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.
Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
I started writing after I had graduated from Pennsylvania State University. To be honest, I was bored at work and looking for something to do so I started jotting down story ideas and notes (I was always a daydreamer when bored in school). I really didn’t take the writing thing seriously until after my children were born. I enjoyed writing and found I had some skill at it, so I set a goal to get a story published before my youngest was in first grade to avoid having to go back to work. I received my contract from my publisher when she was in kindergarten!
Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
There are many reasons. First for pure entertainment – it’s a way to escape the stress of our day and read about someone else’s problems. Second, it’s a way for us to experience things we’d never do and go places we might not ever go. I’d never swim with a shark (well, not on purpose), but reading about the experience and imagining I’m in the water is close enough. Third, it’s a way to learn. We can learn from the character’s mistakes and we can learn about subjects all the while being entertained. I had a reader tell me that she learned so much about glass blowing from my Glass Series books, that when she visited the famous glass artists on the island of Murano, Italy, she already knew everything. I love hearing that!
Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of your genre?
No fair! This is always a hard question. I’d have to say Orson Scott Card’s Enders Game. I love the setting and social atmosphere of this science fiction. The main character is wonderful and there was a nice twist to the ending (I love being surprised). Outside my genre, I really loved The Perfect Storm, by Sebastian Junger. He’s a wonderful writer and he made a story from actual events and it had a storm in it. I’m still a weather geek at heart. ;>
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
My mentor while I was attending Seton Hill University’s Masters program in writing helped me with adding details and description to my writing. Now when I receive an email from a reader, praising my descriptions, I silently thank him.
In your new novel; Scent of Magic, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it?
The events in Scent of Magic pick up right where Touch of Power left off. Healer Avry is determined to repair her relationship with her sister and she goes undercover in the High Priestess’s holy army to not only get closer to her sister, but to find out how prepared the Priestess is for war against their common enemy, Tohon. Meanwhile Kerrick goes north to fight with the tribesman from the wild lands. This book has chapters from both Avry’s and Kerrick’s point of view—something new for me. The first chapter is available online at: http://www.mariavsnyder.com/books/som.php but don’t read it if you haven’t read Touch of Power.
For those who are unfamiliar with Avry, how would you introduce her?
Strong, smart, snarky, and very nurturing due to her healing abilities.
What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
My next book will be out in October 2013 and is titled, Storm Watcher. It’s a middle-grade novel for kids ages 8 to 14. Then the third and final Healer series book, Taste of Death will be released at the end of December 2013. And I’ll be soon working on a new Study series book with Yelena and Valek (no title yet). That is scheduled for a late 2014 release (tentative and subject to change!).
If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I’d introduce Valek, my assassin from my Study books to Prince Ash from Julie Kagawa’s The Iron Fey series and step back. Julie and I are friends and we have a little rivalry going over who would win in a fight between these two. It would be great to see that I’m right -- Valek would kick his icy butt in no time.
When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
How old are you? :)
What's the most memorable summer job you've ever had?
Working in a kennel! In fact, much of my experience with caring for the dogs is part of my upcoming novel, Storm Watcher – it has dogs and storms in it – two of my favorite things. One summer, I worked for a very rich lady who owned over fifty show dogs and a huge farm with a kennel. My job was to feed the dogs, wash them, and exercise them. I also had to help cook up this homemade dog food that was delicious smelling (and nauseating as well). I loved working with the dogs – they were always so happy to see me.
Who was your first boyfriend?
My first real boyfriend was Rick. I met him while on a camping trip with my friends. He introduced me to skiing and dirt bikes. Fun times.
Tell me about your first kiss
It was the typical awkward, painfully self-conscious, near-miss as I suspect all young teens experience.
What would be harder for you, to tell someone you love them or that you do not love them back?
I think it would be harder to hurt someone’s feelings. It’s never easy to break a heart.
When was the last time you cried?
Probably at the end of some sappy movie. I tend to find them when I’m up late at night by myself and having a glass of wine.
What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager?
The 90s! The reason: technology and wealth of information. Plus everyone is more accepting of others and very anti-bully. I’d rather chose now to be a teen, but you said last century.
What is your greatest adventure?
My greatest adventure has been raising my two children. They’re a constant source of inspiration and love and fun, but have also presented a number of challenges as well.
Where can readers stalk you?
I’m online at a number of places:
My website: http://www.mariavsnyder.com
My blog: http://officialmariavsnyder.blogspot.com
My Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/mvsfans
Goodreads page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/445303.Maria_V_Snyder
And my Amazon.com page: https://www.amazon.com/author/mariavsnyder
I’m not on Twitter :)
Though she should be in hiding, Avry will do whatever she can to support Tohon’s opponents. Including infiltrating a holy army, evading magic sniffers, teaching forest skills to soldiers and figuring out how to stop Tohon’s most horrible creations yet; an army of the walking dead—human and animal alike and nearly impossible to defeat.
War is coming and Avry is alone. Unless she figures out how to do the impossible ... again.