Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Interview with author Maria V. Snyder

Maria V. Snyder
is the author of some of my favorite books of all time: the Study Trilogy and the Glass Trilogy.

Her website here.

click on each book to read our reviews:

Sea Glass released August 25th, 2009!
Click here to enter the SEA GLASS CONTEST!

You took several glassblowing classes as research for your novels. What was that experience like?

Working with molten glass looks easier than it really is – ever see a demo? Our teacher make it look so natural, and then when it was my turn – yikes! It's HOT! Digging into the big vat of molten glass which is kept in a rip roaring hot furnace at a toasty 2100 degree Fahrenheit was an adventure in itself and a little scary. But once I got the hang of it, I wasn't as skittish of the heat and made a few cool-looking paperweights (which is everyone's first project).
Blowing glass was another adventure, and I discovered I'm not very windy :) I had a hard time "thumbing a bubble" which is blowing air through the metal blowpipe and creating a bubble into your glob of glass. It's the first step to make vases and tumblers and bowls.
I learned it takes A LOT of patience, hand-eye coordination and a good partner to make items that don't look like they dropped out of the wrong end of a horse :) It's a good thing I have a day job :)

How has your extensive traveling affected your writing?

Every thing I do and every place I visit is all fodder for my imagination - even if it's to the local grocery store :) Traveling has opened my eyes to the different cultures and customs of various countries. I will learn odd bits of history or some local superstition that will appear in my books in some form or another. For example, after traveling to China, I wrote a short story about a town that was very superstitious, and about a young lady who was terrified of the new weather wizard that had arrived in town. The story was inspired by all the stories of gods and spirits that are part of their history and culture. The story is titled, Cursing the Weather and I sold it to Black Gate Magazine. The story isn't out yet and I hope to see it soon.

What role has your interest in weather and meteorology had in your writing?

The weather didn't have a big role in my Study books. Although I did have a few references throughout the books that only another meteorologist would understand. In fact, I had a college friend and meteorologist email me when he read Poison Study, asking about one of them and I was thrilled he saw it :)
In Storm Glass, my meteorology background obviously has a bigger role :) I’m often asked what sparked the idea for the Stormdancers. It was during the 2005 hurricane season. A record season for hurricanes with four Category 5 hurricanes (Emily, Katrina, Rita and Wilma). The 2005 season caused $180 billion in damage and killed approximately 2,280 people. Hurricanes release a ton of energy in one day. Enough energy to meet the electrical generating needs of the entire world for 200 days.

The 2005 season had me asking, What if? What if we could harvest that storm energy and use it? Turn big and nasty Katrina into a mild soaking rainstorm? The answers lead me to another boatload of potential conflicts. Who decides what the energy is used for? Do they sell the energy? Share it or just use if for their factories?

How do you come up with the awesome names for your characters/places/things?

I'm going to cheat on this one :) I wrote a whole article about how I name characters and places and it's on my website at this link: http://www.mariavsnyder.com/advice/naming.php

Your idea of magic in Sitia and Ixia is very unique. What inspired you to create this world?

Once Poison Study was written, I realized the world of Ixia is a combination of my 12 years attending Catholic School, where we all wore uniforms, and the business practices of the company my husband works for. In his company, everyone wears a uniform, even upper management, and everyone sits in a large open-spaced room. There's no "good-old boy" network or special treatment to anyone. I really admired their way of treating their employees. Sitia is a more a standard fantasy convention, with the clans making up a council.

What is your writing process?

I'm what's known as a "seat of the pants" writer (a.k.a. pantser). I like to discover the plot and twists as I write. However, I usually have a general idea of where and how the book will end, but I wouldn't write it out until I reach that point, because it can always change.
This method is fun, but very stressful as I usually spend the first half of the book worried I don't have enough story for a full novel and then spend the last half of the book worried I have too much.

Specifically, how do you create the intense fight scenes in your novels?

I trained in Isshinryu Karate for a number of years, earning a brown belt before having children :) My teacher always focused on self-defense, because he knew any trouble we would get into out in the "real" world wouldn't be a classic boxing match. It would be quick and dirty and as he liked to say, "hit and git!" (which Janco also likes to say :) I also learned how to fight with a bo staff and sais.
My training is integral to the fight scenes. I will actually get up from my desk and grab my bo or sais and "act out" a fight scene. I want to make them as realistic as possible and not like the unrealistic "movie" fights.

When reading one of your books, I noticed that Opal's parents, Jaymes and Vyncenza, have names similar to your own parents, James and Vincenza. Is there a reason for this? Do any other characters share traits with people from your life?

You're the first person to point that out! When I was writing Fire Study, I needed names for Opal's parents. At that time, I thought Opal and her parents would be minor characters and never been seen again so I used my parents' names. Remember I'm a pantser - I discover as I go, and next thing I know I have two novels about Opal - lol!
I do take traits from various people I know and incorporate them into my characters - sometimes it's a conscious decision and sometimes it isn't. As I said before - everything is fodder, including people :) I also been using names of my readers in my books. I'll have a minor character in a scene and need to give him/her a name and I'll pick a name of a reader who I've been emailing or met at a convention. For example, Tebbs in Sea Glass is the last name of an email friend who offered to design bookmarks for me. Tricky is the nickname of a friend who went to Seton Hill with me - and he is actually funny and nice! Chun was my critique partner at Seton Hill. I think it's fun and I've gotten a couple excited emails about it :)

What are some of your favorite YA books?

When I was growing up, I loved to read Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. Back then there wasn't a YA section in the bookstore or library. Now, I've been enjoying Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series, Rachel Caine's Morganville Vampire series, Rachel Vincent's My Soul to Take, Pearl North's Libyrinth is an excellent book, and a friend of mine turned me on to Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy by L.A. Meyer.

What do you feel is most unique about your writing?

This is a hard question :) I think I'm very conscientious of keeping everything realistic. Besides the magical element, I endeavor to portray events and characters as accurately as possible. When Yelena learns how to pick locks, it's the way a locksmith would do it and not the "movie" version. I make sure the horses are fed and watered and rested - that they don't turn into super horses that can go all day without a break and then just magically disappear when the character arrives in town. I call them "stow and go" horses. :) And I make sure everything is logical and there are no holes in the plot - well my husband has a lot to do with this, he won't tolerate any unexplained coincidences or vague explanations, if it doesn't add up, he'll tell me :)

How do you develop the relationships in your novels?
As a pantser, the relationships develop themselves. I put my characters through all kinds of horrible situations and see how they react to the situation and to each other.


I never intended for Valek and Yelena to become a couple, but as I worked on Poison Study, they decided to get together. I had been thinking of the Commander and Yelena, but you know how that work out! He surprised me!

MARIA V. SNYDER was interviewed AUGUST 16th, 2009 by READING ROCKS.


  1. HEHE, Okay, I LURV the tidbit about Yelena and Valek, HELLO! That rocks and is a great scene:) AW!

    Okay, I also think its CRAZY Bad Ace that Maria learned how to fight and use weapons, wow! Good question too, cuz who would have thought about that???

    Last and not least, I love the Janco, "hit and git" present too!

    It's always fun to learn more about the characters, especially when you grow to heart them:)

    Lindsey Martin

  2. Maria Snyder is one of my favorite authors and I love every one of her novels. She doesn't disappoint. I love the world that she's created, it's a breath of fresh air. I can't wait to read Sea Glass and I'm looking forward to reading her YA novel Inside Out!


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