Interview with Maria V. Snyder
Here is an interview with Maria V. Snyder the author of Fire Study!
What was your inspiration for writing Fire Study?
I wanted to explore the uses and abuses of power in this book. Poison Study, which is the first in the Study series, concentrated on Yelena’s inner conflicts and her self-confidence, and only touched briefly on magic. Magic Study focused on discovering the extent and type of powers Yelena possesses. In the third book, I wanted to show the extent some magicians will go to gain power over others. Using magic to solve problems can be addicting, and, in Fire Study Yelena realizes how much she depends on her magical abilities. She must learn how to balance the use of her power with more mundane methods and to discover that completely turning your back on magic isn’t the right answer.
Where do you find your inspiration?
It can be from anywhere. I get ideas from newspaper and magazine articles, from something I see on television, from something that comes up in conversation, from dreams, or from something my children say or do. I tend not to lack for ideas just time!
Who are your favorite authors and books now and when you were growing up?
Currently my favorite authors all have humor in their books. Since my life is so stress-filled and complicated, I’ve been enjoying light and fluffy reading with Mary Janice Davidson’s vampire series and her new mermaid series, Connie Willis is another favorite of mine, and I’ve recently discover the mystery/suspense thrillers of Harlan Coben. Growing up, I started with mysteries because that is what my mother enjoyed. Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys were my favorites before I graduated to Agatha Cristie, Dick Francis, Robert B. Parker, Barbara Vine, and Ed McBain.
What is it about fantasy/science fiction that attracts you?
As a writer, the attraction is in exploring new settings and characters and not having to worry too much about what is physically possible or not. I make my own rules about my world and, as long as I stick to them, can explore various problems generated by the unique setting and situation. As a reader, I enjoy traveling beyond my everyday world to a new place full of wonder and surprises.
Why did you decide to make Yelena a Soulfinder?
The concept of everyone having a soul fascinates me. I never consciously decided to make her a Soulfinder, it just happened toward the end of Magic Study. My subconscious must have been working on it because even in Poison Study, when Yelena chooses to become the Commander’s food taster there is a moment where she is peering at her reflection wondering if she still has a soul. She felt so empty and used that she was sure her soul had gone, leaving behind a thin shell.
Being a Soulfinder also added conflict to the story. The Sitian people feared the power. Someone who has the ability to manipulate a person’s soul is serious business, especially since the last person with the power abused it by creating his own soulless army. So here’s Yelena – already an oddity by being raised in the northern lands of Ixia, conflicted over her loyalties between Ixia and Sitia and now has this ability which could condemn her before she even explores what she can do with it.
What (besides writing) do you do for fun?
I love to travel with my family. Exploring new places and meeting new people and experiencing other cultures are wonderful for the writer’s soul J I also enjoy playing volleyball, reading and I dabble with photography.
What are you writing now?
I’m writing the fourth book based in the Study world titled, Storm Glass. Set five years after Fire Study, Storm Glass has a new protagonist and she’s the reason for the new series title. Storm Glass will be out December 2008. Here is the cover copy of the book:
“As a glassmaker and a magician-in-training, Opal Cowen understands trial by fire. Now it’s time to test her mettle. Someone has sabotaged the Stormdancer clan’s glass orbs, killing their most powerful magicians. The Stormdancers—particularly the mysterious and mercurial Kade—require Opal’s unique talents to prevent it happening again. But when the mission goes awry, Opal must tap into a new kind of magic as stunningly potent as it is frightening. And the further she delves into the intrigue behind the glass and magic, the more distorted things appear. With lives hanging in the balance—including her own—Opal must control powers she never knew she possessed…powers that might lead to disaster beyond anything she’s ever known.”
What does a typical writing day look like for you? How long do you write, that sort of thing?
I sit down at my computer after my children leave for school. After answering email and procrastinating for an hour, I start writing and only stop briefly for lunch and continue until my son comes home around 3:30 p.m. During the school year, I’m very productive, but once summer comes along I can only do revisions.
Where do you write??
I write in my home office. My husband enjoys woodworking and he built me a great writing room with built in bookcases and a custom made desk. I keep a number of toys nearby to fidget with as I’m working out a problem in my head, and I keep weapons nearby to make sure when I write an action scene, I’m not describing something impossible.
What is easiest/hardest for you as a writer?
Dialogue is the easiest and the most fun to write. I struggle with details. I tend to go light on details, preferring to focus on action and dialogue. Also describing emotions without using clichés is very difficult for me, finding something fresh is hard, but when I do—it’s like hitting the lottery.
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