Maria V Snyder is the New York Times best-selling author of the Study Series, which includes her first published novel Poison Study.
Snyder grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where she earned a Bachelor of Science (Meteorology) and she was working as a meteorologist until, as a young mother, she began writing down story ideas and produced Poison Study. Her skills as a meteorologist helped her to produce her Storm series, which began with Storm Glass.
Snyder has also released a two book sci-fi series, Inside Out and Outside In, and has a new series coming out at the moment, starting with her 2012 release A Touch of Power and a sequel Scent of Power expected out next year.
She lives in Pennsylvania with her family, and a black cat named Valek.
Now let’s have a chat with Maria V Snyder:
RB: What was the first story you ever wrote? Do you still have it?
MvS: The first story I wrote was a cheesy science fiction short story about a teen who stows away on a space ship. It was titled, Every Good Boy Deserves Favor, and I still have a copy of it. It’s as bad as I remembered 🙂
RB: You often write blogs giving advise about writing and publishing. What’s the hardest part about getting a book published? How did you deal with rejections, and learn to move on from them? Have you gotten a rejection since Poison Study?
MvS: The hardest part is getting noticed by the right editor. There are so many publishers out there and most will only take agented submissions that is very difficult to connect with editors. Rejections are always disheartening and the “close call” rejections are the hardest to recover from. I dealt with it by having my next submission ready to go, so when editor X rejected my book, I sent it back out right away. I have gotten rejections since Poison Study was published. In fact, I had a short story rejected a couple months ago. It’s part of the business and writers need to remember they’re not being rejected, but the story. Some stories are better than others.
RB: Do you have someone in particular that you go to to talk out book ideas and stumbling points? Outside your publisher of course.
MvS: My agent has been a wonderful sounding board and so has my critique partner. I usually don’t like to talk about a book with others while I’m writing, but I seek feedback from my husband and daughter once the book is finished.
RB: Obviously you enjoy writing YA fiction but you also had a (successful) crack at YA sci-fi.
MvS: What is your favourite genre to read and if you could write anything what would it be?I read widely and don’t have a favorite genre, although I lean towards fantasy and science fiction. If I could write anything…I’d like to write a picture book.
RB:As an adult, why do you write YA novels? Is it a child at heart thing, or do you just write it and let someone else label it?
MvS: I never consciously sat down and said I want to write YA. When I wrote Poison Study, I was thinking it would be for adults and I wrote a book that I would enjoy reading. When I finished, my niece Amy asked to read it. She was 14 at the time and a voracious reader. She read it in a weekend and loved it – that’s when I thought that I could sell/market it to teens.
Eventually it was published as an adult title in the USA. But I kept getting emails from teens who enjoyed the story. All my books have a cross-over appeal and in the UK and Australia, I’m published as a YA author. I think that time in a person’s life is such a transition from teen to adult, and more exciting than when you’re older.
RB: When do you think children’s novels become YA novels and YA novels become adult novels? Is it the age of the audience or the protagonist.
MvS: The age of the protagonist has always been the determination of the market. If you have a 10 to 12 year old, then it’s considered a middle grade novel. However some edgier themes and harsh subjects like drugs and violence will push a book into an older category even if the protagonist is younger.
RB: How long does it usually take for an idea to turn into a published book? Do you have a regular schedule?
MvS: It can be a couple years from idea into book as I have to write a synopsis of the idea and my editor has to agree and get approval from her boss. Once I’m writing, it takes me about six months to write a first draft, then two more months for revisions. Then I have to do line edits and go over pre-publication proofs, which can take another two months.
I try to keep to a schedule when I’m writing. I write from 10 pm to 3 am every night and will take weekends off unless my deadline is looming, then I’ll work through the weekends. I love writing at night, the phone doesn’t ring, no one is asking me to located lost items or feed them 🙂
RB: Where does your inspiration come from?
MvS: Everywhere! I get ideas from TV, movies, magazines, newspapers, my kids, from traveling, from talking to people, from taking classes, etc… I don’t lack for ideas, but time.
RB: Touch of Power was your latest release, and it was so delicious that it has left me craving more. Can you tell us what Avry can expect to face in the next installmentScent of Magic?
MvS: In Scent of Magic, Avry is on a mission to reconnect with her sister. She decides to capitalize on everyone believing she is X (I don’t want to spoil this for anyone who hasn’t read Touch of Power – if you read it, you’ll know what X is :), by going undercover in Estrid’s army as they prepare for war with Tohon. What I’m excited about in this book are the scenes from Kerrick’s point of view as he faces a new threat from the north. I haven’t done this before so I’m nervous as well – but I knew my readers would want to know what he’s up to while Avry’s playing soldier. And those scenes ending up being so fun to write!
RB: Are you working on anything else (something secret that you’re dying to tell us about) at the moment?
MvS: I’m working on revising Scent of Magic right now. Then I’m going to work on revisions for a middle grade novel titled, Storm Watcher that I just sold to Leap Books, a small press! I’ve been trying to find a publisher for that book for years – so it needs a good re-write. Then I have to start Taste of Death the third book in the Healer series. Sorry, no big news right now, but I might have some in the fall ;>
Avery from A Touch of Power has popped in to chat with us:
RB: You made some hard choices and hefty sacrifices in Touch of Power, how do you balance your desire to heal with your sense of self-preservation?
Avery: It is a hard balance, but what I try to look at the bigger picture. If I didn’t step up and heal a person at the cost of my life, what would happen? If the person isn’t vital to our survival, then I can’t sacrifice myself for them. Because truthfully, I can save more people by remaining alive. It’s hard, but my world has been turned upside down and I’ll do everything I can to get it back on track and save more lives in the long run.
RB: Your would-be abductees Kerrick, Belen and the others are sweethearts. Were you ever really frightened about what they wanted you for? What do you love best about each of them?
Avery: I did have moments of terror. Belen is as big as a bear and Kerrick’s scowls can kill small animals. Of course, once I got to know them, I relaxed, however I was scared about healing Ryne. Belen is Poppa Bear and we all love him because of his protective instincts and kindness. The monkeys are silly and have a knack for breaking the tension. Flea is like an overgrown puppy dog, sweet and loveable. And Kerrick, well, I’d never call Kerrick a sweetheart, it’s way more complicated with him 🙂
RB: During Touch of Power you encounter a range of magical powers. Apart from healing is there one you’d love to have, and which one do you fear most?
Avery: I think Kerrick’s forest magic is very useful when traveling. Truthfully, I don’t know much about the other powers as the magicians tend to be very secretive about what they can do. I fear Tohon the most – he can kill with a touch, and it has warped his mind!
RB: Your author puts you through a lot in her books, is there anything you’d like to say to her?
Avery: I have a few choice words for her about Flea, but I don’t think it would be polite to post them. So I’ll just say, you’re evil and I’d better get a vacation at the end of all this or I’ll send the monkeys to live at your house.
MvS: Thank you for inviting me! If your readers would like more info about me and my books, I have the first chapter of all my books on my website as well as a number of free short stories they can read. Here’s the link: http://www.mariavsnyder.com And my blog is: http://officialmariavsnyder.blogspot.com
You can find books by Maria V Snyder at most bookshops, check out my reviews of her books here, and don’t forget to get your hands on Scent of Power in 2013