Maria V. Snyder Interview

Fallen Angel Reviews would like to welcome Maria V. Snyder. Ms. Snyder is the author of a fantastic series at Luna.

To begin, can you tell us the hows and whys behind your world in Poison Study?
I was reading Orson Scott Card’s book, How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy. In chapter 3, Card tells the writer to consider some questions before choosing the main character. He wrote, “Too often - particularly in medieval fantasy - writers think their story must be about rulers. Kings and queens, dukes and duchesses - they can be extravagantly powerful, yes, but too often they aren’t free at all. If you understand the workings of power in human societies, you’ll know that the greatest freedom to act in unpredictable ways is usually found away from the centers of power.” This comment led me to think about a person who was close enough to the center of power to witness important events, yet not be the Prince or Princess. I thought about a food taster and a scene jumped into my mind. I saw a woman tasting food that was most likely poisoned through the eyes of the King. He watched her with heartbreaking horror because he had fallen in love with her. That led me to wonder about this woman. Who was she? Why was she there? Why would a King fall in love with her? And Poison Study was born. Of course changes occurred during the writing process. The Commander decided he was tired of fantasy novels with Monarchs and sent Valek to assassinate the entire royal bloodline.

I have read both Poison Study and Magic Study and thoroughly enjoyed them both. How did you put together the complicated relationships in the books?
I could use this question to sound smart and tell you I studied psychology and spent hours working on the characters relationships, but the truth is I'm an instinctive writer. As I write the story, the characters come alive and interact. I usually know what I want to happen in a scene, but how it plays out is never planned.

Do you outline? Or are you a seat of the pantser?
If you haven't already guessed from the previous answer, I'm definitely a "seat of the pantser." With being published, I have to write a synopsis to get approval on my books before I write them, and my editor knows there's a good chance the final product will not match the early synopsis.

Do you feel that you are a character-driven author or more plot-driven?
I think I'm more character driven. Characters interest me the most. How they react, what they do when under pressure, who they trust, all are more important to me than the actual plot. The plot evolves as I put my characters through the wringer and most of my plot twists are not planned--I'm as surprised by them as the reader.

Fire Study is coming in 2008, can you give us a peek?
I can give you a short synopsis here and refer you to this page of my website to read the first chapter. Here's the synopsis: FIRE STUDY: SURROUNDED BY FIRE WITH NO WAY TO ESCAPE THE BURN.
Yelena is coming to terms with magical power. She learns how magic can be used and abused, and realizes that just because you can do something with magic, doesn't always mean you should. As she tries to keep Ixia and Sitia from going to war, Yelena becomes embroiled in the desperate fight to stop the Daviian Clan from siphoning enough power to unleash a Fire Warper on the world. That would be a calamity. Especially since, of all the powers Yelena possesses, she couldn't set fire to a candle wick even if her life depended on it. And there is more at stake than just her life.

Do you have anything else in the works at this time?
Right now I'm working on a fourth Study novel (everyone can thank my editor for that :). We don't have a title right now, but the book will be coming out about six months after Fire. Yelena isn't the main character and I will explain more in the answer to your next question. I'm also doing an online serial novel for Starting March 1, the first chapter of Assassin Study will be up at this site: readers can read the chapter and then VOTE for what Valek does next. I tend to write the second chapter using the option with the most votes. So not only can readers read more about Valek, but they can participate in the story. The online read continues until chapter 5 which is scheduled to be on the website at the end of April. I also have a young adult science fiction novel in the works titled, Inside Out, but that book won't be on shelves until 2009.

Do you see an end to Yelena and her travels? Or are you letting the story continue on its own?
Fire Study wrapped up Yelena's adventures and her character development nicely and is why there is a new main protagonist in the next book. However, I won't say you'll never see Yelena again. Poison Study was supposed to be a stand alone novel and I ended up with three.

What would you say is the biggest change in your life since becoming a published author?
The biggest change is writing has become my full time job. Before I wrote for fun and now I have deadlines and need to spend a portion of my time promoting my books. It's still fun and the best part is getting emails from readers. I love hearing from readers and enjoy writing them back.

Have you had any embarrassing moments during a book signing?
Book signings have been a lot of fun and I've met some really nice people. I did have one lady who I was talking to about writing. She wanted to write children's books and I showed her where she could find resources for children's publishers. Well she started to cry and then proceeded to tell me all about her son, who had just started a jail sentence that day. She told me more detail than she should and I was at a complete loss for words. So as long as I know where the bathrooms are in the store (to direct customers to), I usually don't have any problems at book signings.

You recently took a trip through Europe, can you tell us a little bit about it?
I went to Amsterdam in The Netherlands with my family for five days. My husband needed to be there for work and since he missed my Masters’ graduation ceremony from Seton Hill University, he bought me and our kids tickets to Amsterdam. Our family enjoys traveling and we have been many places. I warned the kids about the 7.5 hour plane ride and my son said in a dismissive tone, "We've been to China, Mom. 7 and 1/2 hours is nothing." And he was right - obnoxious - but right. The city was beautiful and we spent time walking through the narrow cobblestone streets watching the citizens go through their day. There were bikes everywhere - A-dam is so flat that everyone bikes to work or to the train station. The canals were fascinating, and we took a tour through the city on a canal boat. I try and balance kid stuff with adult interests so we spent part of the first day at Nemo. It's an interactive kid’s museum focused on maritime activities and science. A-dam also has a nice zoo and aquarium. But we also went to the Van Gogh museum and the Anne Frank house. Over all it was a great trip. I would recommend visiting Europe in the winter time - although cold and rainy (one day), there are no lines at the museums and even the canal boats are enclosed and heated.

You have a newsletter as well as a website. Is there any place else fans can get information about you and your books?
I have done a number of online interviews. Google would be the best way to find them. I recently did a TV interview for Fast Forward in D.C. The interview will eventually be up on their website at: I will be on the Hour of the Wolf radio program on March 10, which I believe people can listen to through their website: I am planning to get a Myspace site in the near future - I'll have a link up on my website sometime in March.

Is there anything you'd like to add?
Poison Study is being re-released by MIRA on March 1. In promoting this release, MIRA is hosting a $500 Sweepstakes and also issuing $1 off coupons for the book. It has new cover art and will be in trade paperback size. Anyone on my newsletter list will get the coupon and info about the Sweepstakes by the end of February. And all the details about both will be on my website in the News section by March 1 - I'm hoping you'll be able to download the coupon from my site.

I also want to Thank You for interviewing me for your website, and for the wonderful reviews you have given my books!

Thank you again for joining us. If you'd like to learn more about Maria and her books you can visit her website.

Interviewed by: Serena