An interview with bestselling author Maria V. Snyder.
Author of the the New York Times best-selling Study Series POISON STUDY, MAGIC STUDY and FIRE STUDY
This is Jean Marie Ward for BuzzyMag.com reporting from Balticon 45. With me today is Maria V. Snyder, the New York Times bestselling author. Welcome, Maria. You made your mark with the Study series and the Glass series, sweeping romantic fantasies set in a world reminiscent of our Renaissance, but your new series is a dystopian young adult. How hard was it to shift gears from pre-industrial to post- apocalyptic world?
Maria V. Snyder: It wasn’t too hard. I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy books and it’s part of a lot of short stories and everything, so making the switch was really easy. I enjoyed the challenge and being more creative in a different setting was a lot of fun. It was a nice break from my fantasy books.
JMW: What themes did you find yourself carrying over from your adult work into the Inside series?
Maria V. Snyder: A strong female protagonist is always somebody I’m drawn to. That’s something that I like to have in my books so definitely I had that theme, and also the theme of hope. Even though the situation may be really bad and things are really awful, there’s always that slim chance that things will work out. You shouldn’t give up. You should be persistent and stubborn and keep going no matter what’s thrown in front of you. I think that’s throughout all my books.
JMW: What about the importance of relationships?
Maria V. Snyder: I always do like a little bit of romance in my books. I can’t help that. There’s always somebody that they kind of spark. They first hate each other and argue and everything and then they end up being together. I like the fact that they’re partners more so than he’s coming in to rescue her. It never is that way in my books. It’s always like they build a partnership. They work together. They are equally strong. Sometimes she rescues him, and sometimes he does rescue her but it’s not consistent.
JMW: It’s almost like it is in real life.
Maria V. Snyder: Yes. That’s what I hope for, anyway.
JMW: Yes, I guess we all do. How does writing young adult fiction differ from writing for adults or does it?
Maria V. Snyder: It didn’t for me, actually, because I wrote it the same as I would write for an adult. I might have taken out a few curse words that I thought might be a little bit too harsh for the young adults, but I didn’t shy away from anything else. I didn’t shy away. I didn’t worry about word choice. Young adults are very savvy readers. I just went with it. The only thing, this is a little shorter than my adult books and it has a younger protagonist. She’s around 17 instead of 19 or 20.
JMW: Cool, although in past times and certain parts of the world, you’re an adult at 15. Scary thought.
Maria V. Snyder: Yes. It is scary.
JMW: You always teach and mentor the Master of Fine Arts program at Seton Hill University. How have your experiences as a teacher changed the way you approach your work?
Maria V. Snyder: Definitely it’s opened my eyes up to problems. When I see problems in my students’ work and I really harp on them about it and then I go to my own work and there’s the same problem right there in front of my face. It really does help me that way. Also when teaching there are certain things that I’ll pull apart like action scenes. I’m going to teach a 3-hour module on how to write an action scene. Just sitting down and preparing for that module I really learn a lot and then that’s all the stuff I can apply to my writing. It’s all good. All that experience is good for me as a writer, too.
JMW: You’ve been bringing that experience to the cons that you’ve been attending. I notice here you had essentially a mini writing workshop going on.
Maria V. Snyder: Right. Yes. I actually taught three mini writing workshops. What I did is, my Seton Hill classes are three hours long, but I condensed it into an hour workshop and I had one Friday and one Saturday, once a day. They were well attended. I was really surprised. The rooms were actually packed, so I do like to help other writers.
Jean Marie Ward writes fiction, nonfiction and everything in between, including art books, novels (2008 Indie Book double-finalist With Nine You Get Vanyr), and short stories such as WSFA Small Press Award finalist “Lord Bai’s Discovery” and “Personal Demons” in the award-winning anthology Hellebore and Rue. Her videos include author interviews and tutorials.