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Monday, October 26, 2015

GUEST BLOGGER: Going Dark, Why Gulf is So Different by Julie E. Czerneda

Fantasy Book Critic is extremely excited to welcome Julie E. Czerneda to our blog. We are kicking off a blog tour for Julie's book This Gulf of Time and Stars. This Gulf of Time and Stars is the first of the final trilogy in Czerneda's science fiction series – Clan Chronicles

This Gulf of Time and Stars is scheduled to be published November 3, 2015! Learn more about the series and author Julie E. Czerneda by reading below!

More about the series:

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.

Without further ado, we welcome Julie E. Czerneda for her guest blog! If you wish to follow more posts from Julie E. Czerneda or learn more about the series feel free to follow the blog tour via Facebook. The Facebook event can be found here.


Going Dark, Why Gulf Is So Different.

Those familiar with my novels, particularly the last two fantasies, A Turn of Light and A Play of Shadow, but also my science fiction, will know it’s fair to say I’m something of a fluffy bunny, a term first coined by the inestimable S.M. Stirling, who isn’t one (although very sweet). More telling, perhaps, my dear long-time friend Anne Bishop categorizes her books as “Julie-proof” or not. By that standard, her Ephemera books and latest series, the Others, are (and I love them), but her Realms of the Blood books are not. However beautifully written, those are too dark for me.

Yet now I’m writing dark. What’s up with that?

My previous lack of dark isn’t completely due to my being a fluffy bunny, aka a romantic, optimistic person looking for stories that not only satisfy my tastes, but make me want to linger, re-read, and generally sigh with joy. Okay, that’s a big part of it. I love happy endings. What really gets me is that I can’t forget what I’ve read, especially if it’s disturbed me. Washing out the brain? Not an option. There are enough despicable things in the world without reading them on purpose, therefore I don’t. That means horror, especially well-written, convincing horror, isn’t for me.

Nor, I’d thought, was dark.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a tragic ending, given it’s done not for shock value but rather with powerful inevitability. Life’s like that. Such endings can be beautiful and uplifting, despite the tears. (I read with tissues.) I’ve written such an end for a beloved character, with tissues, and am proud of it. (Species Imperative)

But that’s not going dark. Dark, to me as a writer, is unrelenting. It steals hope, limits choices, sends characters into peril—then slams the trapdoor behind them and tosses away the key. Dark is about making readers wonder how anything good could happen, even as I prepare to make it worse.

Which brings me to Reunification. I knew ten years ago what had to happen in these books in order to complete the story of the Clan. I knew as I wrote the prequel trilogy, Stratification. My hands literally shook as I finished Rift in the Sky, writing how the Clan, faced with living among Humans, made their choice.

The wrong one.

Even now, writing this, I find myself forced to pause and take a deeper breath, letting it out in a sigh. A story starts with infinite possibilities, but each event, each decision, narrows the options. A good story—a great one—gathers momentum. The inevitable narrowing seizes the writer by the heart as well as mind and you’ve no choice, that word again, but to take the only path left.


Science fiction explores consequence. Like any experiment, you put the requisite parameters and constraints in place, then record what happens. That a story does so in words makes it no less potent a tool. The Clan, embodied as Sira, is my experiment and I’ve watched its ending unfold.

A confession. I was supposed to jump in and start writing Reunification in 2009. After all, I’d just done the prequel after months of research. It would have been efficient, to say the least. Maybe I was a coward—okay, I was a coward—but knowing where the story had to go, I discovered the last thing I wanted to do was write it.

I called my dear editor and asked to do the opposite. She agreed, and I spent what became years building a rich world full of magical toads and invisible dragons, writing a romantic, optimistic, blissfully happy fantasy (A Turn of Light), then its sequel. I’m glad I did. Yes, you had to wait, but my hindbrain had understood. I wasn’t ready, in 2009, to write what I had to write.

I am now.

As I said at the start, This Gulf of Time and Stars will be a surprise to some of my long-time readers. In it, no one and nothing is safe. In it, the Clan face the consequence of the choice they made, to subjugate and use those of lesser power. Generations of breeding for Power, of fearing discovery, of fearing Humans, have narrowed their options to one. The story goes dark, by my definition above, and doesn’t come up for air.

It was a different experience, revisiting these characters, my very first. Different, because I know their endings as well as the story’s. That knowledge makes me hold on tight and savour each moment. Cherish them, as I might not have otherwise.

Maybe that’s why Gulf–and the trilogy it begins--is so different. Not the going dark but because it’s the end, after all these years, to my first story. For me, it’s the right ending and I’m content. Even better, I’ll have answered my own question.

Who are the Clan?

Footnote: Still not ready to read your Blood books, Anne


About Julie E. Czerneda 

Since 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 or visit her on Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads. 


Violette Malan said...

olGreat post, Julie, and a perfect explanation for the delay in the Clan novels, when so many have been waiting to see what happened with Sira and Jason.

Unknown said...

Hey,'s BF. So how do you feel about the dark side now that you've dived head first into it? Will it splash onto your other series?

Sarah said...

Love reading about the hidden aspects of books. Makes the book that much more amazing!

Astros Kimm said...

It is going to be very interesting to read a dark(er) story by you. Personally, I felt the original Clan world was pretty terrifying. Maybe I am in the minority, but the thought that another alien race would have a say over whether or not my own Clan lived or died left me feeling raw and vulnerable. Plus, the world was pretty dangerous and I don't think I could ever drink the blood of a living creature through a straw in its back while it was ferrying me through a large body of water. That kind of "snacking" left a bad taste in my mouth.

Serena said...

I have a bit of the same problem with darkness's why I can hear about something like the newly discovered "Lovejoy" comet (see: ) and attach it to filk songs like Free Fall & Other Delights 04 - Molecular Clouds ( ) and Yankee Doodles 11 - The Terriffic Centrifrugal Still ( ) and amuse myself for a good half hour.

Dark or not Julie, I look forward to reading what choices (and mistakes) await to be revealed in your books.


Unknown said...

I must say it make me a little apprehensive to hear that Gulf will be so much darker than the other Clan books. What I wonder is how dark? Depressing dark?

Jueles said...

Lovely teaser Julie. I have so many questions but I'm sure if I did a qualitative research method on them and categorized them, the majority would end up being "Who are the Clan". Waiting in great anticipation for the book, too bad my train ride is this Wednesday and Thursday or I would have been able to dig in and finish going and coming back.

Morgan said...

Great post. Dark is going to be ... different.

Julie Czerneda said...

Thanks Violette! I've been explaining at conventions and signings for so long, it's going to be a relief to hold up the book and go See!?

Julie Czerneda said...

Hi BF! Oh, I doubt it. It's taken six books to hit this moment for the Clan. That's pretty DARK. Fluffy bunny! But you never know with a new story. How about I say, wait and see?

Julie Czerneda said...

Thanks, Sarah! I really appreciate having the chance to do this. My host at fantasybookcritic is amazing.
Thanks Astros. I did have that intention with Cersi. I wrote it as a dangerous, unwelcoming, hostile place to be Clan. I'll leave it to you to imagine if Sira's Clan would fare any better there.

Julie Czerneda said...

Thanks, Serena! And how lovely of you do put astronomy and music together! Wow! I hope you enjoy what happens in GULF.

Julie Czerneda said...

Hi Ginette! Scary dark. Ominous dark. Everything happens so quickly, I don't see it as depressing dark, if that makes sense. I am tipping the apple cart, but there are light moments. Including balloons.

Julie Czerneda said...

Hi Jueles! Glad you liked it! I can promise you'll have one answer to your top question by the end of GULF, another by the end of GATE (out in Sept), and the full answer? Oh, that might be coming in the final volume. After all, there are layers to be uncovered! I look forward to what you think.

Julie Czerneda said...

My apologies if I've missed anyone. I think I hit the publish now button every time...but I might not. I'll check tomorrow.
Meantime, thank you very much for your comments!

KarenJG said...

OOh. ::worryworryworry:: I'm pretty fluffy-bunny in my reading tastes, so having you say that GULF is "dark" has my nerves on edge. I love so many of the characters in your Trade Pact universe that I hate the thought of losing any of them. But... I trust you as an author, so I have that to hang on to...

Andrea J said...

"Science fiction explores consequence. "

This! a hundred times this.

Unknown said...

Sometimes you need a fluffy bunny novel and sometimes you need a dystopian universe novel...I loved the stratification series. I loved s m stirlings series as well

Jan Stirling said...

I am so looking forward to reading Gulf of Stars. You just keep getting better with every book. I'm almost scared to look now though. ;^)

When Steve (SM Stirling) was writing with Anne McCaffrey for Baen I said, "Remember she writes in fluffy bunny universe." And I kept popping my head into his office saying "Fluffy Bunny!" Finally I said to our friend Josepha Sherman, "Maybe he's tired of hearing that. What sort of sound do fluffy bunnies make?" And she said, in an evil tone of voice, "Depends on what you're doing to them." So I stuck with fluffy bunny.

Angela Korra'ti said...

Coming over from Facebook where Julie linked to this, and just wanted to say, wow. O.O All the more intrigued to read this series now!

Julie Czerneda said...

Hi Karen! Be on edge. Ooooh!!!!
That said, I will promise one thing. By the end of Reunification you'll see I've done nothing without reason.

but I don't promise not to make you worry about everyone. muhahhahhaaa

Julie Czerneda said...

Andrea, I agree completely. I've a post coming up at SF Signal next week where I talk about the evolution of the series. I think you'll enjoy that.

Julie Czerneda said...

Jan!!!! Thanks for stopping by--I hoped you'd see that. I'll never forget the fluffy bunny. Remember in our group how we'd both leap up and say that? Twas perfect. (And Steve's McCaffrey books were amazing.)
Thanks for the reminder of Jo's comment. I can still "hear" how she'd have said that.

Julie Czerneda said...

I appreciate your stopping by, Angela. Being able to post, then interact, is amazing. All hail Fantasy Book Critic!

Julie Czerneda said...

Sally, you are right. Stories find their way into what they should be, in my experience, and trying to force the bunny on a dark story--well, that could be hilarious, in fact, but also wouldn't have worked here.
And Steve's amazing. Absolutely.

Julie Czerneda said...

Hi Angela. Glad you liked it. And this is but the first!!!

Good luck everyone.


Deirdre Murphy said...

I've been enjoying your blog tour, so far mostly out of order!

Julie Czerneda said...

Deirdre, glad you've found it! Order doesn't matter ;-)


Click Here To Order “Cardinal Black” by Robert McCammon!!!

Order HERE


Click Here To Order “Cyber Mage” by Saad Z. Hossain

Order HERE


Click Here To Order “Miss  Percy's” by Quenby Olson!!!
Order HERE


Click Here To Order “The True Bastards” by Jonathan French!!!
Order HERE


Click Here To Order “Rumble In Woodhollow” by Jonathan Pembroke!!!
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Click Here To Order “The Starless Crown” by James Rollins!!!
Order HERE