Maria V. Snyder on Spy Glass and more!

Maria V. Snyder is the New York Times Bestselling author of the Study series (Poison Study, Magic Study, Fire Study) and Glass series (Storm Glass, Sea Glass). Maria’s latest book, Spy Glass, come out this week and is the final book of the Glass trilogy. Thanks again to Maria for coming to the Bookyurt!

Byrt: I just finished Spy Glass and wow that ending took me by surprise – did you always have a master plan for the Glass series or did the story surprise you along the way?

Maria: The story surprised me along the way. I don’t master plan any of my books – they’re more organic and grow from seeds of ideas :)

Byrt: How did the evolution of Devlen’s character come about – did you know from the beginning he was going to be more than just a villain or did he grow on you?

Maria: Devlen is like all of my characters – they start out as stereotypes and then decide who they really are as I write the book. Many of my characters just won’t go where I’m thinking and those are the ones that my readers seem to really connect with.

Byrt: Was it hard to write Opal when she feels so much doubt and guilt? Did you ever have to resist the urge to let her off the hook?

Maria: Opal is hard on herself and, as I said in my other answers, the characters guide the way. She isn’t the type to make a decision lightly and she’s sensitive. I think by SPY GLASS her guilt is easing and there isn’t as much doubt. I tried to encourage her to be more assertive.

Byrt: As someone who loves martial arts, I really enjoy how you include sweat and training in your books. Do you practice martial arts? Or love Kung Fu movies? Are you secretly trying to make all your readers want to learn how to fight? *grin*

Maria: My favorite reader emails are when a young teen or young woman tells me she signed up for a kickboxing or karate class :). I studied Issinryu Karate for a number of years, earning a brown belt (one shy of black). I’m a big believer in making my characters sweat – to make them learn how to fight and defend themselves. It’s not a gift or a superpower – it comes from hard work and endless repetition. And I hope my readers see that anyone can take karate and with practice, they can be confident in their abilities.

Byrt: How did switchblades become your fictional weapon of choice?

Maria: I have to give credit to my karate teacher. He collected switchblades and knives and loved teaching us knife defense (with wooden knives to start). He also liked to “jump” me in the parking lot to test my reflexes and ability to keep a cool head. So I probably know more about knives and daggers than the average writer.

Byrt: Were you ever worried about the creepy factor in how Devlen evolves in Opal’s personal life? That some people might interpret it the wrong way, as a message about excusing and forgiving abuse?

Maria: I did worry about his character arc being misinterpreted. But there’s not a lot I can do about it, except to explain his change is due to his recovery from being an addict. That the addiction fueled his actions and not his innate personality. I remember when I was in High School and we had an assembly of young adults who had taken drugs and drank and who had “cleaned up.” They had done horrible things while under the influence, but were all trying to atone for them. Their stories stayed with me all these years later.

Byrt: Would you have forgiven Devlen, if you were in Opal’s place? I don’t think I could have – I just keep thinking about what Devlen did to Opal as a child, and how betrayed I would have felt by the events towards the end of first book (dodging the spoiler).

Maria: I haven’t ever been in that situation, so I can’t really say for sure. But, I’m not one to hold a grudge and I think if there is a genuine desire to atone for past actions plus the absence of the blood magic/addiction, I’d be able to forgive him.

Byrt: On the blogs I’ve seen some heated controversy over the end of Spy Glass. Is there anything you want to say to the people who don’t agree with or accept Opal’s choices? Or do the books say it all?

Maria: Heated controversy is always good news for an author! It means I’ve touched on a topic that makes my readers want to talk about and discuss. I explained how I see things in my answer (above) and I think the book shows how Opal arrives at her choice.

Byrt: You mentioned on your blog that Spy Glass was difficult for you to write – was it because you struggled with Opal’s choices? Or was it something else?

Maria: I struggled with her choices and also with how to show her character arc. She’s basically starting over, returning to being a One Trick Wonder yet she has grown up – sort of like graduating college and thinking, “Now what?” It was that “now what” that was difficult to figure out.

Byrt: Will there be more stories with Yelena and/or Opal? Or will you feature another character in the same world? (Reema, perhaps? Or Zitora’s search for her sister?)

Maria: There are characters from the Study and Glass books that I would love to expand on and see what happens to them. Reema and Teegan or Fisk or Heli (the young Stormdancer) or Quinn. I would also like to write another Yelena and Valek story – I am writing a short story about them for my free email newsletter subscribers right now. I’m also thinking about expanding that story and flashing back to Valek’s past when he meets the Commander and assassinates the King of Ixia. But for right now, I need a break and a new creative challenge to keep my writing fresh. I do intend to go back to Ixia and Sitia in the future.

Byrt: What other projects are on your horizon? Outside In comes out in March, can you tease a little bit about what’s next for Trella?

Maria: OUTSIDE IN picks up about 12 weeks after the end of INSIDE OUT. The world of Inside has been turned…er…upside down ;> and there are many changes and problems involved with the aftermath. Trella feels she has done her part and can now relax and explore, but soon events drag her back into the thick of things. After OUTSIDE IN, I’m going to work on a new fantasy novel set in a world that is recovering from a deadly plague. Her world has blamed the plague on the healers and has hunted them down. She is finally caught only to be rescued by a group who wants her to heal their Prince. The group’s leader, Kerrick, knows the healers aren’t to blame for the plague and that she could do some good for a change instead of hiding. Unfortunately, she believes this Prince is the one who started the plague as an attempt at biological warfare so she isn’t risking her life for some pampered Prince. As they travel to the Prince’s hidden location, they’re pursued by others who have realized having a healer around might just be a good thing for them, but not necessarily for her.

Byrt: (Rubs hands together in gleeful anticipation.) What is your favorite thing to do when you get stuck or frustrated during a writing day?

Maria: Take a walk. Sometimes just getting out of my office and the house is enough to ease my frustration. Other times, I can mull over my characters and plot as I walk.

Byrt: What are you reading right now? Have you read anything recently you’d recommend?

Maria: I’ve been reading a bunch of Steampunk stories for both YAs and adults. I’m currently reading Boneshaker, by Cherie Priest and listening to Soulless, by Gail Carriger. I’m only half way through each, but I would recommend them both! I also enjoyed Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld.

(Byrt note: We loved Leviathan and Soulless – our reviews are here and here.)

Byrt: Thanks again for joining us today, Maria!

Maria: Thanks for inviting me on to your blog! If any of your readers are interested in reading the first chapter of all my books, they can go to my website and read them (HERE).

(Byrt note: You absolutely should!)