Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Adiemus by Karl Jenkins.
Day two of Maria V. Snyder week! Today we get to find out about which characters are named after her parents, who Yelena was originally supposed to fall in love with, and how Valek felt when Yelena drank the My Love poison.
Don't forget to answer the question at the bottom for a chance to win a signed copy of Sea Glass!
[EDIT: Storm Glass, Storm Glass! A thousand humble apologies about the mix-up. My fault, not hers].
Spoilers are in red.
[Me]: 9. You have received many awards and nominations for your books (including the Beehive award which is where I first saw your book!), but you say there is one "award" in particular that has affected you stronger than any other. Would you mind sharing a little bit of that story with us and the incredible young woman you met along the way?
[MS]: I don't think I won the Beehive ;> but Poison Study did win the Utah/Salt Lake County Library System's Reader's Choice award. As for the other “award,” a few months after Poison Study was published, I received a wonderful email from a reader who asked me to be her “Tuesdays with Morrie” mentor for her high school English class. She went on to explain that the main character in my book, Yelena saved her life. She had been considering suicide, but when she read about all the things Yelena endured she felt she, too could endure her own problems. We exchanged emails weekly for three months for her report, but we still keep in contact. I even met her and her parents and we spent a wonderful day together. Every time I look at her smiling picture on my desk, it's like winning an award – the best award ever!
10. Your office sounds completely nifty. Your husband made it for you, right? Could we possibly see a picture of your home office, complete with the weapons you use to practice your fight scenes? :)
My husband enjoys doing woodworking and I designed this huge U shaped desk for my office and he built it from cherry wood that had been cut down from his father's farm. He also made me built in bookcases. I helped with staining the wood, but he did everything else :)
11. Your "secondary characters" impressed me, people like Ari and Janco, Lief and Opal. You made them so real. With so little "screen time", how did you manage to make them so lovable and complex? (I'm especially curious since you are a pantser writer and I most certainly am not).
As a “pantser” the characters develop as I worked with them. I really don't plan them out or have any advice or techniques other than to give them each an unique trait. Since I never know if or when a secondary character becomes more important in the story, I try to give them all a little tweak. Here's an example to explain better. Opal's parents – they briefly show up in Magic Study and have a little more screen time in Fire Study. I named them after my parents, thinking they would be side characters. Then my editor convinces me to write the Glass books and suddenly these two characters are way more important.
12. The idea of "My love" is so fascinating. Where did that idea pop up from pantser? ;) And another question I must know - how did Valek feel when she said those words at the Commander's table?
Again I'll have to credit my subconscious for brewing up that poison. I knew I had to invent poisons because I couldn't find real poisons that fit with my plot (the nerve! :). In doing research on poisons there were a lot of spousal poisons throughout the ages so it just bubbled when I needed a name.
Interesting that you picked up on that scene with Valek and Yelena. When I had originally thought of the idea of using a food taster, I thought I would use a monarch for my fantasy book. And I imagined a scene where the king had fallen in love with his food taster and he has to watch her swallow food that he suspects is poisoned. I thought the fear and sense of doom would make a powerful scene. Well when the Commander came along and assassinated my King, the scene changed and that one with Valek and Yelena is the closest to my original vision.
To answer the question (finally!), Valek is terrified of losing her, but he can't show any emotion besides concern that some one tried to poison the Commander.
13. Your first idea for this series came from a king who had fallen in love with his poison taster (brilliant premise!). But at what point did it become Valek, the Commander's chief security officer (and all-around assassin) who took his place? How did our hero come onto the scene?
LOL – I guess I should have read through these questions first :) I always knew I'd needed a security chief so Valek was a part of the story from early on, but he wasn't going to be romantically involved with Yelena. I had thought the Commander would, but then we all know how that wouldn't work ;) As I wrote the story, Yelena and Valek's relationship developed and deepened until they decided to be together. When I read back through the manuscript, I shouldn't have been surprised as the clues were all there!
14. A little more on the genesis of your series. It first came from a quote by Orson Scott Card. Could you share that with us? He mentioned a monarchy specifically, then someone came and murdered your entire royal family. That ended up being the Commander. What was that experience like for you? :)
The Commander came along as a conscious decision. I had written the first couple of chapters with a King and while the idea of having a food taster be a main character was unique, I thought having a monarchy was not unique enough so I changed it to a military dictatorship. Once I had the Commander in place, the rest of the story flowed better.
15. Also, why call chocolate criollo? (And what you decide to use chocolate as a controlling food?) :)
According to my husband, chocolate is a magical substance :) I decided to call it by a little known sub-species of chocolate because, despite my husband's claims, it does a lot more in my story than in real life. The genus of cocoa is Theobroma, which is Latin for Food of the gods.
16. Do you have a favorite type of chocolate? :)
I enjoy dark chocolate – the best is Dove dark and my favorite candy bar is the Milky Way Midnight, which has the Dove dark chocolate.
Second day, second chance! (remember, followers only. But you can be an old or new follower. Just follow by the end of Friday for it to count). Make sure you tell everyone else too! Because signed books are cool and Maria is telling us all these amazing secrets. :D Second question:
What is your favorite kind of chocolate? (if you hate chocolate, say so and that counts.)