Welcome to third and final installment of Calico In Conversation with Maria V. Snyder. If you missed Parts One and Two, click below to catch up:
Editor’s Note: this interview was originally conducted in March through May of 2016.
You started out with the Study trilogy, then the spin-off Glass trilogy, an SF YA duology, then the Healer trilogy, and now you’re back to the Study universe. What brought you back to this world and these characters?
My readers brought me back. They kept asking for more books about Yelena and Valek and I really wanted to write more for them, but I didn’t have an idea that seemed…big enough for another book. Yelena was too powerful and Valek just too skilled a fighter. I thought of writing a prequel about Valek’s life before meeting the Commander up until he meets Yelena, but I think the relationship between the two of them is what really makes the stories. Then I thought of having some hot shot new assassin try for Valek’s job and his interactions with her would be a nice segue for flashbacks into his past…and that was enough to write a new Study book. The plan was to write one, but once I finished Shadow Study, I knew I could write two more. Now, I’m trying to finish Dawn Study before I leave for Australia. [Maria’s Note: which didn’t happen, I’m just wrapping it up and it’s the end of May!]
It’s nice when the ideas come to you! Once this trilogy is done, what’s next? Can you talk about it?
I don’t know what’s next. I have a couple book proposals/ideas that my agent is going to send to my editor. Hopefully, she’ll like one or both.
Is that very common, where agents green-light ideas before the authors start working on them? It’s something I’ve heard of, but I don’t hear of it that often, and I’m not sure if that’s because it’s something authors don’t talk about, or if it’s because not every agent does it, or both?
My agent doesn’t exactly green-light the ideas – we discuss them and he picks out the ones he thinks will sell. For example, I sent him synopses for a fantasy, a YA, and an urban fantasy and, of the three, he thinks the fantasy is the strongest/best idea. My editor also asked if I had any ideas for a YA SF and I did, which my agent is very excited about. So we’re going to send her the fantasy and the YA SF synopses. Once the story sells to my publisher, then I will write them. That’s the one nice thing about being at this stage of my career.
No kidding! You just have to outline ideas and wait to see which will be bought. Then you write! You mentioned it usually takes you 9 months total from start to finish: is this true for ideas that aren’t related to your previous work?
It still takes me about 9 months for a book. When it’s a new world, I have the extra effort of all the world building details, but then I don’t have to keep checking to see what I wrote before. Even tonight when working on Dawn Study, I had to pull out Magic Study and check a few things – that’s also why I have a copy of all my books on my desk, just in case!
Smart plan! I know of authors who have bibles of their world-building, something they can go back and reference. I’d say the one for Yelena’s world is getting pretty vast at this point! I want to go back to the new ideas you mentioned earlier: an urban fantasy written by Maria V. Snyder is something I totally want to get my hands on! Do you work on ideas that haven’t been green-lit by your agent/editor team, just for fun?
I wish I made a series bible for my Study/Glass books, but when I wrote Poison Study, I thought it would be a stand alone novel. 🙂 I don’t have time to work on projects that aren’t under contract right now. I am considering a future where I’m no longer under contract and I can write the books I want and independently publish them on my own. Probably after both my kids are out of college!
You’ve written a lot of fun short fiction that’s been provided via your newsletter. Are there any plans to put them together in a collection, or start releasing each one as an individual e-book?
Yes, I do plan to put them into one anthology with a few new ones. My husband recently retired and is interested in helping me out with the formatting and the accounts. I’m also going to have a print edition.
So you’ve talked a bit about future projects after the latest Soulfinder series wraps up. What else do you have on your agenda? Appearances, release dates, world-domination, etc?
I’ll be in Australia for almost the entire month of April! I’m really excited about that. I’ve been invited by the organizers of SupaNova con, which is the Australian equivalent to Comic Con in the US. They asked me to be a guest for two of their cons–one in the Gold Coast and the other in Melbourne. In between, I’m going to do some events in Sydney. After that, my husband is joining me and we’re going to spend two weeks being tourists. May and June are busy as well with a number of events. I have them all listed on my website at
Dawn Study is due out the end of January 2017. I have world-domination on my “to-do” list, but just haven’t gotten to it yet ;).
Awesome. Sounds like quite the trip, and a wonderful chance to connect with your fans! Do you have any favorite fan encounters?
I’ve lots of readers in Australia, which is fabulous and my favorite encounter is also in Australia. The last time I visited back in August 2011, I did a ton of school visits (2 a day for 8 days) and most of the schools were fine, but one was terrible – the entire school (250+ students) had been brought into this giant assembly room and the kids didn’t care who I was and they talked and fooled around and I stood at the front being ignored and decided after my Australian commitments, I was never going to do another school visit again. The next day was my final school visit for my trip and my “handler” assured me the students (all girls) were familiar with my books. Yeah, yeah. The room had about 100 girls and when I walked in, they reacted as if I was a rock star. I never had that happen before or since. They laughed at my jokes, they asked wonderful insightful questions – it was the best encounter ever and, thanks to them, I will still visit schools (but I make sure the groups are small).
What a great story! So before we wrap things up, I want to ask: what are you currently loving/gushing over? Who should we be reading, what should we be watching, or what should we be doing?
I’ve discovered a couple urban fantasy series that I’m enjoying. Ilona Andrews is a husband and wife team of authors and I love their Kate Daniels series and The Edge books. I’ve also discovered Patricia Briggs about 10 years after everyone else. I just couldn’t get past the cover art – I love strong female protagonists, but I’ve read enough bad UF where the girl is so stubborn, she’s stupid – I just want to slap them. So I thought the Mercy Thompson series would be the same…they’re not! I love the show Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch! I don’t have time to watch TV so I only see a few shows.
Great recommendations! Any movies you’re loving right now?
The last movie I saw in the theater was Joy and that was wonderful. I really like Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper – I loved them in Silver Linings Playbook.
I haven’t seen Joy yet, but I did love Silver Linings Playbook. Outside of writing and entertainment endeavors/hobbies, what kind of things do you enjoy doing in your spare time? Anything that might come as a surprise to readers?
I like to travel but that shouldn’t be a surprise to my readers. 🙂 I also enjoy playing volleyball and skiing. And I love taking pictures. Other than that I’m pretty boring.
Boring? NEVER. After all, you’ve been publishing now for what, 10 years? You’ve done a lot of readings, answered a lot of questions. So is there a question that you WISH someone would ask you, but that you never get? Ask it, and then answer!
Yes, I’ve been a published author for 10 years and have lots of experience. I don’t really have a question that I wish someone would ask – I really think there’s nothing left to ask! Since my husband recently retired early, I’m kind of surprised no one has asked me my plans for retirement. I think my readers don’t want to think about that! I plan to keep writing for the next 5 years at least, after that…who knows!
That’s because they know what I know: just because you “stop” writing doesn’t mean the ideas are going to stop! You may produce fewer books over the years, but I’ll be surprised if you ever truly retire! Do you have any goals for your writing career that you haven’t hit yet? Any dreams? Anything you’d love to write that might surprise your readers because it doesn’t fall into your usual fare?
I’d like to get on the USA Today bestseller list–that would be fun. And I wouldn’t mind if one of my books hit it “big,” but I’m not counting on it. I do have an idea for an erotic fantasy romance, but I don’t know if I have the skills to write it. And if I did, I would be using a pseudonym!
If you went that route, I think you’ve got lots of friends in the SHU program who can help you make sure your skills are up to par! All right, let’s close this. It’s been a fantastically fun interview and I appreciate you taking the time to do this. Where can your readers find you and your work?
This has been really fun! Thanks for inviting me to participate 🙂 Readers can find me at the following links:
Maria, thank you again! Readers, I hope you’ve enjoyed our first month of Calico In Conversation, as well as Maria’s discussion of her writing, her travels, and her inspirations!
Next month, starting July 5th, I sit down with J.L. Gribble, fellow SHU alum and writer of the Steel Empire series!