Today on Skiffy and Fanty, we have a guest post from Julie Czerneda about the forthcoming Tales From Plexis, an anthology set in her Clan Chronicles ’verse, including a cover reveal, art and photography done by her husband, Roger Czerneda.
Welcome to my Worlds. And to the cover reveal for a special project, years in the making. The Clan Chronicles: Tales from Plexis. Yes, it’s my newest anthology, but this one?
This one is yours too.
When I knew I’d complete the Clan Chronicles series in Book 9, To Guard Against the Dark, I came to a decision before I wrote a single word. I’d finish the story of Sira di Sarc and Captain Jason Morgan, of the Clan themselves, and Assemblers, and Huido and…a cast I loved deeply, as you did, dear readers.
The story I had to tell, that is. I asked Sheila Gilbert of DAW Books, responsible for all of these books and my career, if I could do an anthology of stories written by you, in my universe. I wanted to welcome you to play in the worlds of the Trade Pact, where it started, and where so many story opportunities remained. Create backstory. Add more about characters and events. Bring in your new characters and new events. Sheila waved me onward with delight. Pro rates, trade paperback/ebook publication. We were off!
To keep a focus within the anthology, all I asked of the authors was that their stories take place before or during Sira and Morgan’s first encounter, and be set, or touch Plexis Supermarket. If you haven’t read A Thousand Words for Stranger, Plexis is a former ore refining station, refitted into a wildly successful travelling shopping mall. While the notion originated from my need to get characters together in space and time in a reasonable manner, it turned into one of my favourite settings within the series.
It was an open call, meaning anyone could send me a story, and they poured in, wonderful hard-to-choose-between stories. I’m extremely proud of the result, certain you’ll love them, and I promise to blog about that process this fall.
But a book needs a cover. I’d thought to commission it, but as it happened I was able to put out an open call to artists too. Draw me Plexis! Pro or amateur, no problem. We’d work together. I’d provide all the information I had; DAW, of course, would have the final say.
Alas, unlike the stories, art did not pour in, nor did sketches or proposed concepts or anything much at all. I’m deeply grateful to the pair of professional artists who did send me their work, one with a completed interior view I quite enjoyed, but alas neither style suited this book or was right as part of the existing Clan Chronicles.
We were back to commissioning the cover art, now with six months less time.
Which is when I heard “I could do this for you.”
Literally heard, because the words came from Roger Czerneda, my other half and graphic artist/photographer.
Fair enough. I gave Roger the art package I’d prepared for anyone interested. Sheila gave him a deadline to present his concept sketch to her. In person, as it happened, because Sheila was coming to Ottawa as GOH for Can*Con. (Yes, I felt some sympathy.)
In fact, I’ll turn to Roger and ask him for you. (Another reason I #lovemylife)
Julie: You’ve done cover art before. What interested you about this one?
Roger: I saw no one else had stepped up to the plate and the clock was ticking. This was important to you. To all the authors. I’d read the books—I knew I could do the art. It was a matter of producing a Plexis that worked in the time left.
Julie: What was it like, showing your idea to Sheila? (I was in the kitchen trying very hard not to eavesdrop. Or giggle. Supportive, that’s me.)
Roger: I did some rough sketches with pen and paper while watching hockey. When Sheila asked to see those, I wasn’t nervous, but I wasn’t sure I was ready! Thank goodness she liked one of my concepts. It showed a closer, partial view of the station, to give the impact of its size. The next step was to create the real thing, pulling all the pieces I envisioned together, and that was great fun. Especially the part where I sent in the final and Sheila approved! (Julie: I loved it.)
Julie: There’s so much amazingly cool stuff within this art. How did you incorporate your photography into a futuristic space station?
Roger: Some photos I’d already taken, but I went out and took more with the intention of finding shapes and textures that fit my plan for the station. Most I manipulated in Photoshop first. For example, the books describe how starships dock within the opening the station once used to “eat” asteroids. To create my version of that part of Plexis, I went for a walk in downtown Ottawa and shot this building. Then I cropped a slice from the original, as you see here. Finally, I altered the perspectives of multiple slices to produce what appears as a ring of starship parking spots. I enjoyed the process so much, I’ll admit I was almost sorry to be done.
As you can see here, Tales from Plexis has a wonderful, evocative cover, full of the life and quirks that is Plexis to me. My thanks to all who contributed or thought about doing so, because that’s the greatest compliment to my worlds I could imagine. You even inspired me to write an unexpected novella frame story! (More on that another time.)
My thanks to Paul Weimer for cheering me along through to the finale of the Clan Chronicles, and for welcoming this new entry into it. Most of all, my thanks to Roger, my partner in all things, who did step up and made this an even more special project than I could have imagined.
About Julie E. Czernerda:
For over 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 written fantasy too, 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 numerous award-winning anthologies of SF/F, most recently SFWA’s 2017 Nebula Award Showcase. Out this fall is an all-original anthology written by fans of her Clan Chronicles series: Tales from Plexis. Her finale to that series, To Guard Against the Dark, was released in 2017. This fall will also see the return of her most beloved character, Esen the web shifter, in Search Image. Visit www.czerneda.com for more.
Roger Czerneda’s love of photography began in the 1970s when he worked at his uncle’s camera store. After obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Waterloo, Roger worked as an environmental chemist and computer programmer, all the while continuing to develop his photographic and graphic design skills. By 1986, Roger grabbed his camera and computer and began life as a professional, first in film and now totally digital. He’s made the leap from commercial and industrial photography to also express himself as a visual artist. Roger is drawn to subjects in the real world that inspire the imagination or that tell a story. www.photo.czerneda.com
Grand prize: full nine-book set of the Clan Chronicles series, with Reunification in Hardcover
Runner ups: 2 sets of the Trade Pact Trilogy.
To enter, comment on this post with an anthology that you’ve enjoyed reading. Deadline is end of day on May 31st.