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Maria V Snyder Book and Novel

Maria V Snyder - Author


Maria V. Snyder has been writing fiction and nonfiction since 1995. She has published numerous freelance articles in magazines and newspapers.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Maria earned a bachelor of science degree in meteorology at Penn State University. She discovered, much to her chagrin, that forecasting the weather wasn't one of her skills.

Her research on food-tasting methods with an expert chocolate taster, her husband, turned out to be a delicious bonus while writing Poison Study.

Maria has a brown belt in Isshinryu karate, and enjoys playing volleyball and the cello. She lives with her husband, son, daughter and yellow Lab in Pennsylvania.

Below is a Q & A with this author.

How would you describe your Study Series?
The series begins with Poison Study and is basically about Yelena. She starts out at rock bottom, awaiting execution in the Commander's dungeon. The Commander is the military dictator of Ixia, which has been divided into eight military districts. Each district is ruled by a General and everyone who lives in Ixia wears a uniform.Only after the book was written, did I realize the world of Ixia is a combination of my 12 years attending Catholic School, where we all wore uniforms, and the business practices of the company my husband works for.

Instead of being executed, Yelena is offered a choice and given a glimmer of hope for the first time in two years. She chooses to live and is determined to find a way to escape her situation. Poison Study concentrated on Yelena’s inner conflicts and her self-confidence. She has walled herself off from others and has to learn how to trust and to love again.

In Magic Study, Yelena travels to the southern lands of Sitia. Raised with the strict military rule of Ixia, Yelena finds the democratic and relaxed way of life in Sitia strange. There are eleven clans within Sitia's borders and each has a vote. Yelena's also dealing with a family she doesn't remember and trying to justify her feelings of loyalty to the Commander. The main reason she's there is to focus on discovering the extent and type of her magical powers. But she is frequently frustrated with the committee mindset and having to discuss every decision to death before any action is taken. Her tendency to rush head long into a situation doesn't endear her to the Sitian Council Members. She has to mature and settle down a bit and trust that her loyalty for Ixia isn't a betrayal of Sitia.

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. Loyalty is again an issue and she spends half the book back in Ixia.

I really liked what Jo-Ann Greene, a local reviewer said about my series: "...a great coming-of-age narrative. Don't young people wonder who and what has made them what they are? (That's Book1, Poison Study). Don't they wish for a special talent that will take them from being nearly powerless to being powerful? (That's Book 2, Magic Study). Don't they struggle to define their true selves, despite other's expectations? And don't their elders, even those designated as teachers and mentors, sometimes betray them out of ignorance or envy? And, facing failure, don't they entertain the gravest doubts about themselves? (That's, Fire Study)."

What gave you the inspiration for the series?
I was reading Orson Scott Card’s book, How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy. In chapter 3, Card tells the writer to consider some questions before choosing the main character. He wrote, “Too often - particularly in medieval fantasy - writers think their story must be about rulers. Kings and queens, dukes and duchesses - they can be extravagantly powerful, yes, but too often, they aren’t free at all. If you understand the workings of power in human societies, you’ll know that the greatest freedom to act in unpredictable ways is usually found away from the centers of power.”

This comment led me to think about a person who was close enough to the centre of power to witness important events, yet not be the Prince or Princess. I thought about a food taster because my husband tastes chocolate as part of his job with a major candy company. A scene then jumped into my mind. I saw a woman tasting food that was most likely poisoned through the eyes of the King. He watched her with heartbreaking horror because he had fallen in love with her. That led me to wonder about this woman. Who was she? Why was she there? Why would a King fall in love with her? And Poison Study was born. Then the Commander came along and assassinated the monarchy – he was tired of reading all those fantasy novels with monarchs.

I didn’t plan for Poison Study to expand into two more books. When I wrote the first draft, I figured it would be a stand-alone. But after I finished, I thought I could continue her adventures. After Magic Study I knew I had one more story in me to show Yelena’s character arc.

It’s interesting how Yelena’s story ended up being told through three books. I don’t like trilogies as that middle book is all middle—nothing is resolved. I tried very hard to make each of the Study books a stand-alone story with a beginning, middle, and end.

Who do you base your characters on?
I don’t choose my character’s personality ahead of time; they develop as I write about them, just like a Polaroid picture. I start with a general stereotype and then the character comes alive as they move through the story. For example, Valek. He started as an assassin stereotype—athletic, confidant, skilled in the martial arts. But as he interacted with the other characters (mainly Yelena), he diverged from the stereotype. He’s a pack rat with an insatiable curiosity. He’s also a sculptor and has a very dry, sarcastic sense of humour.

There is a little of me in all the characters. I have to “become” them in order to know what their thinking, what their motives are, why are they who they are. It’s very similar to acting (which I dabbled in High School). So when I write about a character, it is filtered through me.

Where do you get your ideas from?
From everywhere! I get ideas from newspaper and magazine articles, from something I see on television, from something that comes up in conversation, from dreams, from my research, or from something my children say or do. I tend not to lack for ideas, just time!

What are you writing next?
I’m working on the third book of the Glass Series. The Glass Series is about Opal Cowan. She’s Tula’s younger sister, and she played a significant role in Fire Study.

With her abilities with glass, she really fascinated me while I wrote Fire Study, so I wanted to see how she would do on her own. Storm Glass is mostly about Opal’s efforts to help the Stormdance Clan. The time is five years after the events in Fire Study, and Yelena, Leif, Irys, and many other characters from the Study Series are part of the story. Storm Glass is coming out in the UK in July.

If you like Maria V Snyder you might also like to read books by Robin McKinley.

Featured Books, with extracts, by Maria V Snyder

Storm Glass by Maria V Snyder
Storm Glass
Maria V Snyder
July 2009 Book of the Month. First of a new trilogy following Opal’s adventures as she weaves magic into glass. With her unique blend of skills – magician and glass...
Format: Paperback - Released: 19/12/2011
Sea Glass by Maria V Snyder
Sea Glass
Maria V Snyder
Beautiful, sweeping fantasy, the second book in the second series to feature Opal Cowan whose magic allows her to create glass that can carry thoughts, trap storms, even steal another’s powers. Following ‘Storm Glass’ Opal’s journey of learning continues...
Format: Paperback - Released: 15/01/2010
Fire Study by Maria V Snyder
Fire Study
Maria V Snyder
In the first two books of this compelling fantasy series our heroine Yelena was completing her apprenticeship through many an adventure while learning her magic. Now in Fire Study she is able to capture and release souls and her lessons...
Format: Paperback - Released: 16/01/2009
Magic Study by Maria V Snyder
Magic Study
Maria V Snyder
The follow up to Poison Study sees the heroine, Yelena, discovering and developing her magical side. There are great new characters to keep the plot moving and the story is kept fresh with lots more information about Yelena’s background....
Format: Paperback - Released: 16/05/2008
Poison Study by Maria V Snyder
Poison Study
Maria V Snyder
September 2007 Debut of the Month. An intriguing fantasy novel, fast paced and action packed, you feel the heroine, Yelena, barely has time to catch her breath before she is running for her...
Format: Paperback - Released: 21/09/2007
Poison Study by Maria V Snyder
Poison Study
Maria V Snyder
September 2007 Debut of the Month. An intriguing fantasy novel, fast paced and action packed, you feel the heroine, Yelena, barely has time to catch her breath before she...
Format: Paperback - Released: 21/09/2007

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