Maria's brand-new release from Mira, Storm Glass, continues in the same world as her New York Times-bestselling Study series, but with a fascinating new protagonist. I'll let her tell you all about it below.
Oh, and she's giving away a signed copy of her new book to one lucky commenter, so check the rules (Rule 1: there are really no rules) at the bottom of the post.
Hello! Thanks so much for inviting me to your blog! I'm very excited about the release of my new book, Storm Glass. The reviews have been favorable and I'm anxious to hear how my readers like my new protagonist.
As a glassmaker and magician-in-training, Opal understands trail by fire. Now she must test her mettle by discovering who is sabotaging the Stormdancer's glass orbs, killing their most powerful magicians.
The idea for Opal's glass magic sprang from writing my third book, Fire Study. For Fire Study, I learned how to work with molten glass to accurately portray Opal and her family's glass factory. Molten glass glows with a bright orange light that eventually disappears as the glass cools (turning fire into ice). When I worked with the glass, I wished that inner fire would remain. So when I wrote the scene where Yelena sees Opal's glass animals for the first time, she comments on the inner glow. Well, in real life that wouldn't happen, so to explain the inner fire, I had Yelena discover that the glow is magic trapped inside. Magic that can be used by other magicians but not Opal. Only magicians can see the inner glow and they use the magic to communicate telepathically with other magicians far away--like magical cell phones.
This wonderful discovery expanded and became one of the core plot lines in both Storm Glass and Sea Glass. Opal's glass messengers are a major advancement for the people in Sitia and they can also find new magicians who may have been passed over because their magical powers are nontraditional.
As a seat of the pants writer – the unplanned discovery of Opal's magic is the greatest part of writing process for me. Not outlining a plot can be scary, and I always spend the first half of the book worried I don't have enough story for a full novel, and then I spend the second half of the novel worried I have too much story.
But when these golden nuggets are uncovered as I write and there have been lots of them– that, to me, is truly magical.
“I’ll need to examine Kade’s orb,” I said.
“You’ll have to ask him,” Nodin said.
“Me? I thought…”
His brown eyes sparked with glee. “Yes, you. I’m beginning to like you, Opal. But not that much.” He grabbed the sphere and returned it to the back of the cave. “If you want to see Kade’s orb before dark, you better hurry. Once the sun dips below the sea, it turns black fast.”
I followed Nodin down to the beach. The sun hovered near the edge of the horizon, casting shadows along the water’s rippled surface.
“Good luck.” Nodin waved.
The wind whipped hair into my eyes when I stepped out on to the black rocks. I pulled the leather tie from my messy ponytail and tried to recapture all the strands into a neater knot. Funny how I hadn’t noticed the wind on the beach. Calling to Kade had proven futile. My shouts drowned by the sea’s song.
I hadn’t noticed how uneven and jagged the rocks were either. Waves crashed into them, sending spray high into the air. Water soon coated my skin and soaked my clothes. The rocks became slicker with each wave. I was glad I wore my brown boots, even though my boots were filled with water, their thick soles helped me navigate the slippery and rutted outcrop. At one point I climbed over a few sharp boulders, and at another I leapt over a gap. The tight knocking of my heart warned my body to turn around and go back to the beach, but I was determined. Stupid?
No. Determined. Until I reached a space too big to cross. Too big for me. Kade was three rocks farther out. Each separated by a large opening. Had he swam or jumped? It didn’t matter. All that mattered was he heard my shout.
He spun around. And I wished I had waited on the beach. With an angry scowl, Kade moved. I would have marveled at his speed and grace as he flew over the gaps, except he aimed toward me.
An errant wave knocked into me and I grabbed a rough edge to keep from falling. Pain laced my palm and blood welled.
Kade stopped before spanning the space between our rocks. His mouth moved, but the wind snatched half of his words. “…idiot…dangerous…go back!”
I understood his intent and turned to retrace my steps. The waves grew in size and frequency. They hunted me, attacking when I was vulnerable.
“Opal,” shouted Kade.
I looked back in time to see a giant blue-green wall of water rushing toward me.
The roar of the wind and sea ceased the moment the monster wave engulfed me. For one heartbeat, my world filled with gurgling sounds and foamy green light. Then the force of the crashing water slammed me into an unyielding object. The sea grabbed my limp body and tossed it about. Confusion dulled the pain until my forehead smacked into a jagged rock.
My vision clouded with blood and saltwater. Kade and the outcrop grew smaller as the sea sucked me into her liquid embrace.
Why this book? What made you want to write this story?
I must confess, it was my editor's idea. After Fire Study, I wanted to write a different book - one not in the Study world (I had been writing about Yelena for eleven years – I like her, but come on – enough already). My editor really wanted another Study book to keep up the momentum. She mentioned Opal as a potential character.
I liked Opal and she surprised me by how valuable she became in Fire Study, but I couldn't think of a story idea with her. I was explaining this to my editor in Austin, Texas, during a World Fantasy Convention, and was literally in mid-sentence (she claims I was in mid-whine – but you can't believe that? Can you?) when the idea for Storm Glass popped into my mind. At first we were going to title the book Glass Study or Crystal Study, but I wanted a new title since I had a new main protagonist.
Which authors inspire you? Has that changed over time?
I really enjoyed reading Dick Francis's mystery novels. They were written in first person point of view, started with a bang and the action never stopped. So when I first started writing, using first person pov and keeping the stakes high seemed the right thing to do. I'm also a big fan of Barbara Hambly, and her characters are the kind I think about when I'm not reading. I try to create interesting and unique characters like Barbara's. My inspiration from these authors hasn't changed, but over time my list of authors has grown.
What do you find most interesting about the Stormdancers?
The Stormdancers have a unique magical ability. They harvest energy from a storm and bottle it in glass orbs. The orbs are then used to fuel machinery. Stormdancers can also manipulate the weather, within reason, to defend themselves or others. As a former meteorologist, this is very appealing to me. Just think if we had Stormdancers working in the Gulf of Mexico when Hurricane Katrina struck. They could have pulled the energy from the hurricane, reducing it to a harmless rain storm. We could use storm energy instead of oil.
Did you have to do any special research for this book? What did you need to know in order to write it that you didn't know before?
When Opal first appeared in Magic Study, I decided her family own a glass factory so I had a reason for her and Tula to be out late at night (keeping the kilns hot so the sand would melt into glass). When I wrote Fire Study, Opal's involvement became more important and I realized I needed to learn how to blow glass in order to make my ending work. Learning how to work with molten glass was a blast. It's an amazing material and by making a vase myself, I could translate that experience for the story. For Storm Glass, one class wasn't going to be enough. I had to dive deep into the world of glass and I not only worked with hot glass, but I learned about stained glass, fusing glass and making glass beads (well- they are roundish).
What are you writing now?
I'm working on the third glass book (untitled right now). The second book, Sea Glass, will be released in September 2009. Even though both my series will have three books, I still consider them a series. I try and make every book I write a stand alone story. My biggest complaint about trilogies is that middle book is all middle, nothing is resolved or tied up at the end. I make sure each book I write has a beginning, middle and end. There may be a few threads dangling at the end, but the main plot is tied up.
Your character, Opal, can infuse her magic into the glass art she creates. Creating can be a form of magic that touches more than just its creator. Do you have similar ideas that led you to create Opal's character?
Yes. I feel creating a piece of artwork or even writing a story is a physical manifestation of the artist or author. I put my heart and soul into my stories - all my characters are filtered through me before being written and when someone reads my book, they're in a sense reading my mind and emotions.
Office? Closet? Corner of the living room? Do you have a set place to write?
My office in my home is my main writing place. One of my husband’s hobbies is making furniture, so he made me a great U-shaped desk with lots of cabinets and installed built-in bookcases into two walls of my office. All the furniture is made from cherry wood that was cut from trees that had grown on his family’s farm. It’s a great place to work. I have my books, weapons, toys, and resources are all nearby.
Is there anything you especially like to work on in a book? Anything you hate?
I love writing action scenes and dialogue. I don't like writing description and trying to find a fresh way to write "her heart pounded." First drafts are always the most difficult – once that's done, I enjoy the revision process.
Do you enjoy book signings/book conventions?
Yes, very much. I love meeting readers and talking to fellow bookaholics. Plus any excuse to hang out in a book store is fine by me. Conventions are fun to not only meet readers but to network with my fellow authors and friends. Panels at cons can be good sources of information for my writing projects. My favorite events are when I'm invited to schools. Interacting with middle school and high school students is a hoot.
The one downside is I tend to over schedule when I have a new book coming out. I have a hard time saying no. For Storm Glass's release, I'm going to LA for a book release party at a Borders and also stopping in Arizona. My schedule for May is insane with stops at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C., Boston, New York City, Austin, Texas, and a handful of local events in Pennsylvania.
This isn't your first book; tell us a little bit about what else is out there?
My Study series is still available. The series starts with Poison Study, which is about Yelena who is in the dungeon waiting to be executed for murder. She's offered a choice of being the Commander's new food taster or the noose. She chooses life and ends up getting into all kinds of trouble. Magic Study continues Yelena's story. This time instead of learning about poisons, she's trying to learn about magic and how to control her powers. Problems arise unexpectedly and she's tangled in a plot to reclaim a throne and has to deal with a soul-stealing serial killer who is after her. Fire Study is the last Study book (for now) with Yelena as the main character. In Fire Study she battles a Fire Warper, comes to terms with her conflicting loyalties, and fights the lure of power. The Study series has been published as both a fantasy novel for adults with romantic and suspenseful elements, and as young adult titles with different cover art.
Amazon purchase link for Storm Glass
Myspace Page: www.myspace.com/mariavsnyder
Bio: Maria V. Snyder changed careers in 1995 from being a Meteorologist to a Novelist when she began working on her award-winning and New York Times bestselling Study Series which includes Poison Study, Magic Study and Fire Study.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Maria earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Meteorology from the Pennsylvania State University. Much to Maria’s chagrin, forecasting the weather wasn’t one of her skills. Writing, however, proved to be more enjoyable and she has earned a Master of Arts degree in Writing from Seton Hill University. Since becoming a writer, Maria has been busy attending conferences, teaching writing classes, and doing book events.
While doing research for her latest novel, Storm Glass, Maria learned that working with glass requires deft coordination, arm strength, tons of patience, and a good partner—she now has an extensive collection of misshapened paperweights, tumblers, and bowls.
Maria lives with her family in Pennsylvania where she is at work on her second Glass book, Sea Glass which will be released in September 2009.
Thanks so much for stopping by, Maria! Everyone who comments on this post will be entered to win a signed copy of Storm Glass. Maria is currently on tour, but hopefully she'll be able to stop in during the week and answer questions or comments. (No pressure or anything, Maria! :-)
I'll draw a name at random at 11:59pm Wednesday evening Eastern time. Good luck!