.czerneda.com.
Please indulge me in a momentary digression: Hi Everyone. Feel free to imagine the expression of dazed joy on my face, because look where I am! SF Signal! ME!! I mean, really. This is one of the coolest sites on the internet. Whenever I’ve done a Mind Meld, I’ve been reduced to goo. (Rereading that, I should clarify that while I love the colour, I’m not currently wearing a red shirt.) Suffice to say, John & Co., I’m honoured and hope to prattle wisely. Or at least entertain.
Although wisdom and entertainment lie within the reader. All I, as author, can do is be honest. This — dazed joy or goo, lofty ideals or oddly amused notions — is me. I’m not clever enough as a writer to make you think otherwise, nor would I aspire to do so. Two reasons. First, I’d find it creepy to read another version of me and second, I can’t see how I’d keep multiple me’s straight. Or occupied. There could be snatching of stuff.
This one and only me has been invited by SF Signal to chat with you about my brand new book, A Turn of Light (DAW March 5th release). It’s a story very close to my heart. Heart, I say, because Turn is a fantasy. A fable. A great big book containing a simple love story set in a not-so-simple world, with dragons and toads and unabashed magic alongside a mill and pies and tantalizing correspondence. If you, like me, love Neil Gaiman’s rollicking and special story Stardust — and — enjoy a Jane Austin-ish confusion of manners, you’ll feel right at home in Turn.
Quite the departure from exploring the consequences of biological imperatives or our futures in space, yes? After all, I’m a science fiction writer, with thirteen novels under my belt. I use my head as well as my imagination, keeping it real within the speculative constraints presented to, and accepted by, my readers. I cherish science fiction’s power and scope. I’ve more such stories to tell.
But not today. Today, years in the making, I get to show my readers the sort of fantasy I treasure. That’s the sort where the world feels comfortingly familiar, yet is inhabited by beings of whimsy and dreadful power, of wonderful strangeness and unexpected charm. Where what you are inside, your inner strengths and weaknesses, means everything. For misdeeds matter and kindness rewards.
Most of all, I value fantasy where consequences ripple out from any action, as they do from a pebble tossed into still water, and all can end.
Or be saved. I’m a cheerful person. I love stories with redemption and resolution; if an ending makes me cry, I demand warm tears with a happy sigh or two. Turn, by choice, is a joyful romp as much as anything else because I don’t feel there are enough happy stories. I don’t feel there can be. (Not to mention enough stories with toads.)
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll read other types of stories and enjoy them, but I’m here to tell you about Turn and what I like best. Any fantasy story I pull from the shelf more than once has to linger. It must make this world a little less solid and a great deal more interesting.
You see, I’ll sit in a meadow for hours to listen for mice. Part of me learns fascinating things about mice and other living things. Another part happily slips into a world of shadowed tunnels and tiny, rapid feet, of light-touched webs and love-struck moths. I’ll glance up and not be at all surprised to find a dragon, however momentary, formed by the clouds overhead. Such is the power and joy of imagination. That’s what I require from what I read. It’s what I need.
I’ve felt this way as long as I can remember; no coincidence I’ve been writing my little notes and talking to myself about A Turn of Light for over twenty years. The saga of writing this story would be almost as epic as its 800 plus pages. Suffice to say our family now has a saying for life’s wee complications. “Well, wasn’t that a Turn moment?”
Regardless and because, I love this one.
There you have it. My honest confession. A Turn of Light is a plump, feel-good, cry if you wish but with warm tears and a sigh, story, the sort I treasure. It differs from my other novels not just because it’s a fantasy, but because I wrote it simply to make myself — and my readers — smile.
Oh, and to find that dragon.