I’m delighted to be part of the blog tour for Aurora Award–winning author Julie E. Czerneda’s next fantasy book and twentieth published novel, The Gossamer Mage! To celebrate its release on August 6, Penguin Random House is giving away a set of 18 books signed by Julie E. Czerneda—including all nine Clan Chronicles novels and the Species Imperative trilogy—and I have a guest post by her to share with you today!

The Gossamer Mage - Julie E. Czerneda - Book Cover
Cover Art by Katie Anderson
Concept by Roger Czerneda


From an Aurora Award-winning author comes a new fantasy epic in which one mage must stand against a Deathless Goddess who controls all magic.

Only in Tananen do people worship a single deity: the Deathless Goddess. Only in this small, forbidden realm are there those haunted by words of no language known to woman or man. The words are Her Gift, and they summon magic.

Mage scribes learn to write Her words as intentions: spells to make beasts or plants, designed to any purpose. If an intention is flawed, what the mage creates is a gossamer: a magical creature as wild and free as it is costly for the mage.

For Her Gift comes at a steep price. Each successful intention ages a mage until they dare no more. But her magic demands to be used; the Deathless Goddess will take her fee, and mages will die.

To end this terrible toll, the greatest mage in Tananen vows to find and destroy Her. He has yet to learn She is all that protects Tananen from what waits outside. And all that keeps magic alive.

Success = S.C.T.
by Julie E. Czerneda

I’ve been writing science fiction and fantasy novels (thank you, Sheila Gilbert and all at DAW Books) for many years now. I make my living at it, have wonderful friends within the writing and reading community, and definitely can say I #lovemylife.

Success, in real terms.

While it’d be impressive to say I planned it all, using some great strategy that continues to play out exactly as intended? Wow, that’d be an inspiring Ted Talk, but wouldn’t be true. I’ve muddled along, happily writing the stories I wanted to write, riding the ups and downs of a writerly budget (oh look, loot, everyone gets new shoes!), while utterly convinced at Some Point, Some One would notice I was having far too much fun and tell me to STOP. Yes, in all caps.

Safe so far. Whew!

The Gossamer Mage Book Cover
Cover Art by Katie Anderson
Concept by Roger Czerneda

Still, even I’m a smidge curious, especially with The Gossamer Mage being my twentieth published novel. How’d that happen? More specifically, had I a strategy after all? An unconscious competence? A thing? (I’m not a believer in luck, btw.)


I’ve a few personal quirks. Everyone does. Mine might be yours too. Learning new things makes me giddy. Creating something new makes me joyful. Hard work? Bring it on!

Put those together, and you have a pretty good idea why our family is accustomed to biology trivia over supper. They also regard my muffins, subject to constant experimentation, warily and expect me to move the furniture around (or walls or trees) when no one’s looking. Often in February, but that’s another conversation.

Let me hasten to reassure you. My muffins haven’t made anyone ill (yet) and I’m a contented, happy person. I just require a certain amount of S.C.T.—sweaty creative tinkering—in my day. That challenge to make things better. Who doesn’t?

I need it in my writing too. Looking back, I can spot the moments when I decided it was high time to move a figurative wall. Try something I’d never done before. What I’d no idea I could or even how. Do some sweaty creative tinkering.

Case in point. Third person.

Much as I enjoyed English classes, viewing them as the way new-to-me books arrived in my lap, I’m a biologist at heart. When courses conflicted, I chose science and math (and philosophy, but that was February too). My education in language is therefore informed by what I like to read and have read than, well, knowing how myself. I wrote my first four books in “first person” oblivious to there being another choice or really what that was. I just liked it, and it was handy. After all, telepathy works easier if you’re the head in question. Then there’s Esen’s internal babble—how better? I’d bits of the third person thing, but only bits.

In the Company of Others Book Cover
Cover Art by Luis Royo

Still…I felt the twitch. The challenge to do better. When I tackled In the Company of Others, I decided it would be in third person throughout and let the sweaty creative tinkering begin!

It was terrifying. Exhilarating. Hard. I was so happy! WHOOO! Look at me, doing he and she!

I went back to first person for two more books, already knowing what my next creative tinkering would be.

Species Imperative Book Cover
Cover Art by Kenn Brown

I’d write a galaxy-spanning SF EPIC! In, let me add, third person. AND, for the first time ever, I’d set it partly on Earth. Thus Species Imperative came to be.

It was terrifying. Exhilarating. Not as hard, because this time I wrote about salmon which I’d studied when not writing fiction, but harder, because I wrote about real places, like New Zealand, I’d never seen. I was even happier! WHOOOOOOO! Another first? Staying in the same story for three years!

I’ll confess, I was sad to leave, but it was time to try something new. Something I wasn’t sure I could do.

Was it February? Might have been, as I recall.

Reap the Wild Wind Book Cover
Cover Art by Luis Royo

That something? Going back to my very first, first person novel, A Thousand Words for Stranger. Recapturing the feel of it, the tone and details, in order to write a three book prequel to begin what would become the nine book Clan Chronicles.

I almost faltered. I hadn’t done first person in ages. I didn’t remember how to write as my first novel younger self. I found I couldn’t. I wasn’t that person or that writer.

That’s when it occurred to me I didn’t need to be. Stratification should be its own story. Had its own unique world(s) to build. Trusting myself, challenging myself, I plunged into the sweatiest creative tinkering of my writerly life. I invented new ways to organize information. Outlined. Wrote with new phrasing. Brought in worldbuilding detail I’d learned from Species Imperative. Third person, people. Yup. That too.

When it all came together? Best. Feeling. Ever.

I’m going to post elsewhere about my next February adventure, writing my first fantasy. Suffice to say here, having pondered my quirks? I see that for me the most satisfying feeling when I finish a book is knowing I can do better with the next one. I have. I will. Challenging myself to do so is what has kept me contented and happy and, yes, successful as a writer.

Plus sweaty. And occasionally terrified. With joy.

Those feelings keep me excited to be writing. In fact, I’m in the midst of more sweaty creative tinkering, involving a story within a story that folds back on itself and I’ve no idea if it’ll work or not—

Hey, look at me! New thing! Yup. #lovemylife

Julie E. Czerneda
Photo by Roger Czerneda Photography


What is magic? As imagined by Julie E. Czerneda, it’s wild and free, a force of nature and source of wonder. She first explored this theme in her Night’s Edge series, starting with the award-winning Turn of Light. In The Gossamer Mage, Julie goes further, envisioning magic not only as integral to landscape and history, but well aware what we’re doing with it. That tie between us and other, the profound changes we make by connecting, have always informed her work, be it fantasy or science fiction.

Mage is Julie’s twentieth novel published by DAW Books, and she couldn’t be more proud to belong to this esteemed publishing family. For more about Julie and her work, please visit czerneda.com.