Hi! My name’s Zachary (Zack) Jernigan, and I’m ridiculously, freakishly—perhaps even disturbingly—excited to be posting on The Night Bazaar (and on Thanksgiving, no less)! I’ve followed this blog for quite a while now, and I’ve been a fan of the authors Night Shade publishes for a lot longer than that. To be communicating with you right now because I have a book coming out from them seems like the coolest of all unlikelihoods.
Now, I understand if you’re not nearly as excited to be reading these words as I am to be writing them, but even if you’re only 0.5% as excited as me that’s still pretty excited. Which is awesome! I’m very grateful to you for taking the time out of your day to get to know me.
But where to begin? What’s interesting? What do I like to know about authors? Basic biographical and goofy stuff, sure, but also some serious writerly junk.
Anyway. Here goes…
I was born in Connecticut, but have no other connection to the state. I’ve lived in Northern Arizona, with occasional stints in other places, since 1990. I’m 32 years old as I write this, but I’ll be 33 on the day my novel comes out, March 5, 2013. I’ve shaved my head since 1998, when I first started fearing I’d lose my hair. Peanut Butter Puffins is the best cereal ever, though Froot Loops is a close second. I’m an absolute idiot for sitcoms from the 70s-90s. I have a BA in religious studies and an MFA in creative writing.
Other than reading, eating, and sleeping, my favorite activity of all time is riding around in a wheelchair. I kind of wish I was kidding, but I’m so not. I realize it’s an extreme social faux pas, and I try not to do it in front of a person who needs a wheelchair for their own mobility, but goodness I think it’s fun—far more fun than a bike or a skateboard. One of the happiest nights of my life was in my early 20s, when I found the courtesy wheelchair at work and discovered how easy it was to balance on the back wheels.
I also like riding horses, but they’re a bit more temperamental than wheelchairs.
Mario Kart is far and away the video game series I enjoy best.
As for reading, I’m an sff fan of the most loyally obsessive stripe. I’ve, literally, not read a single book in the last 7 years (since the end of my undergraduate career) whose author didn’t have a close relationship with the genre. I didn’t even go out of my way to unlock this achievement, of which I am unabashedly proud. It’s not that I think good things aren’t being written about the quotidian world; I just don’t care about them.
My favorite authors are Roger Zelazny, Alice Sheldon, Sean Stewart, Elizabeth Hand, Samuel Delany, Cordwainer Smith, Phyllis Gotlieb, David Anthony Durham, Terry Pratchett, and Joanna Russ.
When I’m writing—an activity I’m compelled to do but which I find to be far, far less enjoyable than reading—it’s these authors I’m trying and utterly failing to imitate. Why? Because each of them writes/wrote unabashedly within the genre while still kicking ass as wordsmiths. There’s no skimping on the spectacularly speculative entertainment or the emotional and intellectual challenge.
So, this writing I manage to do when I’m not reading, eating, sleeping, spinning around in a wheelchair, or finding yet another way to avoid actual work…
Since my first sale in 2009, I’ve had 13 short stories published in places such as Asimov’s Science Fiction, Crossed Genres, Murky Depths, and Escape Pod. I’ve been in a few anthologies, too. My second sale, an erotic story called “The Succession of Knoorikios Khnum” (which takes place in the same universe/setting as my upcoming novel), was shortlisted for a 2010 Spectrum Award and has been reprinted several times.
I’ve only written one novel, but I had so much help during the writing that I hardly feel taking responsibility for it is appropriate. (If you look at my acknowledgments in the published book—which I hope you do, of course—you’ll see just how many people I’m indebted to, and even then I’m sure I’ve forgotten to list a few…) It was both a surprise and no surprise at all, discovering just how hard it is to make 100,000+ words fit together into a cohesive whole. As much as I love it, I’m still not sure it is a cohesive whole.
When Night Shade bought No Return, I was stunned. I’m still stunned—stunned and thrilled and scared, but mostly humbled into near speechlessness. Jason, Jeremy, and co. publish hugely talented people.
Like, whoa, HUGELY TALENTED PEOPLE… and… Zachary Jernigan?
Oh, well, I guess the folks at Night Shade know what they’re doing. I hope they do. Ross Lockhart surely made my story better with his awesome editorial suggestions, but it’s not always easy to see the merits of something you’re so close to. Still, I like it. I wrote the kind of novel I wanted to read.
I realize I’m going on a little long here, so I’ll try to wrap things up by telling you at least a little bit about my novel—a little bit that hopefully counterbalances the doubt about my talent I’ve probably lodged in your brain.
The tagline I came up for No Return is: BATTLE SUITS, MEN MADE OF METAL, AND ALCHEMICAL ASTRONAUTS. Which I think is pretty cool, because, really, who doesn’t love those three things? In my novel, I placed a heavy emphasis on cool-looking characters with cool powers doing cool things in cool settings—real epic science fantasy stuff without the epic length. Yet despite my characters’ sometimes demigodlike superpowers, I’ve tried damn hard to make my them read like actual people dealing with actual problems that have actual consequences.
Plus, there’s a lot of sex in the book—a lot of sex and an even greater amount of violence. I think it’ll appeal to people who like the mature genre-expanding works of writers like China Mieville, Martha Wells, M. John Harrison, and Bradley P Beaulieu. I hope, at its best, it evokes classic New Wave mythologies of Samuel Delany and Roger Zelazny.
But wait a minute. Why am I trying to sell this myself? Here are two of the blurbs I’ve gotten, from people far more trustworthy and knowledgeable than I:
“A visionary, violent, sexually charged, mystical novel—No Return challenges classification. Clearly, Zachary Jernigan has no respect for genre confines. His tale of gods hanging in the sky and a “constructed man” with glowing blue coals for his eyes and a motley band of fighters navigating a harsh landscape peopled by savage creatures and religious zealots… Well, it’s pure genius. Here’s hoping it’s just the first of many such works from this guy.” – David Anthony Durham, Campbell Award-winning author of the Acacia Trilogy
“Zachary Jernigan’s genre-defying epic raises the bar for literary speculative fiction. It has the sweep of Frank Herbert’s Dune and the intoxicatingly strange grandeur of Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun, with a decadent, beautifully rendered vision all its own. One of the most impressive debuts of recent years.” – Elizabeth Hand, Nebula and World Fantasy Award-winning author of Available Dark and Radiant Days
Anyway, for a full synopsis and character illustrations, some free fiction, and ways to get ahold of me, please stop by zacharyjernigan.com and take a look around.
Thanks for reading! Maybe next week I’ll have cover art to show you.
Oh! I nearly forgot something!
In case you miss it on my website, know that for now into the foreseeable future I promise to send you something in the mail (could be promo material for my novel, a mix-CD, a free book/magazine, or anything else I think is cool) if you pre-order/order No Return, review No Return, or do any other thing that involves No Return.
Just send an email to email@example.com with a link (or copied text from a retailer) to show me what you’ve done, your physical address (US only), and any other words you’d like me to read. And then BAM!—a cool thing will show up in your mail around the release date of March 5th, 2013 (or later, should you do any of this after release).
NOTE: Though I haven’t the money to mail things outside the US, please don’t feel left out! I’ll still go to some effort for you, like make you a personal mix-CD and email it to you.Read More...