When I moved to Elizabethtown a few years ago and joined the library, I picked-up a copy of their newsletter. Inside was an article about a local author who was releasing her 2nd book. It turned out that she wrote fantasy fiction (my favorite!) so I decided to check her out. I really enjoyed each of her books in her Study Series and now she is releasing the first book in her Glass series, Storm Glass. It will be released on April 28th and in honor of that I’ve asked her for an interview here on Hammermarks. “But Wendy,” you ask, “what does fantasy fiction have to do with metalsmithing?” Good question. OK, it doesn’t. But the protagonist in this series is a glass artisan and, well, just read the interview. It will make more sense then. Oh yeah, and don’t I always talk about supporting your local community?
How did you decide to make an artisan the main character in your new series of books?
Actually, it was my editor’s idea. After Fire Study, I wanted to write a different book – one not in the Study world. My editor 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 and was literally in mid-sentence 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.
You take the time to actually learn how to do the things some of your characters in your books do. You’ve learned food tasting, horseback riding, glassblowing, and have a brown belt in Issinryu Karate. What’s next on your research to do list?
I’m not sure 🙂 I don’t plan my stories in advance. I do have a general idea for a book and will write a synopsis for my editor to approve – but the finished book usually doesn’t match the synopsis at all (at least, not yet). So as I write, I’ll come to a place where I need more information. I’ll put a note in brackets to do research in my manuscript and keep on writing. I do prefer hands-on as it’s the best way to learn and helps so much in translating that experience for my readers. Although sometimes a book or the internet will work for research- especially when researching bats, snakes and spiders! And many times a non-fiction book written for kids is the best source of information for me. The big colored pictures are ideal when trying to describe something to my readers.
What did you like best about learning glassblowing? Have you continued to take classes or do you consult with an artist when you have questions while writing your books?
Glass is an amazing medium. The best aspect of learning was the limitless possibilities – molten glass can be shaped into anything. Also being able to re-use glass over and over appeals to my save-the-environment lifestyle. I have taken more glass classes and have learned to fuse glass, to make stained glass, and to make glass beads. If I have any questions, I will email my first teacher, Helen Teleger. She is very giving with her time and knowledge.
Your character, Opal, can infuse her magic into the glass art she creates. As an artist, I have always felt that creating is 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.
In the Study series, politics played a fairly big role in the plot lines. Will there be as much intrigue in the Glass series?
Since the Glass series is set in the same world as my Study series, the political intrigue will have a role in the new series. The magicians are linked with the government and Opal is a critical part of their network. This relationship will be explored more in Sea Glass – the second book of the series, which is due out in September of 2009.
Finally a question I like to include in my interviews. Do you collect any fine art or fine craft, and if so, which is your favorite piece and why?
I’m more of a book collector 🙂 However, I’ve been picking up a few pieces of Murano glass, which is made in Venice, Italy. My favorite piece right now is a beautiful candy dish I bought when I was in Rome last November. It has a stem made with orange glass – very unique and eye catching. I also collect souvenirs from the places I’ve traveled. I try and find something different that appeals to me so when I’m home and see the piece, I can remember my trip.
To find out more info on Maria V. Snyder check out her website and her myspace page. Want to meet her? Check out her appearances listing. I’m going to either her Etown Library booksigning on May 12th, the Lancaster Borders signing on May 2nd, or the B & N Lancaster signing on the 8th. Probably the Etown one though. Oh yeah, and BUY HER BOOK!