One of the cool things about being a columnist here at Black Gate is it gives me the opportunity to signal boost writers who I think deserve more attention, on top of providing my two cents on people who are already widely known. This week I decided to do a little of both, and in a slightly different format than usual, with a Very Special and Hopefully Surprising Shout-Out to acclaimed author and one-of-a-kind person Julie E. Czerneda.
Yes, Julie, this post is about you.
I met Julie a couple years ago in my role as a programming coordinator for Can*Con in Ottawa. At this year’s conference she launched her final Clan Chronicles novel, To Guard Against the Dark, and very graciously surprised us by offering a bunch of free copies to the con-com – because she’s awesome. On the last day of the con, I wanted to see if Julie could sign my copy but I was busy running around, so I said to the other programming coordinator, “If you see Julie, can you tell her I’m looking for her?” And then quickly amended that to, “If you see Julie, tell her I’m hunting her like wild game.” Cuz maybe it would make her laugh.
About an hour later, I was chatting with a couple editors in the dealer’s room when I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. I ignored it, then saw it again, like something disappearing behind the doorway out into the hall. Sure enough, it was Julie, peeking out from behind the door and then darting past it. I excused myself from my conversation and went out into the hallway, only to see Julie haul ass toward the nearest exit, forcing me to actually chase her – like wild game!
We had a good laugh and after we’d composed ourselves, we sat down so she could sign my copy of Guard. And she said to me, “Did you see the acknowledgements?” I frowned, confused, and flipped through a spare copy someone else had until I found that in the acknowledgements she listed myself and several other Can*Con people by name, for the work that we had done to help promote her in advance of the con. Never before have I been mentioned in anyone’s acknowledgements (to my knowledge). So in a span of a few minutes, Julie had me laughing in hysterics and maybe getting a little flustered and emotional. Maybe.
But I’m far from the only person who counts themselves lucky to have gotten to know Julie. Here are a few others with stories to tell…
Sheila Gilbert, editor with DAW Books:
Julie E. Czerneda is a force of nature. Of course, you might expect that from a biologist. You might also expect that from a creator of worlds — no, universes — and of alien races captivating, deadly, and real, oh so real.
Julie is patient and caring — very, very patient — and eventually her patience was rewarded and we moved on to an editorial collaboration that saw her first real literary baby, A Thousand Words for Stranger, into print at DAW in October 1997. And that was just the beginning.
Twenty years later, to the month, Julie’s nine-volume, science fiction masterwork, The Clan Chronicles, drew to its immensely satisfying conclusion with the publication of To Guard Against the Dark. With all secrets revealed (well there might be a few things left to learn…but that would be another story, even an entire collection of stories) and all destinies fulfilled, Julie’s loyal fans can now immerse themselves in the entire series. I envy anyone reading The Clan Chronicles for the first time, and I share the joy of those who have watched this universe and the characters in it grow over the course of these two decades.
Julie is a force of nature, a talented storyteller, and a very dear friend. And don’t believe half the things she tells you that I said over all the time we’ve known one another.
Costi Gurgu, author of RecipeArium
To be in tone with my novel, RecipeArium, for my book launch at Can*Con I served some “alien delicacies,” each having the alien name and alien list of ingredients next to it, so people would know what they were eating. Things like BAT WINGS ROULADE, VERMIH DROPPINGS or URSUB CONGEALED BRAIN.
Julie, who made me the honor to introduce me for my book launch, was very enthusiastic about the food. After she tasted all of the delicacies, she asked me who cooked them. “My mother-in-law,” I said and showed her the old little lady sitting in a corner of the room with a smile on her face. I didn’t know who that was. She obviously wasn’t there for my book launch, or even for Can*Con as far as I could tell.
“I’d like to ask her for the recipes,” said Julie.
“I don’t know.” I smiled because she was playing my game so easily. “She got them from the aliens and they’re quite secretive about them, plus you’d need to buy the ingredients from them.”
“Oh, let me talk to her,” said Julie and went on to the old lady. Now we were going to find out who the intruder was.
Julie talked to her for almost ten minutes. At some point I noticed the old lady passing her three weird looking boxes.
“She gave me everything I asked,” said Julie, keeping the boxes close to her chest.
“Really?” I was seriously troubled hearing this.
“Yes! Even the ingredients!” she said, showing me the boxes.
“Julie…” I began, but she’d already grabbed Roger and disappeared from the room.
That was the last time I saw “Julie” Julie. I don’t know who is posting on Facebook and Twitter as her… Does she sound like our Julie to you?
Jana Paniccia, co-editor of Under Cover of Darkness
I remember meeting Julie for the first time when I was in Toronto for a day when she happened to be doing a book signing. I was just a student at Carleton University at the time and had never met a ‘real author’ in person before. As I stood in line at BakkaPhoenix Books, I was incredibly nervous. When I shyly introduced myself as a girl from her online newsgroup, she immediately jumped up and gave me a big hug… then rushed me over to meet her husband Roger. I am smiling now remembering how excited she was to meet -me- that day. My utter terror at meeting someone so impressive just melted away. Since then, I’ve never been nervous about meeting anyone.
Douglas Smith, three-time Aurora Award winner and author of The Wolf at the End of the World
The first thing you notice about Julie is her smile. It’s a generous smile, because Julie is a generous person. I experienced that generosity early in my career when Julie was a mentor, helping me network at cons, advising me, and writing the introduction to my collection.
Best known as an author, Julie is also an accomplished editor. Here again, her generosity shines through. Whenever Julie edits an anthology, she has always included stories from new authors, giving dozens of authors their first professional sale.
And then there’s her famously devoted fan base. Watching Jules negotiate a con reminds me of a mother goose swimming across a pond, her flock glued to her tail feathers. I was on a panel with Julie at a convention years ago. Julie hadn’t yet arrived, and the three of us on the panel outnumbered the audience by two. As we were about to adjourn to the bar, Julie appeared, bringing our audience with her. Her fans filled the room, the panel proceeded, and much fun was had by all.
Which always happens when Julie is in the room.
Karina Sumner-Smith, author of Radiant
My first time meeting Julie, I was a shy, nervous university student who knew almost no one in the city. I was bookish and hesitant, planning to dart in to get a book signed, maybe stammer my way through a few words, and scurry away. Hah! Julie, by just being Julie, had other ideas.
A love for Julie’s books have brought many people together, in person and online, but Julie herself transforms that appreciation of her work into something greater. From conventions and newsgroup gatherings, to book launches and con dances and quiet chats over a tea or nip of scotch, she turns fans into friends.
You can learn more about Julie’s work, especially her just-concluded Clan Chronicles series, here: www.czerneda.com.
An Ottawa teacher by day, Brandon has been published in On Spec, Third Flatiron Anthologies, and elsewhere. Check out his alternate history story “The Last Best Defense” (Louis Riel meets otherworldly foes) in 49th Parallels: Canadian Alternate Histories and Futures, from Bundoran Press. Learn more at brandoncrilly.wordpress.com or on Twitter: @B_Crilly