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Maria V. Snyder
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Maria V. Snyder   Maria V. Snyder is the New York Times bestselling author of Poison Study, Magic Study, Fire Study, Storm Glass, Sea Glass, and Inside Out. Her books have made it onto the Book Sense Pick list and the Locus recommending reading list. They've also been RITA and ALEX award finalists, and theyíve won the Compton Crook Award, the Salt Lake County Readerís Choice Award and the Editorís Pick Award from

Buy Maria V. Snyder's Books at the following locations: (downloadable audio books) (independent bookstores)
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This episode originally aired on 01/28/2010 with the following authors:
Note: The following interview has been transcribed from The Author Hour radio show. Please excuse any typos, spelling and gramatical errors.

Interview with Maria V. Snyder

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Matthew Peterson: Welcome back. Youíre listening to The Author Hour: Your Guide to Fantastic Fiction, which can be found at Iím your host Matthew Peterson, author of Paraworld Zero.

My next guest is Maria V. Snyder, New York Times bestselling author of Poison Study, Magic Study, and Fire Study and also of Storm Glass and Sea Glass. Her books have made it onto the Book Sense Pick list, Locus recommending reading list, they were RITA and ALEX award finalists, and theyíve won the Compton Crook Award, the Salt Lake County Readerís Choice Award and the Editorís Pick Award from Thanks for being on the show today, Maria.

Maria V. Snyder: Oh, well thanks for having me.

Matthew Peterson: Now I met you many moons ago at the 2004 World Fantasy Convention.

Maria V. Snyder: Thatís right. Yep.

Matthew Peterson: That was the first convention Iíd ever been to, and whatís interesting is that I think you were one of the very first authors I had ever met. We were both infants in the publishing world. I was just starting and you had just finished your first book and gotten a publisher.

Maria V. Snyder: Right, yeah. I had a contract and I had a date, but I didnít have an actual book out yet. So yeah, that was the year before where I was trying to feel my way in the new world, type a deal, like you.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah, so itís kind of fun, though, to see, Ďcause you were really one of the first, I think you were the very first author I actually got like a card from, you know. [laughs] I was like thatís really cool.

Maria V. Snyder: Oh, wow. Wow! Iím honored now.

Matthew Peterson: So Iíve looked at your career, you know, throughout the few years now and itís exciting to see how youíve progressed: New York Times bestselling author now and several books out.

Maria V. Snyder: Yeah, it was really exciting. I mean, when you first start out, you have no idea if anybodyís going to buy your book or read your book or even like your books. So itís really uncertain. And to get a following going and then having it increase each book is really what authors really want.

Matthew Peterson: So when you were at that convention, had you been visiting lots of different conventions before that?

Maria V. Snyder: Well, I think it was one of my first World Fantasy Conventions. I had gone to a few WorldCons, the World Science Fiction Conventions. Theyíre huge, like have thousands of people show up and thousands of authors and all. And I definitely like World Fantasy better because it is a smaller, more relaxed atmosphere.

[Note: one of the main differences between the World Fantasy Convention and the WorldCon is that the World Fantasy Convention is more of a business convention filled almost entirely with authors, publishers, booksellers, agents, etc. whereas the WorldCon is a mix between fans and people in the publishing world.]

Matthew Peterson: Yeah, I went to that one just almost as a fluke. ďHey, you know the World Fantasy Convention is just right around the corner in my own home town. Maybe Iíll hop over there.Ē And I hopped over and I didnít know anybody. I mean, I didnít even know what any authors looked like other than maybe Stephen King. You know, Ďcause he was on a commercial once.

Maria V. Snyder: Yeah.

Matthew Peterson: I had a funny thing happen. I was there, you know, we were waiting to go into the line for the banquet. And there was a woman standing there, and I didnít know who she was and she was just all alone and I start talking to her. And I said, ďDo you go to conventions very often?Ē

ďYeah, yeah, Iíve been to a few.Ē

You know, weíre talking and Iím asking these questions: ďSo do you write?Ē

ďYeah, yeah, I do. I write a little bit.Ē

And Iím like, ďOkay.Ē So we go into the banquet and sheís Gwyneth Jones; sheís the guest of honor for the convention. [laughs]

Maria V. Snyder: Oh! [laughs]

Matthew Peterson: I felt dumb, you know. I was like, thatís how much I knew nobody. [laughs]

Maria V. Snyder: Yeah, but you know, she was probably more relaxed with you. If you were standing there going, ďOh my! I canít believe Iím talking to you!Ē She probably would have been like, ďOkay, fine...Ē

Matthew Peterson: Yep.

Maria V. Snyder: You werenít really hounding her for anything, and she was just having a conversation. Thatís great, though.

Matthew Peterson: Yep. So thatís how new I was in the industry. So thatís why I like looking at your books. Letís talk about your first book, Poison Study. I didnít know anything about it at that time, Ďcause it hadnít come out yet. But I have read them. I mean Iíve listened to them on Your main characterís name is Yelena. Tell us a little bit about Yelena and what she has to go through during the series.

Maria V. Snyder: Well she starts out in a pretty rough place. I mean, sheís in a dungeon waiting to be executed because she was convicted of murdering a generalís son. Now the world itself is a military dictatorship, well, the world of Ixia where sheís at. So the generals are sort of like the lords and ladies of the land. And that was a pretty bad crime that she did. So sheís in that position, and she gets offered a choice. Does she want to become the commanderís new food taster or does she want to be executed? The commander is kind of paranoid someoneís going to try and poison him, so he wants to have somebody sort of taste his food, and if she died in the line of duty, well, oh well, doesnít matter, she was going to die anyway.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

Maria V. Snyder: So the commander ended up being not quite your stereo-typical military dictator in this world. So thatís her first introduction, you know, to the commander and to Valek, whoís the security chief in charge of all the security. Sheís determined, sheís got this chance of living and sheís going to try and make the most of it. So sheís stubborn and you know, very proactive and she tries to get out of her situation.

Matthew Peterson: And heís a sneaky little devil. I mean, he gives her . . . [laughs]

Maria V. Snyder: Valek, heís a great character. I have a lot of people who email me how much they like Valek. Heís your typical assassin-type person, but he has layers to him that you donít really realize in the beginning.

Matthew Peterson: And the book continues. The first oneís Poison Study and then the next oneís Magic Study.

Maria V. Snyder: Magic Study, yes. As she goes along, she has these magical powers that she canít control. They kind of spring up in Poison Study, so in Magic Study sheís trying to learn how to control them and use them. And of course, then sheís in the world of Sitia, which is the southern lands, and thatís more of a . . . not quite a democracy, but they have clans that have council members and so itís a different type of world. And sheís not used to that, which is interesting. Sheís used to the military way of dealing with things. So in Magic Study thereís a rouge magician whoís out there and seems like heís got his sights set on Yelena, so she kind of gets involved in that as well as trying to study for her . . . for the magic.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

Maria V. Snyder: So I keep things hopping.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah, you definitely do, and young adults can read these, I think--young teens. But what is the main audience for these books that you would assume?

Maria V. Snyder: Well, the main audience was adults when I first started writing them. And then when I had Poison Study as nothing but a manuscript, my niece, Amy, wanted to read it. And she was 14 at the time, but she was like a voracious reader, so I thought, ďEh, sheís on the edge. I can give it to her.Ē Well, she read it in a day and loved it, so then that was the first little inkling that, ďWell, maybe this would be alright for young adults.Ē And then after we published Poison Study I got all these emails from teenagers . . .

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

Maria V. Snyder: . . . just loving the series. So my publisher went back and put a young adult cover on the books. So they got a new cover again, and they were put in the young adult section, and theyíve been selling pretty well in that section.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. Well, thatís great. You know, I know that you gave me a little bit of advice a couple years ago. [laughs]

Maria V. Snyder: Uh, huh.

Matthew Peterson: You mentioned that I could improve my writing if I added some more senses like smell and taste and . . .

Maria V. Snyder: Oh, yes.

Matthew Peterson: And of course, I was thinking to myself, ďWell this is coming from someone who just wrote a book all about a woman who is going to die if she doesnít use her senses of smell and taste.Ē But I really took your advice to heart on my second book.

Maria V. Snyder: Oh, well, thatís great. Yeah, because writers, especially newer writers, we tend to rely on the visual.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

Maria V. Snyder: You know, what the character sees. But youíre missing out on a whole bunch of other stuff with like smelling and touch and taste and sounds and so on. I try and include more than the visual in my descriptions. And actually, when I look at the Study books, I think Poison Study was on tastes, Magic Study had a whole thing with smells, and then Fire Study was all on touch.

Matthew Peterson: Yep. And Iím dulled on all those. I have bad hearing. I canít smell anything. I canít taste anything. And my wifeís just the opposite. Sheís got super powers. [laughs]

Maria V. Snyder: Oh. [laughs]

Matthew Peterson: So itís sometimes hard to remember that even though because you might not have the best taste or smell or whatever, other people do. And you gotta put that in your writing.

Maria V. Snyder: Yeah.

Matthew Peterson: Iím grateful that you gave me that little bit of advice.

Maria V. Snyder: Oh, well, yeah.

Matthew Peterson: I have implemented it in my second book. [laughs]

Maria V. Snyder: Oh, thatís wonderful. Yeah, I have a ďWriting AdviceĒ section on my website. Lots of articles on there. And I get a lot of emails from writers who thank me for them, Ďcause they really appreciate them. So Iím glad. I like to help.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. I actually went to those a few months ago. I thought that was very helpful to see those helps. -- is that it?

Maria V. Snyder: Yep! Yep!

Matthew Peterson: Okay. Letís go to Fire Study. So I understand that you did a lot of research for Fire Study. Didnít you take a class on glass work?

Maria V. Snyder: I did. I did. I took a glass blowing class, which we learned how to, you know, gather the molten glass--itís in this huge cauldron, in a kiln--and then pull it out and, you know, shape it and try and blow a bubble in it to make like a vase or something like that. It was fun.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

Maria V. Snyder: It was a lot of fun.

Matthew Peterson: How did you use that for the last book, the Fire Study?

Maria V. Snyder: Well Fire Study has a character, her nameís Opal. Her and her family are glass blowers, makers; they make glass as their business. And she becomes pretty important in Fire Study as helping Yelena out with the main evil guy. Heís called the Fire Warper. Heís a magician thatís like trapped in the fire. And so Opal becomes a pretty big player towards the end of that book. I donít want to say, I donít want to spoil it for anyone. But her whole glass making abilities really sparked an idea for me with doing more with her and her glass magic, Ďcause it ends up she has some magic abilities. So then with her I did a spinoff series, which is the Glass books: the Storm Glass and Sea Glass, using her as the main character. And all that glass blowing experience--I took about 3 or 4 classes--really helped me in getting into Opalís character.

Matthew Peterson: Well, thatís great.

Tell us a little bit about Inside Out.

Maria V. Snyder: Well Inside Out, I like to use this line on people. You know the book, City of Ember?

Matthew Peterson: Uh, huh.

Maria V. Snyder: It was recently a movie. Itís like the City of Ember meets Loganís Run.

Matthew Peterson: Oh, okay.

Maria V. Snyder: Basically the world is... they are inside. They live in this place called Inside and itís pretty much an enclosed society. And they have forgotten whatís on the outside. My main character, Trella, sheís pretty much a loner and she doesnít want to be bothered, but she canít let this one challenge go by. A prophet in their world has some evidence that thereís a gateway to Outside and that he needs her help. She knows all the pipes in Inside. Sheís kind of small and sheís one of the cleaners, because they have to keep the world clean. ĎCause they rely on their machinery to keep them alive, they keep it clean, so sheís one of the pipe cleaners.

Matthew Peterson: Mm hmm.

Maria V. Snyder: So she has to go and retrieve these discs that are supposed to have the coordinates for the gateway. And it just sets off this whole, not quite a revolution, but like a whole series of events, Ďcause you know, the main people who run the world donít want to find this gateway.

Matthew Peterson: Are there going to be more in this or is this a standalone?

Maria V. Snyder: Yeah. Thereís a second book called Outside In. [laughs]

Matthew Peterson: [laughs] I was waiting for you to say something like that!

Maria V. Snyder: Yeah, yeah. I know. [laughs] I do that with my titles. You know, like the Study books they all have Study in them, and Glass has the Glass.

Matthew Peterson: Glass, yeah.

Maria V. Snyder: Yeah. So Inside Out and Outside In. That one is scheduled for, I think 2011.

Matthew Peterson: Great! Well, thank you so much, Maria. Iíve been speaking with Maria V. Snyder, New York Times bestselling author of the Study and Glass series. Check out Inside Out, thatís coming out soon. Thank you so much for being on the show today, Maria.

Maria V. Snyder: Oh, well thank you for having me. This is a lot of fun!

Matthew Peterson: Okay, donít forget to visit to listen to Mariaís bonus questions. After the break, Iíve got Obert Skye. Donít go away.

  Read or Listen to the extra questions that didn't make it onto the live show.  

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