Book Nerd Interview
Maria V. Snyder switched careers from meteorologist to novelist when she began writing the New York Times best-selling Study Series (POISON STUDY, MAGIC STUDY and FIRE STUDY) about a young woman who becomes a poison taster. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, Maria dreamed of chasing tornados and even earned a Bachelors of Science degree in Meteorology from Pennsylvania State University. Unfortunately, she lacked the necessary forecasting skills. So she worked as an environmental meteorologist until boredom and children drove her to write down the stories that have been swirling around in her head. Writing, proved to be more enjoyable than meteorology, and Maria returned to school to earn a Master of Arts degree in fiction writing from Seton Hill University. Unable to part company with Seton Hill and its wonderful writing program, Maria is currently a teacher and mentor for the MFA program.
What fiction most influenced your childhood, and what effect did those stories have on your writing?
I grew up reading Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys mysteries and then transition to Dick Francis, Ed McBain, Agatha Christie and Robert Parker. Since I loved mysteries growing up, I think that’s the reason all my books have a mystery/suspense element. I didn’t start reading science fiction and fantasy until I was in high school.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I wanted to be an actress. I loved dressing up and being on stage. However, I lacked the confidence that is needed to pursue that as a career, so I went into meteorology. I always loved big storms and when I learned about the science of weather in the 6th grade, I decided that was for me. I had hoped to chase storms, but I wasn’t very good at forecasting.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My writers group. Every month, I handed them a chapter of my first book, Poison Study and every month they would critique it and give me feedback. By the end of 3 years, I was apologizing for giving them yet another chapter because, by then, I was sick and tired of the story. But they never complained and encouraged me to keep submitting chapters. They not only improved the story, but kept me motivated.
When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
I always enjoyed being creative since I was little. According to my mother, I had two invisible friends J. I also played cello in the orchestra, took art classes, acted in the school plays, danced, and was part of the stage crew. I just didn’t think I’d be able to get a job in those fields, and since I was also good at math and science, I went in that direction because being independent and able to support myself was/is very important to me.
What is the hardest part of writing?
All the details. If it was up to me, my books would all be action and dialogue! J Having to describe places and people and what they’re wearing is all so…tedious. Yes, I know it’s important, but it’s hard!
The settings for Touch of Power is quite unique and fascinating. What gave you the idea?
I knew I wanted to have countries or regions that were either at war or close. For this book, I had to create my map first in order to keep track of where the characters were going since they travel quite a bit. I wrote a blog called Map Quest about how I made the map. It includes the various stages of my map from outline to details. You can read it here: http://seeingnight.blogspot.com/2012/01/author-guest-post-giveaway-touch-of.html
What inspired you to write this particular book?
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.
What part of Avry did you enjoy writing the most?
Her stubborn refusal to heal the sick prince – it created a lot of conflict. I tend to write strong female protagonists – I can’t help it and Avry is one of them. Not only stubborn, but smart and independent. I just can’t write about weak characters who are passive. It wouldn’t be any fun.
Which character was your favorite to write? What about the hardest to write?
Janco from my Study and Glass books was my favorite to write. He’s so much fun and has such a quirky view on life. The hardest had to be Opal in the Glass books. She starts out lacking self-confidence and, as you read in the other question, I like strong characters. But I wanted Opal to be different than Yelena from the Study books and have a more sensitive/artistic side. Opal does grow and change, becoming more confident, but she was hard to work with J.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I’ve just finished Scent of Magic, which is book 2 in the Healer series. In SOM, Avry is in a unique position because at the end of TOP – everyone except Kerrick thinks she's....X (I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't read the book yet ;) and she's going to use that to her advantage. Her biggest goal is to repair her relationship with her sister, so she returns to Estrid's army, but this time on her terms. Meanwhile, Kerrick has rejoined Prince Ryne and they’re about to march south to hook up with Estrid's army when trouble from the north causes them to split their forces. The unique thing about SOM is there will be scenes from Kerrick's point of view so the reader will be able to keep track of him while Avry's dealing with Jael and Estrid as they prepare for war with Tohon.
Are there any new Authors that have grasped your interest and why?
I love Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series (Soulless is the first one) – the main character is strong, no nonsense and pragmatic and the books are funny. I also enjoyed Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series (The Iron King is the first) – another strong female character and a great story. The one character, Prince Ash (his royal iciness) was based on Valek from my Study books –so of course I love him J
When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
That’s a hard question to answer. I don’t think there is one question I would always answer with a lie. It would depend on who’s asking and about what. Like if someone is asking about their new hair style, if I hate it, I won’t hurt their feelings, but if I like it, I’ll tell the truth. So I guess I don’t have one J
If you could have written one book in history, what book would that be?
None. I wouldn’t want to take credit for something I didn’t write. I’m proud of my stories and attaching my name to something that’s not mine holds no appeal to me.
Favorite places to travel?
I love to travel and I’ll pretty much go anywhere if given the opportunity. I really loved London and must go back and explore more of the city and the rest of the UK. Australia and New Zealand were fantastic. The people are friendly and generous so I must return there as well. And Tuscany is another place I need to return to –beautiful countryside and fabulous wine.
If you could be any mythology creature, what would you be?
A dragon. Big, bad, can breathe fire, and fly – no one is going to mess with me!
Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
I prefer to write in my office at home. I write at night between 10 pm and 3 or 4 am, depending on how well the writing is going. One time I wrote until 6 am because the words were just pouring out and I didn’t want to stop.
Where can readers stalk you?
I have a website: http://www.MariaVSnyder.com, and a blog: http://officialmariavsnyder.blogspot.com. Readers can also find me on Facebook:http://www.facebook.com/#!/mvsfans and Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/445303.Maria_V_Snyder I don’t tweet.
Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan absorbs their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honored for her skills, she is hunted. Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Fifteen Realms, leaving the survivors in a state of chaos.
Stressed and tired from hiding, Avry is abducted by a band of rogues who, shockingly, value her gift above the golden bounty offered for her capture. Their leader, an enigmatic captor-protector with powers of his own, is unequivocal in his demands: Avry must heal a plague-stricken prince—leader of a campaign against her people. As they traverse the daunting Nine Mountains, beset by mercenaries and magical dangers, Avry must decide who is worth healing and what is worth dying for. Because the price of peace may well be her life….
Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder is a very captivating story about a Healer named Avry. She is one of the last Healers in the world. When a plague breaks out and wipes out two thirds of the population, she is blamed for starting and spreading it. On the run, Avry manages to stay true to herself and still very kindhearted towards people, specifically children. That soft spot she has in her heart leads her to healing a child. The parents report her to officials and escape was not an option for her this time. She is imprisoned and although she possesses magical powers, she is just fragile as the next person.
The story is amazingly great and filled with lots of action. Maria’s writing style is comforting and easy to the eyes and mind. Every word just effortlessly flows together into a magnificent tale of a strong heroine who heals people. The details of Avry’s healing powers are unique and very refreshing. There are plenty of twists and turns in the story. When the reader is expected to know what’s next, Maria grabs the steering wheel and veers the reader off to something absolutely beyond expectations.
Touch of Power is top-quality in terms of character development, writing style, plot and world-building. Characters are captivating with their own lively personalities. The villains are even interesting and meaningful. The ending delivered an emotional, yet gripping and satisfying finish. It left open threads as a lead for the next installment and I am certain that the continuation of this story will be just as wonderful as the first one.
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