As part of the Touch of Power blog tour, I was extremely happy to be able to interview Maria. V. Snyder and find out more about the way she writes.
You new book Touch of Power comes out this month, in your words can you describe the book for my blog readers in one sentence?
Healer Avry is on the run because her world blamed the healers for the deadly plague, but one man and his men believes her powers can save their world and he’s determined to convince
Your main character Avry, has a very rare talent, where she can take on other people’s illnesses and wounds. How did you come up with this idea?
Avry’s healing powers are very similar to Yelena’s ability in my Study series of books. While Yelena’s power is but one of many, Avry can only heal. I really wanted to explore that aspect in more depth. The ability to heal with magic is very appealing to me. As a mother, I hate to see my children sick or injured and always wish I could make it all go away. I also have to give credit to an old Star Trek episode titled The Empath about a race of healers/empaths who would can take on the injury or illness of another. I watched all the Star Trek episodes, but this one always stayed with me.
The covers for you books both from the UK and the US are stunning, do you have any creative control over how the covers are developed?
Nope! The covers are created by the art department and then approved internally by other departments like marketing and sales. I did help with the cover for Inside Out. When I saw the US cover for the first time, the model's gaze wasn't direct – she appeared to be looking over your shoulder. Trella is very direct and I thought she should be staring right at the reader. So they sent me a bunch of pictures of the model and I picked the one on the cover. That's the only time I've had any input. And that's fine with me as I agree all my covers have been rather fabulous!
Touch of Power is the first book in your fourth series. Out of all the series you have written which is your favourite?
Asking a writer which book, character, or series is her favourite is like asking a mother who her favourite child is! I love them all for very different reasons. The Study series because it’s my first, the Glass books because I really enjoyed learning about glass and getting to blow glass and call it work! The Insider books are unique since their dystopian and not fantasy, and my Healer series because it’s the baby of the family.
Being an experienced writer, do you find the process gets easier with each book you write?
It’s easier in some ways as I’ve gotten better at characterisation and keeping track of all the details. However, it’s harder to find new and fresh ways to say, “his heart pounded,” and other clichés. I also have my favourite phrases and they’ll creep into all my books so it’s a struggle to find a better metaphor. Also I don’t want to write the same characters in the same situation with the same pacing and action scenes. I try to create something unique with each book.
What kind of research did you need to carry out before writing Touch of Power?
For this book, most of my research focused on the various plagues and epidemics throughout history. I wanted to learn what happened after these plagues, how the survivors coped with the bodies and grief and with the everyday tasks of life. I also studied up on guerrilla warfare tactics. Small elite forces fighting against a larger army will come into play in the next book, Scent of Magic.
Do you plan each book meticulously before you begin the writing process or do you just take the idea you have and go with the flow?
I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer. I start with an idea that has a vague ending point and I write, discovering the story as I go.
Do you try and aim for a daily word target when writing?
I do. I’d like to write at least 1200-1500 words a day. I don’t always hit that mark. Some days, I can barely get 700, while others I clock in over 2000.
Do you edit as you go along or do you wait until the first draft is finished?
At the start of my writing session, I do light edits of the pages I wrote the night before then write new pages. I like to finish the first draft before doing any major edits. I’ll write down the changes I need to make in a notebook as the story develops and mutates so I don’t forget them.
When is your ideal time to write? Morning, afternoon or evening?
My ideal time is between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. No one calls and no one bothers me at that time - it’s wonderful! I’ve always been a night owl and I finally have a job that suits my biological clock.
Which authors inspired you whilst growing up?
I remember enjoying Dr. Seuss and Leo Lionni when I was little, then I was addicted to the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries then graduated to reading Agatha Christie, Ed McBain, Dick Francis, and Robert B. Parker. My brother-in-law introduced me to science fiction and fantasy when I was in secondary school and I loved Ursula K. LeGuin, Piers Anthony, David Eddings, and Marion Zimmer Bradley.
From a pure income and fame point of view, the obvious answer is Harry Potter. However, I’m very proud of all my books and I haven’t read any other that I’d wished I’d written. While I love certain books, they just aren’t...me.
Are there any plans for you to come to the UK for a book signing this year?
Probably not this year. But there has been some initial talk of another UK tour.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on Scent of Magic. It’s the second book of the Healers series and it’s due out at around the end of 2012/early 2013.
What advice would you give unpublished authors?
Persistence is the best advice. I’d been writing for ten years and submitting for eight before I sold anything. Learn the craft of writing as well as the business of writing and attend writer’s conferences and classes if you can. Consider that time an apprenticeship. Be wary of predators, if someone is asking you for money it's a bad sign! Get feedback on your stories from fellow writers before submitting. Joining a critique group is very helpful. I also find that if I let a story sit on my desk for a few weeks I can pick out all the problems, typos and inconsistencies easier. And I agree whole heartily with Stephen King’s advice in his book, On Writing. He wrote, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” And don’t give up! Ever!
I have writing articles on my website for anyone who’s interested in learning more. Here’s the link:http://www.mariavsnyder.com/advice.php
Maria has written a special blog for the first day of the blog tour which is on the Touch Of Power website -http://www.touchofpowerbooks.com/exclusives.html -it seems she’s as excited about the blog tour as we are!
**********Create a video review of A Touch of Power and be in with a chance of winning an iPad!
Maria V. Snyder has teamed up with top teen mag Mizz to give you the chance to win an iPad and be the official book review for MizzMag TV to boot! All you need to do to enter is make a video review of A Touch of Power. MIRA Ink is giving away free review copies to the first 50 people who get in touch, so visit facebook/MIRAInk for more details on how to get involved! Also, check out Mizz Mag TV at www.youtube.com/user/MizzMagTV for an exclusive video of Maria talking about her new Healer series!
What are you waiting for???