Unexpected Questions with Julie E. Czerneda

Award-winning author and editor Julie E. Czerneda was inducted into the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 2022. She has written twenty-three science fiction and fantasy novels (and counting), published by her beloved DAW Books and Hugo-winning editor Sheila E. Gilbert, as well as numerous short stories and anthologies. Julie’s works combine her training and love of biology with a boundless curiosity and optimism. Her recent releases include Imaginings, Julie’s first short story collection, and the standalone science fiction novel To Each This World. Coming Spring 2024 is a new fantasy, A Change of Place. Julie is represented by Sara Megibow of KT Literary. www.czerneda.com


If you had to choose between being a mermaid or a dragon, which would you pick and why?

Mermaid. I love water. What lives in it—how it moves—its importance to all of us—even the chemistry. Being in a canoe is my happy place. Plus there are those years spent studying sex in fish. Whoa. Let me tell you…maybe not. I’d love being something at home in water, especially in the depths. Fascinating! (Bonus: Aquaman fan, here. If I can be a mermaid, that implies a society under the sea. Aliens in truth!)


If you could choose any real-life celebrity to make a cameo appearance in one of your books, who would it be and why?

Like many authors, I’ve snuck in references to folks I admire—or their work—all along. I’ve named starships after Canadian astronauts. Peppered stories with DISCWORLD and FARSCAPE references, among others. Used hockey player names. I’m quite shameless, really. That said, if I were to have the chance to tuck someone well-known into a story, with their approval and as they are? Huh. Okay, do they have to be flesh and blood, i.e. breathing celebrities, because my current list starts with Tarzan and keeps going…


If you could have any fictional pet as a companion, what would it be and why?

A house toad. Who aren’t exactly pets but they do live inside the buildings of my fantasy series, Night’s Edge, and enjoy pillows. They take the place of cats and dogs in what’s a pastoral village. My intention was to make the setting feel a little off right from the start. And to give toads—a vastly underappreciated amphibian–more acclaim. Did I mention mine have pointy teeth and big puppy eyes? Oh, and magic. They have some of that, too. Sadly, my use of them in my stories coincided with fewer being around our home. House toads are something of a surrogate, in that regard. Oh, and as pets, they’d have one outstanding benefit. While admittedly cold and uncuddly, when they eat a pebble, they produce a tasty egg. A breakfast-making pet!


If you could have any sci-fi gadget in real life, what would it be and what practical uses would you have for it?

The translator microbes from FARSCAPE. Hands down. I want to be able to talk to anyone I meet, in their language. I want everyone to be able to do that if that’s their wish. Stay unique but be mutually understood. Hear stories as others tell them. Share your own. I suspect it might prevent more than a few disputes.


What off-beat location would you like to see host a convention, and why?

The Museum of Nature in Ottawa, Canada. Panels among the dinosaurs. Readings between aquaria. Secret tours of the basement collections. Dancing in the rotunda under the lights. Oooh! It’d be awesome! Let’s go!


How have you used the phrase “I’m a writer” to avoid an unpleasant situation? What was it?

I may have used it at the dentist a couple of times. It’s wonderful how long you can delay that needle heading for your mouth when you’re answering eager questions about writing. Gives more time to build up one’s courage. There is a downside. The questions keep coming even once your mouth is jammed up with equipment.


Which trope of science fiction (phasers, transporters, time machines, much more) would you like to see put into our own reality? And how would you use it in a mundane way?

Transporters. We have a close family, but travel between is like crossing three countries in Europe. It’d be nice to be there exactly when needed—and leave when not. I’d love to “pop in” for supper or a birthday. Take back something to fix and return it. Bake extra muffins and secretly leave a plate of nice warm ones on a counter. Goodness. I do believe I’d become something of a kitchen fairy. Or wait–drop in to read a bedtime story while cuddling!! Now there’s a fabulous use for tech.


For my final in-person event of 2023, I’ll be a Special Guest at this year’s Can-Con, in Ottawa Canada (at a nice hotel—not, alas, in the Museum of Nature). One of the GOHs is my agent Sara Megibow, making her first trip to Canada. CAN-CON 2023 – October 13-15 in Ottawa, Canada

Coming April 30, 2023, I’m back to house toads, dragons, and Marrowdell! A Change of Place is the next novel in my Night’s Edge series and I couldn’t be happier to be writing fantasy again. (Love SF, but it’s been a while.) You can find info and links to everything me at www.czerneda.com


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