Interview: Julie Czerneda

Author Julie Czerneda smiling during a Fall day.

Today we will be putting the tough questions to Julie Czerneda.

She is a science fiction and fantasy author who has been writing for twenty-five years and has over twenty-seven books to her name. Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. 

-Julie, what first attracted you to science fiction? 

It was the first type of storytelling I found that spoke to my curiosity and fired my imagination. I was hooked by the first page.

-Who were your favourite authors growing up? 

Andre Norton, Edgar Rice Burroughs, John Creasey, Berkley Grey, Keith Laumer pre-university. Then I added Patricia McKillip and C.J. Cherryh. Robin McKinley.

-Name three of your top ranking reads, and why they are your preferred picks. 

The Riddlemaster of Hed by Patricia McKillip. Pure magic yet her characters are such clear, credible people. The Pride of Chanur by C.J. Cherryh, with her deft portrayal of us through the eyes of the alien. Tea with the Black Dragon by R.A. MacAvoy because so much is drawn from the reader’s imagination.

-Are you a plotter or a pantser? 

Depends. I take whichever approach works for a story. Usually at some point I have to stop and analyze the plot to be sure I’m not missing a thread or beat. Endings typically happen in a mad frenzy of writing, though I’ve known the taste I want to leave from the start.

-What are your two most precious virtues in a character? 

In my own? Intelligence and compassion

-What is your idea of happiness? 

Pushing our canoe into a lake we’ve yet to explore, alone in the wild.

-What are your ideal writing conditions? 

Standing at my desk with a peaceful yet courageous mindset. It helps if I’ve already decided on supper. I’m a person who needs to know people are looked after before I leave the real world to write.

-Where or when do you feel most inspired? 

At the most inopportune moments. Listening to live music, waiting for a train, when I’m supposed to focus on another task.

-What do you appreciate most in your friends? 

That they accept my frequent neglect and love me anyway.

-What part of the process makes you want to rip out your hair?

When I’m roaring along and Life ™ says “Stop.” Might be company coming, might be other commitments. That’s frustrating, but I know those are important, good, and needful things. That the story will still be there. But I’ll grumble.

-Where would you like to live? 

Next? I’m really happy where we are, in a big century home in a small town, but I thrive on change. Maybe somewhere on water. If money was no object, we’d split our time between Canada and New Zealand in a heartbeat. Such great people—and interesting biology—down there.

-If there was one recommendation you could give to authors starting out, what would it be? 

Just one? Okay. Then it’s write for yourself, first and foremost. Write the story in your head and heart. That’s what matters.

-What are the characteristics you believe make a great science fiction story? 

A good science fiction story, to me, is built around a question about an aspect of science. What if we can do X--how would it change us? What if we don’t?

A great science fiction story then keeps everything fundamental as tight to what we know or believe plausible in the worldbuilding and plot as possible. In other words, use the constraints of biology and physics etc rather than ignore or gloss over them. If you have aliens, put the work into making them living things that evolved and communicate and have itchy spots. The other essential component of greatness? Having credible characters I care about who engage with the question and ultimate answer. The whole package.

-What is the title of your latest story (stories)? 

To Each This World from DAW Books; Imaginings A 25th Anniversary Collection self published.

-Can you give us a synopsis of them? 

Each takes place in a future where sleeper ships have spread humanity from New Earth to various worlds. The story begins when a probe arrives from one after 200 years of silence. Aliens called the Kmet who’ve become our partners are dismayed and insist any Humans not on New Earth are in immediate danger. It’s a race to reach those worlds using Kmet Portals, find any descendants, and bring them home. But it soon becomes clear the greatest threat of all comes from assuming we understand one another.

Imaginings is my first collection of short fiction. There’s my first sale, my first fantasy, first horror, and more. I introduce each with what was challenging or odd or fun, so it’s about writing and my career as well. To finish off, I wrote a brand-new Night’s Edge novella, called “A Pearl from the Dark”, featuring Roche, the angry young man who left Marrowdell in the first book.

-Are you working on anything else at the moment, or have the germ of an idea for another story you’d like to titillate your audience with?

I’m back to fantasy to write the next three novels of my Night’s Edge series. I can say there are more dragons, we’ll meet the house toads’ queen, and there’ll be pie. There’s always pie.

Thank you very much for taking the time to answer these questions, Julie!

My pleasure, Benoit!


The title "To Each This World" on a blue background of universes
A red rose and spaceship with the title "Imaginings".

If you enjoyed this interview, why not check out this one with Den Valdron?

Sci fi fan? Check out Red Nexus by Benoit Chartier:

vista of a cyberpunk city, cover image

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