Friday, February 26, 2010

7 Questions For: Author Julie E. Czerneda

Julie E. Czerneda is the author of Misspelled, The Trade Pact Cycle of The Clan Chronicles: A Thousand Words for Stranger, Ties of Power, To Trade the Stars; Web Shifters series: Beholder’s Eye, Hidden in Sight, Changing Vision; The Species Imperative series: Survival, Migration, Regeneration; and The Stratification series: Reap the Wild Wind, Riders of the Storm, Rift in the Sky. The following books will be available soon: The Reunification Cycle, Books #1,2,3, A Turn of Light, Search Image, and Gossamer Mage. Her novel In the Company of Others was the winner of the 2002 Prix Aurora Award, the 2002 Reviewer’s Choice Best SF Award, and a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award for Distinguished SF. She continues to do workshops and presentations on science fiction, writing, and scientific literacy, and is writing a series of features on SF and biotechnology for a college text. She is also a former science fiction consultant to Science News. 

And now Julie E Czerneda faces the 7 Questions:

Question Seven: What are your top three favorite books?

The first question and it's impossible? ARGH! It depends on my mood, since I have ::coughs:: quite a few books surrounding me and I reread the favourite I require. That make sense? However, if I have to list only three, right now, right here?

A FORTRESS IN TIME, by C.J. Cherryh.
THE LAST PLANET by Andre Norton

Question Six: How much time do you spend each week writing? Reading?

As much as possible and there's never enough. You know how it is, I'm sure. In the pre-committed to a book phase, when I'm researching and noodling the story, I'll read probably 3-5 hours a day, every day. I keep it to work-relevant reading, however. Some will be materials I was sent to critique or promised to read, with the rest research materials. Once I've hit critical mass and am committed to a particular book or story, I only write. Depending on deadlines and real life, I'm guilty of trying to write every waking minute, which isn't healthy for the body or long term career, so I keep it down to around 11- 12 hours per day at most. With the kind intervention of my husband, who has been known to bake cookies to lure me out. Plus we've Rules. No writing before exercise is one (I see you have that too, Robert). No work after 4 on Fridays, ever. When I'm not ready to plunge into the next book, however, I'll grab old favourites, new shiny books, anything at all to read. Stolen moments, between other stuff. I'm an active person and when not attacked by the muse, I really don't sit still much.

Question Five: What was the path that led you to publication?

Short and long, easy and complex, above all rather silly in hindsight. You see, I fell into non-fiction writing quite easily -- during my maternity leave, in fact, from teaching biology. Since my hobby was writing stories for myself, none ever finished, it turned out I was quite good at writing science. So I did that for many years. I became an editor as well. For a while, my husband and I owned a publishing house, to handle specialty non-fiction. That's all the short and easy.

The long, complex, and silly? My husband and non-fiction publisher/editors conspired to have me finish something from my fiction and try to sell it. So I picked the longest something, found a copy of Writers Digest, and sent it out to all the wrong people, in all the wrong order. But after that, I discovered conventions, fandom, the wonderful support of writers in our genre, and basically had a blast. And, despite all my wrong moves, my work ended up where it belonged, with the publisher of my favourite authors, DAW. Yes, it was that first longest something, A THOUSAND WORDS FOR STRANGER. We all chuckle about it now.

Question Four: Do you believe writers are born, taught or both? Which was true for you?

Everyone has stories to tell. Important, meaningful stories. The tricky bit is being able to tell those stories in a way that reaches another mind and imagination -- even better, from a professional sense, many minds. As an editor, I've seen my share of people who have a story they desperately want to share, but can't get it out. I've seen people who are amazing with words, but confuse that with having a story of their own worth telling. So in that sense, we're all writers, but some of us manage to spew forth the right combination of words at the right time.

We find our audience -- because that's the third factor. For reading to occur, for your words to mess with someone else's mind, you have to get your words in front of them.

Me? I'm always working on the words part. Biologist. I read other authors and gasp in wonder at their ability to say what they mean. I aspire to do that. It's part of what makes this work fun -- the challenge, the growth (hopefully), the semi-colons. Okay, maybe not semi-colons.

If I were to say which was more important? Having a story to tell. Everyone does. They just have to find the way to tell it that works for them and their audience.

Question Three: What is your favorite thing about writing? What is your least favorite thing?

Favourite? Being lost in a story, writing so quickly and intensely that the only frustration is the maximum speed of my fingers on the keys.

Least? Being lost in a story, so when I come back to the real world I know what I missed. The sunny morning. The time with the kids. The turn of the planet.

Question Two: What one bit of wisdom would you impart to an aspiring writer? (feel free to include as many other bits of wisdom as you like)

Have fun. This is not work for the grimly determined --you'll fade. You have to enjoy what you're doing as you do it. And pat yourself on the back. How few have your courage! To take your imaginings and dreams, to fix them into words, to show them to strangers? How amazingly brave is that!? And don't believe any naysayers. I've yet to meet any new writer who hasn't succeeded if they loved the work, acted professionally, and had patience.

Question One: If you could have lunch with any writer, living or dead, who would it be? Why?

Charles Darwin. We'd take sandwiches and beer into the forest behind our house. We watch nature through his eyes, see its beauty, wonder at its complexity. And laugh about the writing process. I know he'd be someone who'd laugh.

Actual Interview Date: 8/24/2009


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