Sunday Interview – Julie Czerneda

Julie Czerneda author photo credit Roger Czerneda Photography

Hello, my faithful readers and anyone else who may have popped in today to join us!

I am pleased to be involved in another blog tour. Many of you may know Canadian author, Julie E. Czerneda, as the former biologist turned science fiction novelist published by DAW Books, NY. You may have read her Clan Chronicles series or you’re a fan of Mac or Esen from her other work. Maybe you’ve heard she’s an editor. Also, true. This spring, however, prepare to meet the Julie you don’t know. After three years of work, she’s letting out her whimsical side with the release of her first fantasy novel, A Turn of Light, also from DAW.

Hi, Julie! I know you don’t have a lot of time these days as you launch your latest book, so I would like to jump right in and talk about it.

What inspired you to write, ‘A Turn of Light’? 

I was hungry for the kind of fantasy I remembered and loved, but couldn’t seem to find any more. Don’t get me wrong, it’s likely out there on someone’s shelf, just not mine. As a writer, I tend to write for myself anyway, and I have specific tastes in dragons I wanted to indulge. Add that to my distaste for the fairytale about the princess and the frog prince? The whole thing became irresistible and I succumbed, gladly.

Did you notice, my dear readers, she mentioned DRAGONS (among other things)! Sorry for the aside, Julie, but I have a few very loyal readers who absolutely LOVE dragons – and so do I! 🙂

A Turn of Light Cover

I also love history and was excited to learn your story is set in pioneer times. What kind of research did you need to do for it?

Thanks! Once I’d chosen that time and place as the foundation for my world-building, I discovered a love of history too. While I’m curious about everything, I hadn’t ever scoured the history section of used bookstores, or gone to museums with writing about a place in mind. (Biologist, you see.) I started with the physical details. Structures, technology, what would be deemed worth carrying to a new home in the wilderness and what wouldn’t. That took me to pioneer villages and old barns. I needed to understand the daily life and occupations, which led me to the books the settlers themselves would have used as references (so cool!). At that point, I spent a few weeks pondering what would or could take place in a community the size of Marrowdell, and what they’d need to obtain from larger settlements. Hinges became a brief obsession.

Then there was the mill. My photographer-spouse and I toured every abandoned mill in reach, taking all manner of reference photos. We did the bulk of that at a working mill, Watson’s Mill in Manotick.

Aside from this kind of research, I became something of a voyeur, diving into the actual accounts by those settlers. The letters home, the dreams and plans they had, even the birth of Canadian publishing. I’ve written about this in an essay at the end of TURN. It definitely informed the characters as well as the world. 

You’re a girl after my own heart! I did a lot of the same things when I researched my own books. 🙂

Would you please introduce us to your main characters?

There are three: Jenn Nalynn, the miller’s youngest daughter; Wisp, the disgraced dragon who’s been her invisible friend since birth; and the stranger who arrives in Marrowdell, Bannan Larmensu.

Innocent and good-hearted, as the story begins Jenn is about to turn nineteen, her adult birthday, and wants more than anything to leave the valley of her birth and see the wonders of the wider world for herself. 

A former soldier, Bannan longs for a simple life, to be a farmer. Having inherited his family’s gift, he’s a truthseer, able to know if someone is lying or telling the truth. When he arrives in Marrowdell, he finds far more, for here his ability lets him glimpse the magical realm of the Verge and to see the true nature of Jenn Nalynn, for she was born by the light of both worlds and carries a growing power as her birthright. 

(I should mention that Bannan has also inherited the family warhorse, Scourge, who isn’t like other horses. For one thing, he eats rabbits.)

Wisp comes from the Verge, the magical realm tied to Marrowdell by some cataclysm years ago. He’s perilous yet plays with thistledown. Old, yet able to learn. Having learned to love Jenn Nalynn, he nonetheless understands his duty may mean killing her. For if she ever steps beyond Marrowdell, his world and hers will be torn apart.

Which is why it’s really not a good thing, when Jenn Nalynn does her very first magic and turns Wisp into a man.

You’ve got me hooked!

I’m always curious about magic in fiction. How does the magic work in your story?

It’s elemental. Primal. Wild. Part of the landscape and inherent in certain beings or forms of life. I don’t have magic users in TURN as such. There are those who know very well where not to go, or who’ve learned good manners. Marrowdell sits along an edge, connected to the Verge, where magic is everywhere.

That said, at the turn of light, sunset, what lives in Marrowdell that came from the Verge can be seen, if the watcher knows where to look. I love that part.

Without spoiling the story, I can say that there are beings of magic who use their power with great deliberation and impact. Choosing to do so, however, is something fraught with risk and consequence. I love that part too.

In your promotional photo, I noticed you had a statue of a frog (or is it a toad?) on your lap. What is the significance of that?

Ah, the house toad. I wanted something ordinary in the village that would, if you looked closely, be rather odd. Toads fit the bill. Harmless and small, yet so much more in Marrowdell. They’ve become iconic, really. I take one to each of my events to leave behind. Every one should have a house toad, believe me.

The one on my lap was a gift from our daughter, Jennifer Lynn. If you notice something familiar in the name, yes, it’s true. This is Jennifer’s first “tuckerization” and I’m very proud.

Very cool! I’m sure she’s thrilled. 🙂


I’m partial to frogs and toads, myself. Here’s one that I put out in my garden, each summer:

Are there are any other links you would like me to share with my readers?

My event calendar can be found at Another link of possible interest is

I’m happy to connect with readers via twitter @julieczerneda, facebook (look for the Marrowdell page), and goodreads.

Thank you, Julie, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with us.

My pleasure. Great questions!

If you want to learn more about Julie and her writing, Derek at Speculating Canada did a really in-depth interview of Julie, which you can find here.
And now, I have some exciting news! You may have a chance to WIN one of six copies of A Turn of Light donated by Penguin Canada for Julie’s contest, “Awesome Turn Blog Tour Scavenger Hunt”! Doesn’t that sound like FUN?
I hope you will check out her events calendar (link above) which will send you to the other blogs who interviewed her in order to find the answers to her questions, which you can answer on her website: or specifically, here. Sorry, but I’m afraid those who live somewhere other than Canada or the United States are beyond the limits of the shippers.
Good luck! 🙂