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Poison Study (Study, #1)
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Poison Study > Q&A with Maria V. Snyder

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message 1: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (last edited Feb 23, 2010 01:03PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Angie | 2686 comments Mod
As most of you know we are reading Poison Study for our group read in March! I am happy to announce that throughout the month the author Maria V. Snyder will be taking questions that any of you have for her! YEAH!


Jayme (reading_belle) That's awesome! I loved the Soulfinder Trilogy.


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

This is great Angie! Once again I am appalled.


Lisa Vegan (lisavegan) Yay! I loved Poison Study. I read it recently for our upcoming group discussion.


Whitney (chakara) | 127 comments although i didnt think of it as a YA novel I read it and enjoyed it i plan on moving on to Magic Study as soon as im able


message 6: by Maria (last edited Feb 23, 2010 08:59PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Maria V. Snyder (maria_v_snyder) | 20 comments Hello All! Thanks so much for picking Poison Study as your March club read! I'm honored and thrilled :)

Jayne's the Name - why are you appalled? Just curious :)

And Chakara, you're right Poison Study wasn't written with a YA audience in mind, but the overwhelming positive response from young adults (including my 14 year old niece) gave my publisher the idea to try is as a YA title.

I welcome all types of questions and comments - even the tough ones :) (hmmm...perhaps not all types - I wouldn't welcome outright nastiness - those will be forwarded on to Valek ;)

PS: I won't lurk in your discussion thread for the book - so don't hold back ;>


message 7: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (new) - rated it 5 stars

Angie | 2686 comments Mod
Thank you Maria for being here! We will start the questions March 1st so everyone get your books out and start reading! Before we get started let me remind everyone to be nice (not that I have to do that, right?) and to have fun! I love to have goodreads author's stop by!!!


Whitney (chakara) | 127 comments I loved the book valek being one of my favorite I just got the idea in my head that they were all grown atleast or over 18 and the content was a little on the adult side as well. Although I could understand how it would be marketed as a YA novel I usually perfer to only read YA but Poison Study was one of the exceptions. Thanks for the reply


Maria V. Snyder (maria_v_snyder) | 20 comments Charkara - the main characters are over 18 - Yelena is 19 at the start of Poison Study and Valek is 33 (he has to be older in order to be an expert swordsman and to have been a part of the take-over)


Ekram (ekrammarkee) | 6 comments Maria, glad you could come talk to us! I just finished Poision Study (couldn't put it down) and I loved it! My favorite characters were Valeck, Janco, and Yelena.
I'm planning on finishing the rest of the study series in March.
"Everyone makes choices in life. Some bad, some Good. It's called living, and if you want to bow out, then go right ahead."

I love that quote, it's so true!


Kate (Nomalicious Reads) (nomadicwriter) | 17 comments I've been thinking about re-reading Poison Study, and after all this talk i think Im going to go get it off my bookshelf and start reading!
Its an amazing series and I was wondering Maria what made you think of it?


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm appalled that Angie was able to get you to talk to us. Wow, this is awesome. I have yet to read Poison study but it looks great! I'm definitely going to read it.


message 13: by Lexi (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lexi | 5 comments I got Poison Study for my 15th birthday last year. I loved it so much that they day I finished I had my mom take me to the book store to buy Magic Study and Fire Study. I loved the whole series and was so sad when I finished it.


message 14: by Maria (last edited Feb 26, 2010 12:03PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Maria V. Snyder (maria_v_snyder) | 20 comments Jayne - so it's a good appalled :) Angie found me through a mutual friend - Alethea, who is also the moderator of the Study Buddies group here on Goodreads and a good friend of mine.

Kate - in response to your question, I was reading Orson Scott Card’s book, How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy. In chapter 3, Card tells the writer to consider some questions before choosing the main character. He wrote, “Too often—particularly in medieval fantasy—writers think their story must be about rulers. Kings and queens, dukes and duchesses—they can be extravagantly powerful, yes, but too often they aren’t free at all. If you understand the workings of power in human societies, you’ll know that the greatest freedom to act in unpredictable ways is usually found away from the centers of power.”

This comment led me to think about a person who was close enough to the center of power to witness important events, yet not be the Prince or Princess. I thought about a food taster and a scene jumped into my mind. I saw a woman tasting food that was most likely poisoned through the eyes of the King. He watched her with heartbreaking horror because he had fallen in love with her. That led me to wonder about this woman. Who was she? Why was she there? Why would a King fall in love with her? And Poison Study was born.

However the Commander came along and assassinate my monarch (this isn't a spoiler) and things changed as I wrote the story ;>

And the reason I thought about a food taster - my husband works at a major candy company and part of his job is tasting chocolate (I know a good job!) so I think all his comments about flavors and textures and all helped spark the idea.


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

That's really neat.


message 16: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (new) - rated it 5 stars

Angie | 2686 comments Mod
I am so glad Alethea send me a message!


Maria V. Snyder (maria_v_snyder) | 20 comments Jillian - so glad you liked the books :) As for Yelena's past, I didn't at first - but she starts out in the Commander's dungeon awaiting execution (this isn't a spoiler - it's on the cover copy :) Which begs the question why? So I had to think of a really good reason and a big enough crime to land her there.

And the reason I started with her on death row was the Commander. He wouldn't want to risk one of his own loyal officers or Valek with the tasting job, and he doesn't trust anyone to volunteer (who would?), so a prisoner who was going to die anyway...if he/she dies by tasting his food, no big deal.

I tried to make the Commander a stereotypical military dictator, but he refused :)


Jayme (reading_belle) I thought the Commander was one of the most interesting characters I've ever come into contact with. You believed he was a stereotypical dictator but then you learn that he has a heart. What did he do to show this to you?


Maria V. Snyder (maria_v_snyder) | 20 comments He developed like all my characters - with time. I started with an assassin and a dictator and a girl on death row, then I put them to work, throwing all kinds of trouble their way and see how they'll react. That's when they reveal themselves - they start to come into focus. By the end of the book, I know them really well and I try to deepen their personalities during revisions.

When the young girl Mia was brought to him, I had originally thought he would be harsh, but once again he didn't see things my way. And the whole thing with the snow cat...I didn't see it coming.


Tatiana (tatiana_g) Maria, there are a few authors on Goodreads, but you seem to be one of the most active and the most accessible to your readers. Do you enjoy talking to your fans on GR? Do you ever read negative reviews of your works? If yes, do you take your readers' concerns into consideration while writing your future books?


message 21: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (new) - rated it 5 stars

Angie | 2686 comments Mod
I love the artwork for the covers! Did you get to chose the art for the covers for this series?


Maria V. Snyder (maria_v_snyder) | 20 comments Tatiana - I really like this site - it appeals to my inner librarian ;> And once again I have Alethea to thank for hooking me up. What's not to love than a site dedicated to all things BOOK! I don't even worry when I accept friends (unlike Myspace)- if you love books, then you're my new BFF :)

I do enjoy talking with my readers - it's fun to hear how a reader found my books and what the story and characters mean to him/her. I was at a book group's meeting/pot luck dinner one time and it was a blast listening to them argue over my books (good arguing) and I didn't have to say a word - not much can beat that :)

I try and avoid negative reviews - I can read 20 good ones and 1 bad one and that bad one sticks to me like a foul odor :( It derails me and I can't write. Mixed reviews I can handle because the reviewer found something positive to say and he/she usually has valid points and put a lot of time and effort into the review. I wish my writing was flawless - but all I can do is my best.

Usually when I see the reviews or concerns, the next book is already written - half the time I had already addressed those issues but if it's a real blunder, I try to fix the manuscript before it's printed.

Angie - I love the artwork as well. The Poison Study cover that's up on this thread won the Cover Cafe's best paranormal cover for 2007. I don't get to chose the covers - I may get to see a draft and sometimes I'm asked my opinion on cover concepts, and if I make a logical arguement as to why something doesn't work, they might change it - otherwise, they have final say. Perhaps when I'm as popular as JK or Stephenie, I'll have more power :)

If you'd like to see all my covers from all over the world, go to my site at: http://www.mariavsnyder.com/covergall... and check them out - the German one is...interesting. And the UK covers are my favorite for the Study books.


Selby Pace (Korianne) | 1 comments These are my favorite books!( I promise I'm not just saying that my copy of Poison Study is falling apart from being read so many times). Was it hard once you finished Fire Study to somewhat say goodbye to the characters? Ha, it was hard for me and I'm just a fan!

P.S. You're my favorite author! Just thought I'd let you know! ^-^


Tatiana (tatiana_g) Maria, I know you are now working on a series of sci-fi books ("Inside Out" and "Outside In"). Is it going to be a trilogy too, like "Study" and "Glass"? Do you prefer writing trilogies to stand alone books? Are you planning to go back to the fantasy world of Yelena and Opal in future? What do you personally like to write more - fantasy or science fiction?


message 25: by Maria (last edited Mar 03, 2010 11:22AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Maria V. Snyder (maria_v_snyder) | 20 comments Thanks Selby so nice to be loved :) It wasn't too hard for me to say good-bye as I was working on the Study books for a long time (10 years total) and I was creatively dried out. And it wasn't a real good-bye as many characters from the Study books are in the Glass books.

Tatiana - I'm not sure if the Inside/Outside books will go to three books - I'll have to finish Outside In and see if there's more to the story. I don't think of my books as trilogies - more like a series, but after 3 I need a break - I hope to go back to the Study and Glass books some day. I really don't know how some authors can go so long with their series. I don't prefer one genre over the other - when I get an idea for a story, it tends to decide which genre it'll fall into (sf or fantasy). I have to be excited about the idea or else I won't be able to write.


message 26: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (new) - rated it 5 stars

Angie | 2686 comments Mod
Nehe... this is not the place for spamming. We have an author present in our group participating with our group members and I really don't appreciate you posting about your blog here. Please stop... you have posted it through several threads on the group page where it is inappropriate. I am sorry about this Maria!


message 27: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (new) - rated it 5 stars

Angie | 2686 comments Mod
Maria... I have noticed that you have an on going contest for your books for your fans! This is a fabulous thing to do! http://www.mariavsnyder.com/contests.php

How are you able to give away so many books?


message 28: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (new) - rated it 5 stars

Angie | 2686 comments Mod
I am also curious... do you have to cut anything out of your books in the editing process? Were there any parts of Poison Study you had to leave out because of the length requirements for the book? If so what were the parts you had to leave out?


message 29: by Tatiana (last edited Mar 03, 2010 11:57AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tatiana (tatiana_g) To add to Angie's question about editing process, was "Poison Study" conceived as a first book in a series or as a stand-alone? Did you have to change its ending once you knew you had enough material for the sequel? And if yes, what was the original ending?

Thank you for answering my numerous questions:)


Maria V. Snyder (maria_v_snyder) | 20 comments Angie - The best way to spread the word about books is through word-of-mouth. I started the referral program when my publisher sent me 3 boxes of ARCs for Poison Study and I thought what am I going to do with all these books? Give them away of course :) I've run out of those original copies long ago. Since it's been a very popular program, but not break the bank popular (not yet), I've kept it going and now let my readers choose which book they'd like.

I do cut scenes as I'm working on revisions. Although for Poison Study, since I worked on the novel so long, I didn't keep any of them (so I don't have any examples). I didn't have to edit for length, in fact, my editor wanted me to add details to the story :)

Tatiana - I wrote Poison Study as a stand-alone. At the end, I thought I'd could write another, but I wasn't going to unless PS sold. When my editor called with the good news, she said, "And we want the next book, too. You have another right?" And I was like, "Yeeeaaaahhhhhh....When do you need it by?"

I did have to change the ending of PS once I knew about Magic Study. The original ending didn't have an execution order hanging over her head - she was being exiled, but once I thought about the Commander's black and white views, it made more sense to have the order.


message 31: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (new) - rated it 5 stars

Angie | 2686 comments Mod
Do you have any movies in the works for your books?


message 32: by Alethea (last edited Mar 07, 2010 12:01AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alethea A (frootjoos) | 46 comments Hi everybody! :D I've been busy with school or I would have jumped in long ago. You've got great questions.

I'm only butting in to second Angie's movie question--I think I know the answer but I'll let Maria say it. I just want to say I would *adore* seeing movie versions of these books made, and they better not screw it up! :D

On the Study Buddies group we have a long thread of people "casting" the movie for fun... there's a lot of contention for the part of Valek and I have to say it's hard to have just 1 favorite. They are all kinds of awesome.

My question for Maria is, if you were to go back to the Study books, who do you think you will write about? (You know Jane and I are rooting for Ari & Janco :D hee hee)


message 33: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (new) - rated it 5 stars

Angie | 2686 comments Mod
This is the first time I have been able to say this to the author of a book... but Maria I think Poison Study is a fabulous book! I loved every minute of it! Great Job!


message 34: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (new) - rated it 5 stars

Angie | 2686 comments Mod
I am a little confused about the Commander. Do we find out more about him later? I know Yelena is going to keep his secret but we only read about the part where the Commander vs the snow cat. It would seem to me the Commander is a transgender? Not sure if there was surgery in those days, maybe by magic?


message 35: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (new) - rated it 5 stars

Angie | 2686 comments Mod
Would I be allowed to post the short stories you wrote here on goodreads??? Not sure about how the rights work and I don't want to get sued!!! ;)


Maria V. Snyder (maria_v_snyder) | 20 comments Hello! I'm back from a weekend away - we went skiing in the Pocono Mountains - a small bump in Eastern Pennsylvania :)

Angie - no movie plans yet. My books are making the rounds in Hollywood but no one has expressed any interest. I would love to see my books on the big screen or even the small screen.

Jillian - My process is seat-of-the-pants writing or "pantser" - I get an idea for a story and have a vague idea of how it's going to end and I discover the rest as I write. The authors who outline, we call "plotters" :) As for the best way, it's different for every writer. Some swear by their outlines and others are like me. The best way for you to find out what works for you, is to try them both and see what happens.

It's interesting how writers won't call themselves a writer unless they're published. I think if you write, you're a writer. Period. Since I can't change preceptions, :) I do think budding is a good description and I also like aspiring author :) What I hate is "wanna be" because it sounds derogatory to me.

Alethea - if I go back to the Study books, I'd like to write about the Commander and Valek before the take-over - when they were teens up until they meet Yelena. I don't know if my publisher would want that story, but time will tell :)

Angie - thank you - glad you enjoyed the book. Yes, you find out more about the Commander in Magic and Fire Study (more in Fire Study). In Poison Study the correct term for the Commander would be transgendered. And I've gotten a few emails from transgendered readers with postive comments on how I depicted him - so that was a nice relief as I would hate to upset anyone.

Instead of re-posting the short stories - why don't you provide a link to everyone? Here's the link to all my free short stories on my website: http://www.mariavsnyder.com/shortstor... I have two Study shorts and a few others up there.

I'm also sending out a new short story about Yelena and Valek for my email newsletter subscribers titled ICE STUDY. It's a free bi-monthly newsletter that sends news, my schedule and something fun, like chapters to a new short story :) If anyone is interested in signing up, just follow that link above and use the form on my Short Stories page. Then let me know (email me at maria@mariavsnyder.com) and I'll send you a secret link to the first five chapters of the story.


Brigid ✩ Hi Maria! I read Poison Study a while ago and really liked it :] I have yet to read the other books in the series (my library doesn't seem to have them so I'll have to request them). I loved the premise of the first book, and the characters, and the writing … It was awesome. :)

As for my question … I'm seventeen years old and I'm a writer. I've written six books, and I've made an attempt at publishing one of them … but by now about 50 agents have rejected it and I've decided it needs a lot more revising than I realized. I'm not sure where to go from here and my friends and family have given me mixed advice. Some people are telling me to keep trying and sending queries, some are telling me that I'm just too young while others say my age could be an advantage, and my mom is encouraging me to try self-publishing instead. So, I don't know what to do. I'm definitely not thinking of giving up, but I'm just not sure what route to take. So I'm wondering, how did you get your first book published? Thanks :)


message 38: by Maria (last edited Mar 09, 2010 02:17PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Maria V. Snyder (maria_v_snyder) | 20 comments Brigid - Wow six books and you're only 17! That's impressive :)

As for publishing, I had 40 agents reject Poison Study so I started submitting the book right to the publishers who accepted unagented submissions. So persistence is a good thing!

However, if you feel your novel needs more revising, then revise, revise and revise - each time I revise my novel is stronger. Of course you could get stuck in a loop and never send it out (a flip side to everything).

Young or old - it doesn't matter to the publisher - the novel will speak for itself - if it's a strong story and well written - age doesn't matter. A member of my critique group sold her first novel when she was 15 - to a major publisher. I've heard of another lady who sold her first novel at age 91.

My advice - keep writing, keep submitting, keep revising - if you're getting "good" rejections (which are not the standard form rejects and actually suggest chances/revisions) take them to heart and revise (if you agree with them). And if you want a laugh about rejects - here's my whole rejection story for Poison Study: http://www.mariavsnyder.com/advice/re... (everyone is welcome to go look - when I wrote that I think it was a full moon - it's goofy in places :)

As for self-publishing, if you want to have a career as a writer, then don't do it. Unfortunately self-published books have a bad reputation in the publishing industry from the get go (no matter how wonderfully written - there is that prejudice) and very, very, very rarely sell more than a few dozen copies (yes there are a very, very, very few exceptions - Christopher Paolini being one). Self-publishing is great for those who want to have copies to give to friends and relatives and who are more into writing as a hobby.

You have plenty of time to learn and refine your craft - wait and write and submit and wait and write and submit and repeat as many times as needed. It took me 8 years to finally be published.


Brigid ✩ Thanks so much Maria! :) Haha, I liked your rejection story. :D Well … I sent out tons of queries; two agents requested my manuscript but they both rejected it, and the two rejections basically contradicted each other. They both said the idea was good … but then one said the writing was good but the characters/plot weren't quite strong enough, and the other said that the plot was good but I needed to work on sentence structure and showing instead of telling. So––arrgggh, I'm a bit frustrated with the editing right now, but I'm getting there. lol :D Okay, I will try to avoid self-publishing then … and I should research some publishers, because I've only tried agents so far. Hmmm … Well, I guess I should focus on editing. Plus I entered the Amazon Novel Breakthrough Award contest and made it to the second round, so I should wait and see how that goes too. :] Well, thank you for the advice! I really appreciate it!


Maria V. Snyder (maria_v_snyder) | 20 comments You're welcome Brigid! And editors and agents will contradict each other all the time - this is a very subjective business - everyone likes what they like - that's why it's so important to keep submitting. If you're getting requests for manuscripts, that's a good sign!

And reaching round 2 in Amazon's contest is wonderful - good luck with the contest!


Brigid ✩ Yeah, haha. It's hard. But I'm still trying. :] Well, I'm glad that's a good sign. Yaaay. :D I think I'm going to edit some more before I keep submitting, though.

Thanks! I hear about the next round in about two weeks. (Eeeeek!!!)


message 42: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (last edited Mar 12, 2010 12:11PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Angie | 2686 comments Mod
Personally, I am curious about what authors read. What is that last book you read Maria and what did you think about it?

Also, do you ever do any books tours?


Maria V. Snyder (maria_v_snyder) | 20 comments Angie - I've been reading mostly YA books right now, and I also get ARCs from publishers, hoping for a cover blurb - I'm reading one of those now - Personal Demons by a first time author - so far so good, but I'm only half way through.

I'm also trying to read Shiver, but these ARCs keep coming with short deadlines :) Last book I read was Stray, by Rachel Vincent and I posted a review and comments about the book and had a number of comments on my review (enough it ended up being more of a discussion :) on Goodreads.

I do book signing tours - probably one a year - although I do more local book signings (cheaper as I share travel expenses with my publisher). I was just in London, UK for a 10 day book tour for Sea Glass's UK release in January. And last April I was in Los Angeles, CA and Arizona for Storm Glass. I post my schedule on my website and I also include the info in my newsletter.


message 44: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (new) - rated it 5 stars

Angie | 2686 comments Mod
I am curious about what you are currently working on?


Maria V. Snyder (maria_v_snyder) | 20 comments Right now I'm just starting Outside In, a follow up to Inside Out. In fact, it had been so long since I wrote Inside Out, I just had to re-read my own book and make notes - lol!


Maria V. Snyder (maria_v_snyder) | 20 comments I sold the book to Harlequin back in December 2006! At that time all I had was 7 chapters and a synopsis. I really thought they would pass on the book because it was a YA and they didn't do YA at that time. But they decided they were going to start a teen line and my book was the first one bought for the line.

I submitted it to my editor in January 2008! I did revisions and line edits in 2009. The reason for the delay was the launch of the Teen line - they wanted to have everything in place and then when they launched in August/Sept 2009, I had Sea Glass coming out, so my book was pushed back to April 2010.

It was hard to wait - as Hunger Games became popular and other SF books with similar themes - and the with recycling and reusing being more fashionable...I've been impatient!


message 47: by Annalisa (last edited Mar 16, 2010 12:55PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Annalisa (goodreadsannalisa) Maria,
All my questions about where you came up with your idea and how you write have been answered, but I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed your book. I couldn't put it down. It was well paced and the character development fabulous. I really liked both Valek and Yelena from the get go. I love that you let them take control of the your novel and make it a richer experience. Personally, I think I would have liked your original manuscript without the execution order, but I thought all the plot twists and revelations very well done. It was very creative. You have a great story telling talent, not just one for writing, which is hard to be good at both.


Maria V. Snyder (maria_v_snyder) | 20 comments Thanks for the kind words Annalisa :)

Jillian - Publishing is an interesting business. Some books can be pushed through the system quickly, but most take a year to go from finished draft to published book. My deadline for Outside In is June 1st and the book is tentatively scheduled for a January 2011 release date.


Robyn Hawk (aflyonthewall) | 27 comments Maria V. wrote: "I sold the book to Harlequin back in December 2006! At that time all I had was 7 chapters and a synopsis. I really thought they would pass on the book because it was a YA and they didn't do YA at t..."

I have to say - I just finished Inside Out and your writing continues to impress me - without spoiling the story for readers - the characters are likable and I really love the way the story starts in a monotone and just slowly builds - it totally works - LOVED IT!


Maria V. Snyder (maria_v_snyder) | 20 comments Robyn - I'm happy to hear you enjoyed the book. I've been a little worried as it is a different world from my other books.

Did you read an ARC or the actual book? It's due out soon, but sometimes Amazon ships a week early (which would be about right). Also Harlequin is doing a big blog tour for the book - and I've been answering Q&As and we're having contests and give aways. I've been posting details as they come on my blogs (Goodreads and MySpace).


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