A little while ago I was given two series by my sister to read The Study Series and The Healer Series. Both of which I instantly fell in love with. Maria V. Snyder has created these magical worlds that captured my heart. So imagine what I felt when one of my favorite authors gave me the chance to do an author interview with her and talk on the blog! So let's get to it!
- Hi Maria, thank you so much for agreeing to stop by the blog to do an interview with us! Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Thank you for inviting me! As for me, I grew up in Philadelphia, PA and I’ve always had a fascination with storms so I earned a meteorology degree from Penn State University. Unfortunately, forecasting the weather wasn’t in my skill set, so I went to work as an environmental meteorologist, which wasn’t as exciting. While bored at work, I started writing and really enjoyed it. My first book, Poison Study was published in 2005 and I’ve had 11 more since then. I returned to school and earned my Masters degree in writing and now teach at Seton Hill University’s MFA program. I’ve two kids, a cat, and still live in Pennsylvania.
- Tell us a little bit about your past series The Study Series or The Healer Series.
The Study Series starts with my first book Poison Study and is about Yelena who becomes the poison taster for a military dictator. Her adventures don’t end there - as she attempts to find a way to escape her deadly position, she also helps figure out who is trying to get to the dictator and avoids getting herself killed. The other two books, Magic Study and Fire Study continue her adventures. The books are fantasy, but I like to call them fantasy lite as they’re not dense like Lord of the Rings, but rather focus on the characters and Yelena is a stubborn and strong protagonist. I’m writing more books in the Study series and the first of the new set, Shadow Study will be out February 24, 2015.
The Healer books are about Avry, the last healer alive after a deadly plague has decimated two thirds of the population. The healers of this world have been blamed for the plague. The first book is Touch of Power and it starts with her being captured after three years on the run. About to be executed, she is rescued by a group of men who need her to heal their friend. The series, which continues with Scent of Magic and Taste of Darkness follows Avry as she attempts to heal her world from the lawless chaos that has ensued since the plague.
Your readers are welcome to read the first chapter of all my books on my website at: http://www.mariavsnyder.com/books.php
- What was your inspiration to writing these series, how did you come up with the worlds that they lived in?
With Poison Study - it started as a stand alone novel. 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 person she was protecting. 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 this man fall in love with her? And Poison Study was born. Of course, things changed as I wrote it but this is what sparked the idea.
For the Healer Series, I had this vague idea about a healer or an apprentice healer during an epidemic. She was either going to be sought after for her powers – like everyone wanting her, or be hunted. I wasn’t sure. Then one night my daughter couldn’t sleep and she wanted me to tell her a story. She knew all my other books, so I started telling her about this healer. And every night, she’d ask, “What’s next?” That’s why Touch of Power is dedicated to my daughter.
- The cover’s from both series are beautiful, how did you decide what you wanted them to look like?
I wish I could take credit for the covers, but Harlequin, my publisher has a whole art department dedicated to creating beautiful and engaging covers. The photographers, models, and digital designers get all the credit!
- Who was your most favorite character to write/ create in any of your books, why? Who was the most difficult to write?
I used to say Valek, the assassin and main male protagonist in the Study books, however, I’m having a ton of fun writing Janco, a soldier with a quirky sense of humor and an skewed view on life who is in all the Study and Glass books (which a spin off from Fire Study), and a few of my Study short stories (which are free to read online at http://www.mariavsnyder.com/shortstories.php). Janco and his partner Ari are back in Shadow Study and short sections of the book are from Janco’s point of view. So, yeah, Janco is my favorite!
As for most difficult, that would be Devlen from my Glass Series. He refused to follow my plan for him. He was the antagonist in Storm Glass and he was supposed to be defeated and go away for a very long time. He didn’t. No, he had other plans and once he was free from his addiction to magic, he decided he was going to atone for his actions and just screw up all my plans! After struggling with him through Sea Glass and Spy Glass, I finally made peace with him and he is now one of my favorite characters.
- What drew you to writing this genre of books? Have you always liked the medieval-ish realm?
I enjoy reading this genre and like the challenge of writing characters who don’t have cell phones or cars or guns. I like horses and swords and men in uniform ;> and when I sparked on the idea for Poison Study, the more medieval-ish setting fit perfectly for the story and plot. I like how you used the “ish” to describe my books! I’ve had people complain that my word choices are too modern for the time period and I have to remind them that the book isn’t set in the Middle Ages, but rather in a fantasy world that doesn’t exist because I like equal rights for women and things like soap and syringes in my Healer books.
- What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Before I start a novel, I search through my three baby book names and write down one girl and one boy name for every letter of the alphabet. I choose names I like, plus ones that has an interesting meaning. Then when I’m writing and have a new character, I go to my list and pick a name for him or her.
- What are some of your favorite YA books? What do you like about them? Either new or old.
I really enjoyed the Morganville Vampire Series by Rachel Caine because of the characters. The main protagonist, Claire is smart and resourceful and I love the rest of her friends and boyfriend! The first book is Glass Houses. Another series I’m loving is the Edge series by Illona Andrews. I’m not sure they’re considered YA, but if you liked my Study books, then you’ll like these. On The Edge is the first and I enjoyed the relationship between the two main characters. As you can probably guess, characters are what I find to be the most important aspect of any story.
- Can you share a little of your current work with us and possible upcoming projects.
My next release will be Shadow Study on February 24, 2015, which is a continuation of the Study Series. The events of the story pick up about six months after Spy Glass and six years after Fire Study. I have chapters from both Yelena and Valek’s point of view as they hunt down smugglers and dodge assassins and rogue magicians. I’m working on the next book, Night Study right now and there will be a third, which is currently untitled. I don’t have anything planned after these books. I’ll figure that out when I get close to finishing that third book.
- Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers.
I’d like to thank them for all their wonderful support! And for spreading the word about my books to friends, family members, and strangers in the bookstore :) that’s the best way to keep an author in business. I’d also like to tell potential new readers to check out my website as I have the first chapter of every book I’ve written available to read along with six free short stories to read. You can access it here: http://www.mariavsnyder.com
Twitter: I don’t tweet :)