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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Maria V. Snyder Interview and Study Series Giveaway

Happy New Year! *insert horn blowing and confetti throwing*
We’re extremely excited to kick off our first Featured Fiction of 2011 with the fabulous and one of our favorites, Maria V. Snyder, author of the Study and Glass series, INSIDE OUT and the highly anticipated follow up, OUTSIDE IN, set to release this March.  (Just finished an advanced copy of this one in a day and a half! If you haven’t read INSIDE OUT yet then it’s definitely a title you must add to your list. One you finish you’ll be counting down the days until March! We’re hoping to have Maria back for a visit to celebrate the release.)

For those who haven't read any of Maria's books yet POISON STUDY is a book you MUST read. One of the most dangerous and sexiest love interests ever, a mystery that will keep you guessing until the end, a main character who isn't afraid to kick a little (ok, A LOT of ) butt...all set in a fantasy world you can't help but wish was real! What more could you ask for? We love these books!
To learn more about Maria, her books, appearances, writing advice and more please visit her website http://www.mariavsyder.com/
The images shown with the descriptions of the books taken from Maria's site are the US covers BUT thanks to Maria we are very excited to offer one extremely lucky reader the chance to win all 3 books (yes, all 3!)  Study books with the Australian covers! *See details and cover images at the end of the post to enter*
POISON STUDY: CHOOSE: A QUICK DEATH OR SLOW POISON (STUDY BOOK 1)
About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered a reprieve. She'll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace, and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia. And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly's Dust, and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison. As Yelena tries to escape her dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and she develops magical powers she can't control. Her life’s at stake again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear!
MAGIC STUDY: YOU KNOW YOUR LIFE IS BAD WHEN YOU MISS YOUR DAYS AS A POISON TASTER (STUDY BOOK 2)
Yelena is on her way to be reunited with the family she'd been stolen from long ago. Although she has gained her freedom, she can't help feeling isolated in Sitia. Her Ixian background has changed her in many ways, and her newfound friends and relatives don't think it's for the better. Despite the turmoil, she's eager to start her magical training. But her plans take a radical turn when she becomes involved with a plot to reclaim Ixia's throne for a lost prince, and gets entangled in powerful rivalries with her fellow magicians. If that wasn't bad enough, it appears her brother would love to see her dead. Luckily, Yelena has some old friends to help her with her new enemies.

FIRE STUDY: SURROUNDED BY FIRE WITH NO WAY TO ESCAPE THE BURN (STUDY BOOK 3)
Yelena's new role as Soulfinder has made the Sitian Council uneasy. Worried that her new powers will corrupt her, the Council debates her fate. Yelena, though is trying to keep Sitia and Ixia from going to war. In the middle of political wrangling, Yelena receives a disturbing message: a plot is rising against her homeland, led by Ferde, the Soulstealer who murdered eleven girls and has escaped from prison with Cahil Ixia’s help. Cahil believes if he joins with the new Daviian Clan, he will have enough support to regain the Ixian throne. Testing the limit of her skills, Yelena becomes embroiled in the desperate fight to stop Ferde and the Daviian Clan from siphoning enough power to unleash a Fire Warper on the world. That would be worst than war between the northern and southern lands. Especially since, of all the powers Yelena possesses, she couldn't set fire to a candle wick if her life depended on it. And there is more at stake than just her life.
  Here's a little about Maria and her writing. Enjoy!
1) Can you tell us a little about your background as a writer? How long you’ve been writing? How you got started?

I started because of boredom! My first job after college was as a Meteorologist for an environmental consulting firm. The amount of work came in waves, and we were either extremely busy or bored. During the slow times, I started writing a short story. Ideas were always floating around in my mind, but that was when I began using them. I submitted my first short story for critique at a writing conference in Philadelphia back in 1991, and when the workshop leader gave me 7 out of 10, I thought that was pretty good for a first effort and decided to stick with writing for a while. After my son was born and I only had about one hour a day to myself, I had to decide what was important enough to spend that precious time on. Most days writing won.


2) What kind of projects are you currently working on?

Right now I’m working on a new fantasy novel 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.


3) We’ve heard many fans proclaim their love for Valek (myself included). Did you have any idea he’d get such a huge response from readers?


No – I was surprised by the response. At first, I was worried he would come across as to cold and distant. He also wasn’t supposed to be the main love interest. I had been thinking the Commander would fall in love with Yelena, but that didn’t work out at all! Valek started as a stereotypical assassin character, but he had hidden layers that he revealed to me as I wrote the story.


4) The actual research you’ve done for the Study and Glass series is amazing. Glass blowing, martial arts! Can you tell us what that was like?


It’s always lots of fun to do hands-on research for my books. It’s the best way to learn so I can translate the experience for the readers. For some things, I can use my imagination, or ask an expert, but it will lack the actual smells, motions, and thoughts. And the bonus is getting out of the house and interacting with other people – lol! Expect the time I went to a men’s minimum and maximum security prison – then interacting with the prisoners wasn’t so…fun. More scary, but certainly educational.


5) We have a lot of writers working toward publication around here. Are there any words of wisdom you’d like to pass on? Can you share details on how your own writing process works? (timeline? number of drafts? beta readers? outlining?)


My biggest piece of advice is always persistence. I’d been writing for ten years and submitting for eight before I sold anything. Learn the craft of writing as well as the business of writing and attend writer’s conferences and classes if you can. Consider that time an apprenticeship. Be wary of predators, if someone is asking you for money proceed with the utmost caution. Get feedback on your stories from fellow writers before submitting. Joining a critique group is very helpful. I also find that if I let a story sit on my desk for a few weeks I can pick out all the problems, typos and inconsistencies easier. And I agree whole heartily with Stephen King’s advice in his book, On Writing. He wrote, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” And don’t give up! Ever!


As for my process, I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer (a.k.a. Pantser). I’ll get an idea and have an ending in mind, and I would like to just sit down and write. However, my editor needs more than an idea and vague ending to approve a project, so I have to write a synopsis of the book. She also knows I won’t stick to it, but she needs it. Then I start. I try to write at least 1,000 words a day and I’ll write from page 1 to page 300. No jumping around and writing scenes out of order – I’m a linear writer. I may have an exciting scene near the end in mind, but I’ll dangle it like a carrot to get myself to write up to that point. Once the first draft is finished, I’ll do a major revision and then send it off to my editor, agent, and critique partner. They’ll give me feedback and I’ll revise again before we get into the nitpicky stuff like grammar issues, typos, etc…

6) As readers we love hearing what our favorite authors are reading. What are you reading right now? What are some of your favorite books?

I just finished The Iron King and The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa – they were wonderful and I’m looking forward to The Iron Queen in March! Here’s some of the books I’ve enjoyed in no particular order: The Hunger Games series, by Suzanne Collins, The Morganville Vampire series – first book is Glass Houses by Rachel Caine, Wicked Lovely, by Melissa Marr, Shiver, Maggie Steifvater, Urban Shaman by C.E. Murphy, Wicked Game and Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready, His Majesty's Dragon, by Naomi Novik, Rot & Ruin, by Jonathan Maberry, Soulless, by Gail Carringer, Boneshaker, by Cherie Priest, Libyrinth, by Pearl North, Coffeehouse Angel, by Suzanne Selfors, Thread of Fear, by Laura Griffin, Shadow’s Son, by Jon Sprunk, Girl's Guide to Witchcraft, by Mindy Klasky, Jaran, by Kate Elliott (science fiction but great adventure/romance - other really good SF novels with great characters are Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card and The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis - in fact, I recommend anything by Connie Wills - she has a wonderful sense of humor.)

7) Creating an original world full of magic must be a huge undertaking (one you’ve done an incredible job with!) How did you come up with “the rules” and history in the Study series?

As I said before, I’m a pantser. For my first book, I had an idea to make a food taster the main character, and I developed the world from there. At first, I had a King and the whole monarchy of princes, princesses, dukes, and duchesses, but that’s been done to death in fantasy novels. The Commander then sent Valek in to assassinate them and he established a military dictatorship.


Once Poison Study was written, I realized 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. In his company everyone wears a uniform, even upper management, and everyone sits in a large open-spaced room. There's no "good-old boy" network or special treatment to anyone. I really admired their way of treating their employees.

For the southern lands of Sitia, I wanted the government to be the opposite of Ixia, so I created eleven clans. Each clan sends a councilor to be part of a committee which governs the land.

8) OUTSIDE IN, the follow up to INSIDE OUT, releases in March. Can you tell us more on what fans can look forward to in this book? *Book bloggers—advance copies of OUTSIDE IN are now available on www.Netgalley.com! Go make your request! It's amazing! Fans of THE HUNGER GAMES will love this series*

OUTSIDE IN picks up about 12 weeks after the end of INSIDE OUT. The world of Inside has been turned…er…upside down ;> and there are many changes and problems involved with the aftermath. Trella feels she has done her part and can now relax and explore, but soon trouble drags her back into the thick of things. And there’s a new threat from Outside.

It’s coming out in March 2011. I have the first chapter up on my website, but I must warn everyone that if you haven’t read INSIDE OUT yet…DON’T read this chapter!! Or even the cover blurb!! There are spoilers that just can’t be helped. Here’s a link to the chapter: http://www.mariavsnyder.com/books/OutsideIn.php

9) Are there any dates/locations of workshops or signings you’re scheduled to attend in the near future? (Not that we’re bragging but the fact that we share your home state so we can attend your signings and launch parties, makes us pretty darn lucky. Go Pennsylvania!)

I’m going to cheat with this question. Since my schedule is constantly changing, I have an appearances page on my website which I list all my events, and I’m pretty good about updating it. For 2011, I’m not only going to have PA events, but I’m going to Ohio and Texas! Here’s a link for all the details to date: http://www.mariavsnyder.com/appearances.php

10) If you weren’t a writer what kind of profession could you see yourself in?
I’m really fascinated by the criminal mind, so I would love to be a criminal psychologist.

Now for a little fun with our Quick Fire Questions!

1. Hobbies? Photography, volleyball and making jewelry.
2. Favorite dessert? Donuts.
3. Pets? One black cat named Valek ;)
4. Ideal vacation spot? The beach.
5. Favorite book of 2010? The Iron King, by Julie Kagawa.
6. Favorite childhood book? Fredrick by Leo Leonni
7. Ideal way to spend a Saturday? Sleeping, reading and not moving off the couch.
8. Favorite character you’ve created? Janco – he’s just too fun to write
9. Hardest part of writing? Including descriptive details – yuck!
10. Biggest goal for 2011? To spend more time with my family.

Thank you so much Maria!
Now it's time for the juicy details on how to enter the giveaway...




6 comments:

Amy said...

Great interview!!! I love all of Maria's books and am really looking forward to Outside In.

Kira said...

What gorgeous covers! I would love to add those to my book collection, absolutely beautiful! I love Maria's Study series, and am looking forward to reading Inside Out as well as Outside In

52 Faces said...

I hyperventilated when I heard about this contest. Poison Study is like the PERFECT book for pre-published writers. It's my Writing Study. I've been looking for a set of the Sitia/Ixia series. ::drooling::

Trina said...

Yes, I loved the interview, but I love reading about Maria because she's so real and so amazing. And I love her books. :)

just a thought, you might want to add a link to your facebook and twitter profiles so that we can easily find you to follow you on those sites.

Thanks again, and please, pick me!

purplg8r said...

Thanks for the interview and contest!

mindymonck said...

I will be entering, even though I have the Australian cover. Only because I would like to donate the books to Ronald McDonald House Monash, Vic Australia. I think that many families will be able to benifit from excaping to another world. The books helped me when my son was batteling cancer. Great work Maria :)