Thursday, April 8, 2010

Interview: Maria Snyder, Author of INSIDE OUT

We continue our INSIDE OUT week with an interview with the author, Maria Snyder herself!

We can all read about your bio from the back of your book or your FAQ online. So, what's a completely random fact about you that most people don't know?
 I'm competitive when I play volleyball. I use to be really laid back and just played to have fun and be with my friends. But now if I'm playing in a league, I want to win!

As a child, what was your favorite book? Have your tastes changed since growing up?
Back when I was reading picture books, I loved Frederick by Leo Lionni. When I was older, I read a ton of mystery novels since my mother enjoyed mysteries. I started with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, and moved on to Agatha Christie, Dick Francis, Robert B. Parker and Ed McBain. It wasn't until my senior year of high school that I started reading science fiction and fantasy. That was when my sister met her future husband and he got me hooked :) I still enjoy a good mystery, but I think the biggest change in my reading habits is I'm more open to a wide variety of genres as well as nonfiction.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A dancer and actress :)

How much of you is in your book? Is there a character like you? Is a situation in the book derived from real life?
I always say that everything I do, everyone I meet, and my entire life experiences are all fodder for my imagination. I enjoy doing hands-on research because it lets me translate an experience into words for my readers. So to answer your question, everything in my books is filtered through me, so there is a part of me in each character and situation. For example, I'm not a psychopath, but I can imagine myself as one (this is where those acting lessons I took come in handy) and I'll try to see the world through his eyes.

What was your timeline for the book? How long did it take to write, revise, submit, and finally, get published? How did you feel at these stages?
I'll start with Poison Study because it was the first book :) It took me a good 3 and a half years to write Poison Study (by the end I was so sick of the story, I thought it was utter crap!) and another 2 years to revise it to a point where I was satisfied enough to send it out to publishers (still wasn't 100% happy, but at that point, I didn't care and just wanted to send it out!). The submission process took another 2 and a half years (almost gave up a couple times, but I had made a list of 20 publishers to send it to and I was determined to finish the list). I found a publisher (Yes! Best phone call ever!) and then another 2 years before the book was actually in the bookstore (longest pregnancy ever!). 10 years total. However, Magic Study took 18 months to write and revise and another 6 months to hit the shelves. Fire Study one year to write/revise. Deadlines were a factor and being able to write full-time as a writer instead of doing it as a hobby. To read the whole rejection/submission process I went through, go to my website  and have a laugh or two :)

[Beth interjects to say: holy cow! Ten years total for POISON STUDY to come out. WOW!!!!]

If your reader could only take away one emotion, theme, or idea from the book, what would you want that to be?
Never give up hope. That there is always a solution to a problem and if you keep trying and working and don't give in, you'll find it.

What are your goals as an author? Where do you want to see yourself as a writer in 5, 10, 15 years?
I've already reach a number of my goals, like hitting the New York Times Bestseller list. But I would like to stay on the list longer than two weeks :) I would also love to win a RITA award (it's given by the Romance Writer's of America), and an Andre Norton award (for a YA science fiction or Fantasy from SFWA). I hope in the future, I'll still be writing and traveling around to do book signings and events. I hope I'm not jaded and still enjoy creating stories and meeting readers.

What's the most surprising thing you've learned since becoming a writer?
How many people within my publisher who touch on my book before it's printed and released. Besides my editor and copy editor, there are the art department, marketing, public relations, sales force, and digital team. It's a vast army of people who work very hard behind the scenes to put the book together.

Beyond the typical—never give up, believe in yourself—what would be the single best advice you'd like to give to an aspiring author?
Watch out for sharks! If a publisher or agent is asking you for money to publish your book, run away! They should pay you for your story not the other way around. There are a ton of con artists out there, looking for writers to swindle. Check references and also check these two excellent sites for publishers and agents to avoid: Writer's Beware, and Predators and Editors.

What do you consider to be your strongest talent in writing? Your weakest?
Strongest: Characterization. Weakest: Grammar.
What's a writing pet peeve that you have?
Passive voice! I always hate to read it in books (including my own!) - all those "was crying" or "was standing" or "was running" - it's "cried" and "stood" and "ran." Drives me crazy!

Thank you, Maria,  for doing the interview with us!!


Myrna Foster said...

Thanks for the interview. I love that it took her 10 years to get Poison Study published, but then it went faster for the others. That's the sort of thing that gives us hope.

Christina Farley said...

Interesting questions. I was also surprised by the 10 years but I can see that happening if you don't have time to work on your novel 100% of the time. I really struggle with finding time and energy to write with kids and a job so I was encouraged by what you had to say Maria.

Unknown said...

Great interview! When I went back through my then first draft, I had a ton of passive verbs and it took forever to change them all -- glad to know I'm not the only one. :)

Marcia said...

Great interview. I have to say the 10 years doesn't surprise me at ALL. By the time you write, revise, do the rounds of submissions, sign a contract, and then wait for publication--oh yeah. And sequels go faster because of the deadlines. The interview is great encouragement for writers to keep at it!

Bish Denham said...

Interesting and informative interview. Thanks! Ten years doesn't surprise me.

Unknown said...

Wow ten years! But then again, most writers' first books never make it to the bookshelves, so that's not really all that bad.

Great interview!

Theresa Milstein said...

This is an inspirational story - ten years devoted to one book. I've written several. As soon as I get a slew of rejections from the query process, after some changes, if it still doesn't happen, I move on to the next piece. Maybe I should take a lesson from this.

Two weeks on the NYT bestseller list - congratulations! I hope it keep getting better.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great interview. It gives me hope Maria that you stuck with your first novel for so long because I'm still in that part of the process. I'm hoping I can follow your example and move quicker through future manuscripts. Thanks for the advice.

Sherrie Petersen said...

Great interview! I love hearing from people who worked hard at this for years but never gave up until they made it. Thanks for sharing Maria's story!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Wow. Ten years?! What a wonderful lesson on the importance of perseverance. Great interview, ladies. :-)

L.T. Elliot said...

What a great interview! I was surprised about the army behind a book too (watching a friend go through it. Not me, yet!) but it really makes me appreciate it the process more.

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