MVS: My readers are the reason I revisited Yelena and Valek. They’ve been clamouring for more stories since Fire Study was published back in 2008 and I finally had an idea that I thought would be good enough for a novel.
What do you have in store for Yelena in this new series?
MVS: Yelena is shot with a crossbow bolt in the first couple of pages and soon after her magic is blocked. She then tries to find a cure while keeping ahead of her many enemies who are taking advantage of her situation. The Sitian Council is becoming more and more anti-magician and their relationship with Ixia is strained to the breaking point. All problems that Yelena has to deal with.
Can fans expect to see the return of any familiar faces?
MVS: Oh yes! Valek, Ari, Janco, Leif, Opal, Devlen, and Reema are all back, plus a few new ones as well.
Each of your worlds is highly developed and distinctive. How much research goes into creating each world? Where do you find inspiration?
MVS: I have to admit, that while I do lots of research for things like glass blowing, riding horses, and picking locks, I don’t do a ton of research for my worlds. I think Ixia came from my experience during 12 years of Catholic school where we wore a uniform everyday. The Fifteen Realms came from a Baltic Sea cruise where we stopped in Sweden, Finland, Russia, Poland, and Latvia. I get inspiration from a number of things. Life is a sea of stories and I’ll spark on the strangest things—like a comment from my kids, or an article in a magazine, or when I’m traveling, or from a random conversation with a stranger on a train. I dreamt the idea for Inside Out – yep in one night, I dreamt the entire story—characters, antagonists, world, and even the twists at the end. I wish I could remember what I ate for dinner that night as that hasn’t happened again!
Is it harder to create a new fantasy world or to return to writing an old one?
MVS: Each presents their own challenges. Writing in an established world is easier overall because the world is already developed, but I need to remind readers what’s been explained about the world before, and I don’t want to confuse new readers, yet I don’t want to explain too much and bore those who have good memories (a hard balance). Plus I’ve already established the boundaries of the world and can’t change things to suit the story. A new world is fun to do, but more work in creating it. Then everything needs to be explained and that can take away from the story’s action and characters.
Fantasy has become increasingly popular in YA over recent years. Why do you think that is? What do you love about writing it?
MVS: I think fantasy lets readers escape from their own problems and troubles. It’s hard to be too worried about a test when a character is worried about living through a big battle. Plus having magic is fun and being different in fantasy is usually a good thing. I enjoy reading fantasy so writing it seemed a natural progression for me. I think what I like most are the horses and swords. I think having characters jump in a car or call on the phone is just too easy, and I never liked guns for the same reason—it’s too easy.
Out of all of your worlds which would you rather live in?
MVS: I’d live in Ixia. I attended 12 years of Catholic school and never once minded wearing a uniform – it just made my mornings easier. I’d also like to think I’d be one of the Commander’s advisers or one of Valek’s spies and that sounds like fun.
Which of your characters is most like you?
MVS: Opal. She starts out very insecure with low self-esteem and that was me in high school. I had one friend and while I loved acting and dancing, I never thought I was good enough to pursue either of those as a career. I also loved storms and was good in math and science, which is why I earned a meteorology degree, but it took me a number of years to figure out what I was supposed to do and be comfortable with it.
Do you know how this series will end? Do you write towards it or see where the story leads you?
MVS: I’ve no idea where the story will end. I just finished the first draft of Night Study and it didn’t follow any of my plans for the story. Nope, it just ignored me and the events that happened are quite a surprise. Therefore, I’ve no idea what’s going to happen in Dawn Study. Which I guess means that I follow the story.
What three words best describe Shadow Study?
MVS: Action-packed, heart-warming, unputdownable (my spell checker says this isn’t a word, but I’ve already had multiple readers say this to me after finishing the book ;).
Thanks so much for hosting me on your blog. If your readers would like more info about me and my books, I have the first chapter of all my books on my website as well as a number of free short stories (including ones with Yelena and Valek) they can read. Here’s the link: http://www.mariavsnyder.com. My Facebook page is where I’m the most active with updates and news. Here’s the link: http://www.facebook.com/mvsfans
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