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! 🙂

So Sorry For My Cyber Silence

camera photos 009

Let me begin by sending birthday wishes to my April Fool’s kitty. He is now 13 years old. He’s beginning to show his age – a little arthritic, like me & Hubby. He’s starting to slim down and his digestion isn’t as good as it used to be, but we still love him and hope he stays with us for many more years.

With that said, I want to apologize profusely for my my absence over the past month and thank those who expressed their concern. I appreciate you guys looking out for me. 🙂

I think my muse must have wondered where our spring weather was and was so depressed by the high snowbanks, unending snowfalls and frigid temperatures in March that she decided to go on vacation! As a result, she wasn’t around to motivate me into writing at all and is it any wonder? Here’s what it looked like out our windows, front and back, on Saturday – more like January than March. Blech! 😦

March 30, 2013

The snow bank is up against a 6 foot fence!

front, March 30, 2013

View across the street.


Another reason for my lethargy might be my overloaded email box. I’ve tried to keep up with all the blog posts that enter daily, but some time back in November I missed a few days of blog reading and it has snow-balled from there. As much as I love what you all have to say, I haven’t totally succeeded in keeping up with all of you. The enormity of this task has been a little overwhelming. I will start back again slowly, but it could take awhile before I get around to reading all the great stuff you have been doing.

We still have my brother-in-law living with us, recovering from the severe burns he received back in October. His inability to used his hands has meant that I have been playing nursemaid, chauffeur and companion, which leaves me very little time to even keep up with household chores (although if I were truly honest, housework would be last on the list of things I want to do, but it still needs to be done).

In addition, on Easter Sunday, we had a gathering with the in-laws where we celebrated 23 birthdays and 3 anniversaries (those from January to end of May), not including my birthday, both of my children’s birthdays and my son-in-law’s birthday as well as my anniversary. I’ve also had several close friends and family members with birthdays in February, March and April. Everyone expects a handmade card from me so I had my work cut out for me, especially since I make each one unique and try to make them different from the ones I made for them the previous year or two. I’ve been eating, breathing and dreaming card-making. I’ve spent considerable time on Pinterest trying to find ideas for cards. All-told, I think I must have made 3 dozen cards over the past month or so. I have taken pictures of them all and since they have now been given out, I won’t hesitate to show them to you during the next few Crafty Wednesdays.

I still have to finish reading and critiquing a friend’s Regency Romance novel. I’m really sorry that I haven’t been able to do this as quickly as I hoped! On top of all that, I have two more very large novels to read for reviews coming up this month…

…which brings me to some really exciting news: representatives from Penguin Books Canada discovered that I do interviews and book reviews on my blog, so they have asked me to do an interview with Julie Czerneda and review Guy Gavriel Kay‘s latest novel! I guess the whole social media thing actually works!


Image of RIVER OF STARSI have scheduled Julie’s interview for Sunday, April 16th so please drop by then to see what she has to say about her new novel, A Turn of Light. When I finish reading Guy Gavriel Kay’s River of Stars, I’ll post a review, as well.

Also this month, I have been asked to sit on several panels of a new local literary event called the C4 Lit Fest. It’s kind of a spin-off from Comic Con but will be directing its panels and workshops to writers especially those who write fantasy for teens. This means I have to prepare something to say at each panel and make notes to rely on in case of audience questions. If any of you are here in Winnipeg April 20th & 21st, you might want to check out our guest writer line-up and panels here. You can find more information about getting tickets here. It should be a lot of fun.

In closing, I want to say, I hope you haven’t all deserted me for being so silent these past few weeks. I promise to be more diligent with my blog writing and reading from now on. Thanks for your patience. 🙂