Interview - Maria V. Snyder week!

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Annie by Safetysuit.

Author of the amazing Study series, the incredibly sweet and fabulous Maria V. Snyder has agreed to do a week long interview with us! Here you will discover secrets and little-known facts about Poison Study and the Study world (including how Valek felt when she drank the My Love poison as well as the original ending for Poison Study!). There are delicious spoilers galore. I have tried to highlight them in red for the people who have not read it (you should look to that, really. You're missing out).

But there's more! To show how nice she is, she is offering a free, signed copy of her new Study series, Sea Glass! [EDIT: the book is Storm Glass, the first in her new series that takes place in the same world. Sorry]. The rules are at the bottom of interview (sorry, no international this time). Look for the happy ##### to show the end of spoilers. :)

Let's begin! (because she is a seriously awesome person).

[Me]: 1. 10 years from writing Poison Study to when it hit shelves. That is quite a while. What was the evolution of the story? How did it grow during that time? Did things come in or fall away? What were they?

[MS]: I started writing Poison Study after I had gone to a writer's conference. I was pregnant with my second child and taking care of a very active 2 year old. At the conference I met Kate Elliott. I really enjoyed her books and when she said she met her deadline despite having twins two weeks before it, I thought if she can do it with twins, I can, too. She also mentioned setting short term goals, to not think of writing an entire novel, but to set smaller milestones. So I decided I would start my novel and set a goal of writing one chapter a month. And I did, even through the birth of my daughter, I wrote one chapter of Poison Study a month and handed it in to my writer's group. I remember Jenna napping in her car seat next to me as I attended meetings.

It took me three years to write Poison Study and, the advice that the best way to improve your writing is by writing, is spot on! The second half of the novel was so much better than the first half. I spent two and a half years revising the manuscript until I was happy with it. Then it took me two and a half more years to find a publisher. Then two years of waiting until the manuscript became a book! Ten years total!

Since I spent a long time with the manuscript, I didn't have any deleted scenes. I spent a lot more time doing “head work” where I would think about the story while changing diapers or doing the laundry so that when I had that hour to write, I was ready to go. Now, I don't have that luxury as I need to meet deadlines and my readers don't like to wait :)

2. In another interview you called waiting for your book to come out "the longest pregnancy in history." That made me grin because I think I know exactly what you mean. What did you do during that time while waiting for it to come out? How did you promote the book in preparation for it to come out?

I wrote Magic Study during that time, which was a good thing as there wasn't any reviews for Poison Study yet, so I didn't feel any pressure :) I also worked with author, C. E. Murphy at that time she was still designing websites and I pull content together for the site. I planned a big bash to celebrate the book's release. I invited my entire family and all my friends. It was a great party – everyone came even my cousins from Florida. I printed bookmarks and postcards and arranged local book signings and readings.

3. Your research process is fascinating. You really get into it (fencing lessons, glass blowing, karate, horseback riding, is there anything you can't do?). Do you have any fun stories to share with us? What was fencing like?

I won't swim with sharks, bungee jump, or jump from an airplane (unless it was crashing) :) I do enjoy hands-on research. Fencing was different than I expected – the blades move so fast, and the blocks are all in the wrist – my vision of swinging a sword was quickly dashed. The funniest moment came when my fencing instructor, pulled me and the only other female student aside. The poor guy's face was bright red as he explained that we needed to protect our chests. He gave us each a set of metal circles to tuck into our bras – lol! Talk about stuffing a bra - I felt like Xena the Warrior Princess!

4. Your husband's job. So cool! I had no idea you were married to a chocolate taster. What is that like? What were his lessons like? And what exactly is the most important part about food tasting?

When we were dating, my husband brought a candy bar for me every time :) We didn't have lessons exactly, but I did go into his office and do taste panels with him. The most important part is to take your time and don't wolf the food down. You need to let the chocolate melt in your mouth and move it around to all your taste buds before swallowing.

5. Do you have a favorite song?

I love Natasha Bettingfield's Unwritten – it a great song for a writer :)

6. Your characters come to you as you write you pantser (see: a writer who writes "by the seat of their pants" = no outline). The Commander's character greatly intrigued me. What was that revelation process like?

I discovered the Commander's secret as I wrote and I was very surprised – and I love it when my characters surprise me. I think my subconscious works on my characters when I'm doing other things and then while I'm writing, these surprises bubble to the surface of my mind. I really didn't have to go back to change anything, the clues were all there.

7. I have to ask because I must know. What was the original ending for Poison Study since it was changed to be more dramatic for the sequels?

At first, I had Yelena fight Valek and win, therefore becoming his second-in-command. But my husband quickly pointed out that since she's injured and new to fighting there would be no way she'd win. He's my logic police :) I changed it to her being exiled to the south, but when my publisher decided they wanted more Study books, we upped the stakes and added the execution warrant, which does make sense when you think about the Commander's personality and his intolerance about magic.

8. For such an amazing book I am shocked to see how many rejections it received. No agents out of 40 interested and 17 rejections from publishers? How did you not give up? Once you were picked up, did you do anything to make sure your book was a success?

I had made a list of 20 publishers that was open to fantasy, and I was determined to try them all before giving up. I did stop writing fiction and concentrated more on writing articles for magazines and I applied to graduate school, thinking I would teach. I also put in to write a history of a local company for their 30th anniversary. The funny thing is I sent Poison Study to #17 in June, sent in the proposal for the history project, sent article ideas and queries to local magazines, and applied to graduate school all in the beginning of the summer of 2003. I heard nothing back all summer! Early October, I received THE CALL about Poison Study, the editor from the local magazine emails, assigning me 4 articles, I get accepted into graduate school and get approval to write the history Рall within one week in October РLOL! It was like the clich̩, my ships were coming in Рso many I didn't have enough room at my port. I delayed grad school a year so I could get everything done.

As far as promotion goes, it's hard to get the word out about a new book. The publisher has a limited budget and they did a bunch of things for me. They sent me on a mini book tour and had special displays in all the Barnes & Noble stores, but if people haven't heard about a new author it can be difficult. I ran contests on my website and have a referral program (win a free book if you get 5 friends/family to email me that you recommended my books to them), which helped spread the word. In fact, I still have those contests on my site. Word of mouth is the best marketing for a book.


Okay! So now, all you have to do to win a signed copy of Sea Glass by Maria Snyder is to comment below. Three days, three chances to win. However, this is a "for followers only" contest. So if you aren't already, clicky clicky! :)

So for the first question:

Who is your favorite literary couple? (you can have more than one. Trust me, I do).


Vanessa said...

Not to be a suck-up, but one of my favorite literary couples is definitely Yelena and Valek. I also love Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, and the couple from Along For the Ride by Sarah Dessen, though I can't remember their names at the moment.

Great contest! gypsyrover21(at)

By the way, Heather... your comment form is all screwed up. I can only see the prompt and I'm just taking it on faith that my words are being typed in. Sorry for any misspellings =o)

Sandy said...

I read Poison Study a few months ago...but I still remember everything that happens since I loved it so much! I can't believe how long it took for PS to get published! (and all those rejections. Crazy!) Thank goodness it did though :)

What a fun interview I can't wait for more this week! ;)

I have a lot of favorite literary couples but one that I love particularly is Margaret & Mr. Thornton from North & South. AND Zane & Danica from Hawksong. :)

Tales of Whimsy said...

Wow. What a fantastic interview. I love the creative questions you asked her. SO cool!

Lenore Appelhans said...

Maybe off topic, but I am going to read Inside Out this month!!

Heather Zundel said...

NotNessie - Valek and Yelena totally count. Why do you think I chose that question for today? :)

PiratePenguin - Same here! It is a story that just sticks with you. It won't go away but I love it. (I can't believe how long it took either!). I LOVE Danica and Zane! I'm so glad you brought them up. Now I need to go reread Hawksong...

Juju - Thanks. It was all fangirl squealing the whole time.

Lenore - I am so jealous! I wish I had a copy of that. Yeah you go now and flaunt it in my face later. ;)

Nonie said...

Those are really nice questions! Umm...well, my favorite couple is...umm...Anne/Gilbert, or Ron/Hermione. Err...that was a really hard question for some reason.

And thanks for holding the contest!

Nonie said...

sorry about the comments up there! Something really weird happened to my computer as I was posting this!

Unknown said...

How exciting! I just fell across your blog, and I love that you got to interview someone!!! How fun!!! I'm going to have to say I love Ron and Hermione, the relationship between the two of them is brilliant!

jesmck319 said...

Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy!

Heather Zundel said...

Jen - Thanks for stopping by! Interviews are fantastic, and a lot of fun. It is so funny, I didn't pick up on the Ron/Hermione chemistry until the last two books. I felt really silly afterward.

Jess - Thanks for coming too! And really, how much more classic can you get than Elizabeth and Darcy? :D

Tibidabo said...

My favorite couple would have to be Fanny Price and Edmond Bertram from Mansfield Park.

Britta said...

I second Fanny Price and Edmund Bertram from Mansfield Park. But I'm also a HUGE Dark Hunters fan so I'm going to go with Zarek and Astrid from Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dance With The Devil (Dark-Hunter #4).