The Black Diamond Writers Network is excited to have New York Times-bestselling author Maria V. Snyder as our keynote speaker at the 2nd Annual Write It Right Conference. Maria is the author of the bestselling Study (Poison Study, Magic Study, and Fire Study) and Glass (Storm Glass, Sea Glass, and Spy Glass) trilogies, as well as Inside Out, a YA sci-fi/fantasy novel. Its sequel, Outside In, is scheduled for release on March 1, 2011. Maria has also contributed to anthologies like The Eternal Kiss: 13 Vampire Tales of Blood and Desire, The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance, and The Stories In Between. Here, Maria takes some time out of her busy schedule to talk to our Jodi Webb about writing, research, and what to expect at Write It Right.
BDWN: I just finished the first book in your Study series, Poison Study. You mentioned that you learned about food tasting and the defensive arts as research for this books. For other books you've had hands on experience with horseback riding and glass blowing. I'd like to know which came first, the chicken or the egg? Did you come up with a plot for a book that happened to involve a hobby or skill and then find that you had to learn more about it to write effectively or did you say to yourself, "Glass blowing seems so interesting, I'd like to learn more about it." and then find yourself creating a book based on that newfound interest?
MARIA: I usually come up with an idea/plot for a story first. Then, as I’m writing the book, I’ll encounter something I don’t know, like what indigo plants look like, and I’ll make a list of things I need to research. Occasionally, I’ll know before the book is written. For example, with the Glass books, I knew the main character was going to be a glass artist/magician so I enrolled in a couple glass classes to learn how to work with molten glass before I started those books.
BDWN: Any other hobbies or skills you'd like to weave into a book?
MARIA: I’d like to use photography sometime in the future just so I can take classes and call it research J
BDWN: I was uncertain how to label your books. After reading the Study series I decided they were YA even though I loved them and I'm long past the YA phase of my life! But then I visited your website and saw they were published as both YA and adult...with different book covers. Is this a common practice in the publishing world?
MARIA: I don’t think re-labeling books is all that common in the publishing world. There are a few older titles that have been re-printed with new covers and placed in the YA section of the bookstore recently, mostly because, back then, there wasn’t a YA section in the bookstore to place them! My Study books were written for adults, but I was getting so many emails from YA readers saying how much they enjoyed them that my publisher decided to market the books to YAs as well as adults.
BDWN: Why we're talking about labels, you've written YA fantasy both in a historical world and a modernistic world as well as contributing to some short story anthologies about the paranormal. Any new types of writing you'd like to try? Or are you strictly a fantasy gal?
MARIA: I’m always interested in a challenge and that’s why I contribute to various short story anthologies. I would love to write a mystery/suspense/thriller someday, and I have a mainstream book for middle grade readers I’ve been trying to sell. So, no, I’m not strictly fantasy J
BDWN: You're going to travel your road to publication with attendees of the Write It Right conference. Can you share one of your biggest surprises (good or bad) while working at getting your books published?
MARIA: This might sound stupid, but the biggest surprise was that many of the people who worked at my publisher were reading my book. I had met a bunch of sales staff and PR/Marketing workers about four months before Poison Study was published, and they all gushed about the book. My editor was amused. She said, “What did you think we’d do with it?” I had thought she and maybe the copy editor would actually read the entire book, and everyone else would just read the cover copy. This led to another surprise, that the publishing professionals still get excited about books. I had thought they might be jaded and like, “Yawn, just another book,” but they’re enthusiastic.
BDWN: In addition to a talk on the Road to Publication you have a second workshop. Can you tell us a little about what you'll be sharing with us?
MARIA: My other workshop is titled, Maria’s Nitpicks. I’m going to focus on a bunch of writing…not quite mistakes, but weak, sloppy writing that drives me crazy J I see these in published books all the time. Things like passive voice, vague nouns, floating eye balls, info dumps, and unrealistic fight scenes.
BDWN: And you would know about unrealistic fight scenes since, as part of your research you choreographed the fight scenes in your books! Tell us what you enjoy about participating in appearances such as the Write It Right conference.
MARIA: I do enjoy teaching aspiring writers. It’s fun and I get to hang out with other writers – what’s not to like? Also I had a lot of help when I was learning, and teaching others is one way to thank those who helped me. Mentoring students is extremely rewarding and I love it when they improve or “get” it -- I’m like a proud Mama Bear J One thing I always tell everyone – writing is not something you can master. Writers are always learning, and interacting with students and readers has been both delightful and educational J
BDWN: Any big news or secrets about your next project you'd like to share with us?
MARIA: I’m working on book #9 (still amazed by that!). It’s another fantasy novel and it’s about a healer set in a world that is recovering from a deadly plague. Her world has blamed the plague on the healers and has hunted them down. She is finally caught only to be rescued by a group who wants her to heal their Prince. The group's leader, Kerrick, knows the healers aren't to blame for the plague and that she could do some good for a change instead of hiding. Unfortunately, she believes this Prince is the one who started the plague as an attempt at biological warfare so she isn't risking her life for some pampered Prince. As they travel to the Prince's hidden location, they're pursued by others who have realized having a healer around might just be a good thing for them, but not necessarily for her. This book is tentatively set for a January 2012 release in the United States.
BDWN: But don't worry readers, Maria won't be doing experiements in biological weapons as part of her research! No need to buy your own personal gas mask.