Author Interview: A Chat with Maria V Snyder
Today, I am bringing you guys an exclusive interview with none other than Maria V Snyder! You might recognise her name from her famous series Poison Study. Around this time last year, I read her novel Navigating the Stars, the first novel in her Sentinels of the Galaxy series (you can find my review for it here!), and today this Q&A is to celebrate her sequel in the same series; Chasing the Shadows. I’m currently reading it and loving it, so I hope you enjoy her interview answers as much as I did:
Author Interview: A Chat with Maria V Snyder
1. Hi! How are you? How does it feel to have the next instalment of the Sentinels of the Galaxy to be out?
Hello! I’m doing well and very excited about the release of Chasing the Shadows. Although, I must admit there’s some anxiety as well. Since the first book, Navigating the Stars received such great reviews I don’t want to disappoint my readers.
2. Chasing the Shadows is, I believe, your 17th novel – which is amazing. Does it feel just as exciting to be publishing this series compared to your last?
Actually, it’s my 18th novel! And I’m amazed that I’ve written so many! Each new book’s release is just as exciting and nerve-wracking as the last one. It never feels routine and I always celebrate the day.
3. What inspired you when it came to creating this new sci-fi world and these wonderful characters?
I visited Beijing, China way back in 2004 and learned about the first Emperor’s Terracotta Army while there. We didn’t have time to visit where the warriors were discovered, but years later an exhibition of them came to the National Geographic Museum in Washington, DC and I saw them. I was fascinated by the fact they were built to protect the Emperor in the afterlife. My imagination kicked in as I thought about what the Emperor needed protection from–mostly likely demons–and what would happen if a warrior was destroyed. Perhaps a broken statue mean there was one less defender in the afterlife. An idea to write about a character in the afterlife, fighting demons in order to reach heaven sparked. Adding to the conflict was having defenders disappear as their terracotta statues were moved or destroyed by looters. This idea percolated in my head for years, but I couldn’t find the right…hook. Not until I sparked on the idea of having terracotta warriors discovered on other planets in our galaxy. Once I thought of that, lots of other elements came together. Having Lyra’s parents be the archaeological experts of these warriors was a natural choice, and the other characters arrived as needed for the story.
4. I personally loved all the different asian-inspired elements such as the warriors, did you travel to any Asian countries as part of your research?
My visit to China in 2004 gave me an appreciation of the Chinese people and culture. Their myths and history are quite fascinating, and the sheer size of the Terracotta Army is just amazing. I saw the warriors in DC and then again when the exhibition came to Philadelphia in 2017. I read a bunch of books on the army and watched a few documentaries about them. And I’ve just returned from another trip to China! This time we visited the archaeological site in Xi’an, China and I saw the warriors where they were originally buried. It’s a massive site that is still being uncovered. It was my favorite stop on our trip!
5. Lyra is such a strong character and was a joy to read, but out of the full cast of characters would you be able to pick a favourite that resonated the most to you?
I was surprised by how much I liked Officer Tace Radcliff. He was just going to be an antagonist–a grumpy voice of authority to add more conflict in Lyra’s life. But he developed into a complex character and I found I really enjoyed writing the scenes with him and Officer Morgan. She’s a nice counterpoint to him. Also, Captain Harrison leapt off the page and that was unexpected. Even though they weren’t a big part of the story, he and his bridge crew really came to life.
6. My absolute favourite part of the whole world-building was the technology and the concept of worming that Lyra is so good at. What did you have in mind when creating such an advanced system of technology, not really seen in YA Sci-Fi before?
I was trying to imagine the next step in our technology. We have the internet and how it allows us to connect with everyone worldwide. Our computing power is increasing and I just envisioned this vast network that expanded beyond our world – more galaxy-sized, yet the internal workings are on a lightening fast quantum scale. This combination gives them more computing power and enabled scientists to build spaceships and to crinkle space for faster travel. It also allows communications to be almost instant.
7. Off the top of your head, what are your top 5 tips to aspiring writers?
1 – Read widely in the genre you are writing.
2 – Write, write, and write some more. The more you write, the better you’ll get.
3 – Finish that first draft! Don’t be tempted to stop after a few chapters to revise or to start something new. Get the book done, you can revise once it’s finished.
4 – Get feedback from other writers. While it’s tempting to have a close friend or family member provide feedback for your book, they don’t have the necessary skills to give you a good and honest critique.
5 – Don’t give up. Writing is hard and getting a book published is even harder. Don’t let a few rejections stop you. Persistence is key!
8. After writing so many books, would you say you’ve managed to achieve a good work-life balance? Do you have a writing routine you can share?
It took me a number of years, but I’ve found a routine that has worked for me. Ideally, my day follows this pattern: I start writing around 10 p.m. and work until 3 a.m. I read for an hour and go to bed at 4 a.m. I wake up around noon and spend the afternoon working on the business side of writing–answering emails, posting on social media, marketing, running errands. I stop around 5 p.m. to have dinner with my husband and I take the rest of the evening off (until 10 p.m.). My days don’t always work out that way, but that’s my goal. I do take Saturdays off–no writing, no marketing, etc…
9. This novel was such a fun read and action-packed but what is the number one thing you would say you’d want readers to take away from it?
In Navigating the Stars, Niall tells Lyra that she refuses to be ignored. And I think that’s what these books are showing. That you should speak up and express an opinion even if no one asked you. To not be silent because you’re afraid or uncertain of the response. These days in the USA, it’s becoming more important for teenagers and young adults to speak up – there’s a slogan, “if you see something, say something.” That’s what I want readers to take away – to refuse to be ignored.
10. Lastly, what can we expect from you next?
The City of Zirdai, Book 2 in my Archives of the Invisible Sword series is coming out in Australia in June of 2020, and Defending the Galaxy, the third and last book of my Sentinels of the Galaxy series is coming out worldwide in November 2020.
Maria V Snyder
When Maria V. Snyder was younger, she aspired to be a storm chaser in the American Midwest so she attended Pennsylvania State University and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Meteorology. Much to her chagrin, forecasting the weather wasn’t in her skill set so she spent a number of years as an environmental meteorologist, which is not exciting…at all. Bored at work and needing a creative outlet, she started writing fantasy and science fiction stories. Over a dozen novels and numerous short stories later, Maria’s learned a thing or three about writing. She’s been on the New York Times bestseller list, won a half-dozen awards, and has earned her Masters of Arts degree in Writing from Seton Hill University, where she is now a faculty member. Her favorite color is red. She loves dogs, but is allergic, instead she has a big black tom cat named…Kitty (apparently naming cats isn’t in her skill set either). Maria also has a husband and two children who are an inspiration for her writing when they aren’t being a distraction. Note: She mentions her cat before her family.
When she’s not writing she’s either playing volleyball, traveling, or taking pictures. Being a writer, though is a ton of fun. Where else can you take fencing lessons, learn how to ride a horse, study marital arts, learn how to pick a lock, take glass blowing classes and attend Astronomy Camp and call it research? Maria will be the first one to tell you it’s not working as a meteorologist.
Readers are welcome to check out her website for book excerpts, free short stories, maps, blog, and her schedule at http://www.MariaVSnyder.com.
I hope you guys enjoyed this interview, especially if you read and enjoyed the first book, Navigating the Stars! Look out for my book review for Chasing the Shadows very soon as I finish it up and for the final instalment in the Sentinels of the Galaxy trilogy in 2020.
Until next time,