Maria V Snyder is the author of the popular Study Series. Her new novel, Storm Glass, is scheduled for release in April of 09. Maria sat down with us recently for a quick Q&A. The interview contains a few minor spoilers about Storm Glass, but nothing too major. Storm Glass is our book of the month here at yaReads, so grab a copy, get reading and tell us what you think!
Your new novel Storm Glass incorporates both the art of glassmaking and a knowledge of the weather. How much research did you have to do into both of these areas, or did you already have all the knowledge you needed?
I already knew quite a bit about the weather since I have a college degree in Meteorology ☺ However, for the glassmaking, I needed to take a bunch of classes in how to blow glass and work with molten glass.
Are you more interested in glassmaking, or the weather?
My interest is about the same. I always enjoyed being creative. I danced, painted and acted while in High School, but I also liked math and science. The best thing about being a writer, I can have interests in a wide variety of subjects and I have a good excuse to take classes.
This is your fourth novel, is the writing process getting easier for you now?
I wish! While it’s not easier, I do have a little more confidence that I can finish a novel. Otherwise, the writing is the same—getting my butt in the chair and getting the story out.
How did your writing experience with Storm Glass compare to that you had during the Study Series?
I had more stress with Storm Glass. Everyone loved Yelena in the Study Series and wanted more books from her point of view. I needed a break and wanted to write something new. So while I was excited about Storm Glass, I worried my readers would be disappointed. I’ve gotten a few reviews and, so far, they’ve been positive. (sighing in relief!)
Is Opal’s tale planned out as a trilogy?
I don’t plan anything when I’m writing. I was surprised Yelena’s story spanned three books. Right now, there will be three books in Opal’s tale. However, I don’t think of those three as a trilogy, but like a series because I tried very hard to make each book have its own beginning, middle and end. And I hope to add more books in both series eventually.
Opal is a very different character to Yelena from the Study Series and each character has their own distinct voices. Did you find transitioning from Yelena to Opal challenging?
YES! Yelena wanted to take over and I re-wrote the beginning a few times to try to get into Opal’s head. Once I figured out that Opal is an artist and she would view the world with more of an artistic flare, I was able to tell her story.
With regard to the Stormdancers, can you explain what it is about their abilities that enables them to harness the weather?
The Stormdancers are considered magicians. However, they use their magic to draw the storm’s energy into a glass orb, rendering a strong storm into a mild rain. They are also connected to the atmosphere, and can use their magic to make the wind blow or have someone struck by lightning. They’re very critical to Sitia since they calm potentially lethal storms and provide a source of energy to the factories.
If it is so dangerous for the Stormdancer clans to live in the caves by the beach, why don’t they relocate to higher ground where it’s safer?
Only the Stormdancers live in the caves, and only during the two storm seasons. The rest of the clan lives on high ground—some are indigo farmers and others work in factories, producing metal goods. When a big storm comes in, the Stormdancers want to be out on the sea rocks so they can harvest the energy before the storm reaches land. The others who work with them will relocate to the higher caves to avoid the waves.
If Opal weren’t a glassmaker, what would she be?
I think she would find a career that helped others, but I don’t know what it would be. Being a glassmaker is part of who she is ☺
Would Kade still be interested in Opal if she were less talented with glass?
I don’t think they would have met if she weren’t a glass magician. The Master Magicians thought the problem with the orbs could be related to magic and she’s the only one in Sitia who has the glass magic it made sense to send her to help the Stormdancers out.
Opal’s lack of confidence is due in part by her childhood. She’s the third child. Her oldest sister, Mara is a stunning beauty who received all the attention. Her other sister, Tula was her best friend, and her younger brother Ahir, was the baby of the family and a boy so he was unique in his own right. Opal couldn’t blow a bubble into molten glass, which is the way to craft vases, tumblers, bowls etc… what she was blowing was magic, but she didn’t know that until she was 14.
When Tula died, she lost her closest friend and sister. The events in Magic Study—her kidnapping and what happened after also took away any feelings of self worth. Add to four years of school at the Keep being called a One Trick Wonder…and she’s in serious need of some confidence. Although, she is quite competent with her glass skills. When it comes to sand receipts and working with molten glass, she’s in her element.
Yelena has a cameo in Storm Glass. Are we going to get to see Valek in the next novel? I know I speak for all when I say I’m dying to know if his relationship with Yelena goes the distance (there is a lot stacked up against them).
Valek is in the third Glass book (untitled for now). Since the Glass books are focused on Opal, I really couldn’t add Valek into the story unless he had a reason for being there (other than we all love him ☺). I mentioned in the answer to question #5, that I see these books as a series. I’m hoping to go back to Yelena and Valek in the future and see what troubles they get themselves mixed up in.
Besides your own, what was the last novel you read?
I just finished reading Life as We KnewIt, by Susan Beth Pfeffer. It’s the book I’m reviewing for you. ☺ I’m reading a bunch of YA books right now. One reason is because I enjoy them so much, and the other is that I’m writing more YA books. My first “official” YA book, Inside Out will be released in April 2010. The interesting thing is I wrote that book the same as all my other books, it’s just shorter and the protagonist is a little younger.
What do you like to do on the weekends?
What I like to do is usually very different than what I end up doing. My preference would be to play with my kids, read, do sports (skiing, volleyball, or walleyball), or take a weekend trip. What I end up doing is running the kids to soccer games, or their friends’ houses, cleaning the house, doing laundry, food shopping, and catching up on sleep and emails. I’ll also have book signings on weekends or I’ll be at a conference for the weekend.
Are you a dog or a cat woman?
Dog! I grew up with a dog and love dogs. My yellow lab, Hazelnut is almost 16 years old and she’s here snoring by my side.
What are your three most prized material possessions?
My wedding/engagement rings, a letter and picture from a special reader, and the Compton Crook Award Plaque.
Plug your next novel here…
Sea Glass is coming out in September 2009. Like the colorful pieces of sea glass washed up on shore, Opal has weathered rough waters and twisting currents. But instead of finding a tranquil eddy, Opal is caught in a riptide. Her unique glass messengers which allow instant communication over vast distances have become a vital part of Sitian society. Once used solely by the Councilors and magicians, other powerful factions are now vying for control. Control of the messengers equals control of Sitia. Unfortunately that also means control of Opal.
If that isn’t enough of a problem, Opal’s determination to prove blood magic is still being used is met with strong resistance. The Council doubts her, her mentor doubts her, and even her family is concerned. When her world is turned upside down, she begins to doubt herself. In the end, Opal must decide who to believe, who to trust, and who has control—otherwise she will shatter into a million pieces and be lost at sea.
Check out our review of Storm Glass here