Today I’m delighted to welcome Julie E. Czerneda as part of the Against the Dark Blog Tour celebrating her soon-to-be-released latest novel! The final book in the Reunification trilogy (and the ninth in the Clan Chronicles), To Guard Against the Dark, will be on sale on October 10. I have a guest post by the author today to share with you as well as a book giveaway courtesy of DAW Books—plus information regarding how to enter DAW Books’ giveaway of all nine books in the Clan Chronicles!

To Guard Against the Dark by Julie E. Czerneda
Cover Credit: Matt Stawicki

The Hair

Oh, not mine! When our friend Bobbie B. suggested “The Hair” as a blog topic, she didn’t mean my locks. I love my hair, don’t get me wrong—it’s attached and came with the package, however unfair that my mother and brother had such thick stuff with glorious natural waves. Mine? More the fine and fly free variety. In other words, if I don’t ask it to appear thick and lush, it won’t embarrass me by failing. I’m content with a happy sparkle, if it stays out of my eyes.

Until the next new book release, that is, when I dash to have it cut. That way it stays out of my eyes and I don’t look like a forlorn shrub. (For those curious, yes, this is the real reason my hair received no attention whatsoever between Rift in the Sky (2009) and the release of A Turn of Light (2013), contrary to rumours I was attempting to grow fantasy-author tresses. Which oddly did happen, although it remained fine and flying free, thank you.)

No, this is about my main character’s, Sira’s, hair, now almost a character in its own right. The Hair even has fans. (You know who you are.)

In-joke: Anyone notice Sira first appeared in a wig? Thought not. Read the first excerpt now that you know. Later we learn her hair had fastenings in it, but those? To secure the wig. A disguise of sorts.

Morgan took the plate, sparing only a quick glance at its imprisoned memory of a woman or girl, dressed in the latest insystem fashion, hair elaborately dyed and styled, eyes too large for the face.

How Sira’s hair really looks? Might sound familiar.

I stopped, examining myself critically in the mirrored tile of the fresher. A stranger stared back: not tall, but slim; pale skin beginning to darken in the ship’s light — except for an angry red scoring on one cheek; wispy, fair hair tending to slide over grey wide-set eyes.

Not that I’d call my hair “wispy.” Oh no. Fine. That’s it.

A Thousand Words for Stranger by Julie E. Czerneda, Cover Art by Luis Royo
As you can see, Luis Royo captured Sira’s original hair perfectly, especially the soggy wet of this moment. However, The Hair didn’t stay this way.

But wait…

I’d given Sira my hair, not that I noticed doing it at the time, because I wanted her to (a) appear Human to all around her and (b) because I wanted Morgan (my other main character) to assume she was younger than she is. Little does he know…

Most of all, I needed Sira to become Clan.

I took one last look at the now cloudless sky, feeling just as empty and cold. I bit my lip until it hurt. I would not be controlled by some mindless force or instinct. I quivered with the effort to remain rational, calm, in command of myself. My hair stirred.

Stirred? I reached my hand cautiously upward only to snatch it back as a lock lifted softly to meet my fingers. Suddenly I was blinded by clouds of hair growing longer, lusher, vitalized by some life of its own.

I tried to contain the stuff into some kind of order, then ceased, helpless as hair wove itself about my fingers. Moments later, I found myself cautiously moving aside long strands which flowed with unfamiliar weight over and past my shoulders. By moons’ light, it was beautiful, glowing, with glints of deep gold.

Eventually, the stuff hung quiescent down to my waist, no longer crackling with life, at last behaving more like hair. But such hair! I stroked the heaviness of it with an almost guilty delight, distrustful of its origin.

When I finally settled beside Huido’s box for a hopefully uneventful sleep, I took some of my new hair in one hand and rubbed it slowly against my cheek, breathing its brand-new scent.

This Gulf of Time and Stars by Julie E. Czerneda, Cover Art by Matthew Stawicki
In-joke: For this flawless rendering of a mature Sira, for The Hair, Matthew Stawicki referred to the tentacles on Davy Jones in the Disney movie: Dead Man’s Chest.
In-joke: I told my hairdresser as she gave me my first pre-book release cut, for Thousand, how I’d arranged to give my main character The Hair every heroine seems to have, at least in romance novels. I didn’t tell her it was to make Sira less Human. She might not have understood.

You see, The Hair has opinions.

…[Rael] gazed down at her unconscious sister, eased her arm to better cradle Sira’s head and shoulders, and touched a loose strand of red-gold hair. After a second, the hair politely but firmly slid away from her fingers.

I felt a thrill of pain as my unresolvable fury tore at my inner controls. My hair squirmed on my shoulders as if it could reach out and wrap around [the enforcer’s]…throat.

This one change—hair that acted on its own—did everything I could ask. Sira immediately became something other, even to herself. Moreover, I could use The Hair to expose her innermost feelings: those she tried to hide; those she didn’t know or understand. An essential vulnerability. Not only did I intend for a deep, believable love to develop between Sira and Morgan, despite her efforts to deny and resist what was, to her kind, perilous, but Sira’s innate power and formidable will easily might have distanced her from both readers and other characters. With The Hair, I revealed what she dared not.

Light fingers stroked my hair, investigating its new fullness. I closed my eyes, not needing vision, feeling the living stuff quiver under Morgan’s touch, winding in soft whirls around his hand, slipping up his arm to whisper across his cheek.

The Hair, linked to Sira’s sexual maturity as Clan, became an enthused participant in anything to do with Morgan and I thoroughly enjoyed writing its naughty come-hither behaviour, particularly when it wasn’t at all appropriate and both were frustrated.

And, when it was.

A finger lifted in invitation. A lock of hair accepted, slipped around his hand and wrist, wove distractingly up his bare arm. I watched the blue of his eyes deepen, resisted the urge to lose myself in them. “What about the Council meeting?” I said, attempting to be responsible.  “We–”

The rest was lost beneath his lips–Later.–the kiss exquisitely tender and slow, as if he discovered the shape of my mouth for the first time.

Or wanted never to forget it.

In-joke: As a person who enjoys camping, I wrote some handy attributes to The Hair. Once wet, it would vibrate, then wring itself dry. Oh, and escape any fastening. There’s the ever-so-handy repelling of most dust and never needing a brush.

Final Note

As an author, there are times you type with heedless speed, caught in wondrous free-wheeling thoughts, only to produce what you sheepishly delete the next morning. Then there are the rarer mornings, when you reread and discover you’ve created something special, something vital to your characters and their story. For all the in-jokes and knowing smiles, The Hair—Sira’s magnificent red-gold tumble of misbehaving lush waves—was that special, vital something. Without its expressiveness, its sensual abandon, an entire meaningful layer of the Clan Chronicles wouldn’t exist and the story be poorer for it.

As for the Finale? I won’t spoil To Guard Against the Dark for you. Suffice to say, where there are Clan? There could be…The Hair. (And yes, I’ve had my pre-release cut. Quite snazzy, and well out of my eyes.)

In-joke: I was tempted to ignore the metal hairnet I’d mentioned once in passing in Thousand. After all, mysterious artifacts tended to spin out of control without serious world-building commitment. Instead, I jumped in to make the net a pivotal plot point in Stratification, key to a horrifying discovery, then later had it signal the growth in power in the Clan as Aryl uses it to bind her own strongly opinionated locks. The payoff? The net didn’t just work for hair, it became a link between all the books and time periods. You never know what will matter.
Clan Chronicles Series

About the Series:
The Clan Chronicles is set in a far future where a mutual 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, himself a talented telepath, 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 concludes the series, answering these question at last. Who are the Clan?

And what will be the fate of all?

Julie Czerneda
Photo Credit: Roger Czerneda Photography

About the Author:
For twenty years, Canadian author/former biologist Julie E. Czerneda has shared her curiosity about living things through her science fiction, published by DAW Books, NY. Julie’s also written fantasy, the first installments of her Night’s Edge series (DAW) A Turn of Light and A Play of Shadow, winning consecutive Aurora Awards (Canada’s Hugo) for Best English Novel. Julie’s edited/co-edited sixteen anthologies of SF/F, two Aurora winners, the latest being SFWA’s 2017 Nebula Award Showcase. Next out will be an anthology of original stories set in her Clan Chronicles series: Tales from Plexis, out in 2018. Her new SF novel, finale to that series, To Guard Against the Dark, lands in stores October 2017. When not jumping between wonderful blogs, Julie’s at work on something very special: her highly anticipated new Esen novel, Search Image (Fall 2018). Visit for more.

Against the Dark Giveaway Details

Fill out the form below to be entered to win Julie E. Czerneda’s latest book in hardcover, To Guard Against the Dark, plus a mass market of This Gulf of Time and Stars (US and Canada).

To enter the tour-wide giveaway of the entire nine-book series, click here.

Against the Dark Giveaway Rules: To be entered in the giveaway, fill out the form below OR send an email to kristen AT fantasybookcafe DOT com with the subject “Against the Dark Giveaway.” One entry per household and a winner will be randomly selected. Those from the United States or Canada are eligible to win this giveaway. The giveaway will be open until the end of the day on Tuesday, October 10. The winner has 24 hours to respond once contacted via email, and if I don’t hear from them by then a new winner will be chosen (who will also have 24 hours to respond until someone gets back to me with a place to send the book).

Please note email addresses will only be used for the purpose of contacting the winners. After the giveaway is over all the emails will be deleted.

Good luck!

Update: The form has been removed now that the giveaway is over.