New York Times bestselling author Maria V. Snyder wowed readers with Poison Study, the unforgettable story of poison taster Yelena. Now she's back with a new tale of intrigue...
Oddly enough, when Yelena was a poison taster, her life was simpler. But she'd survived to become a vital part of the balance of power between rival countries Ixia and Sitia. Now she uses her magic to keep the peace in both lands " and protect her relationship with Valek.
Suddenly, though, they are beset on all sides by those vying for power through politics and intrigue. Valek's job " and his life " are in danger. As Yelena tries to uncover the scope of these plots, she faces a new challenge: her magic is blocked.
She must keep that a secret " or her enemies will discover just how vulnerable she really is " while searching for who or what is responsible for neutralising her powers.
Yes, the days of tasting poisons were much simpler. And certainly not as dangerous…
Maria V. Snyder has been writing since 1995 and has published numerous articles in magazines and newspapers.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, Maria dreamed of chasing tornados and even earned a Bachelor's of Science degree in Meteorology from Pennsylvania State University.
Writing, proved to be more enjoyable than meteorology and Maria returned to school to earn a Master of Arts degree in fiction writing from Seton Hill University. Unable to part company with Seton Hill and its wonderful writing program, Maria is currently a teacher and mentor for the MFA program. She lives with her family in Pennsylvania.
Author: Maria V. Snyder
Question: How did you come up with the idea for Shadow Study?
Maria V. Snyder: My readers have been asking (begging) me about writing another Study/Soulfinder book for years, but I just didn't have an idea that could be expanded into a novel. I wrote a couple short stories based on the characters and world that were fun and for those I had to dig into Valek's background, which was interesting. I thought about writing a prequel Study/Soulfinder book that's all about Valek and the Commander, but there wouldn't be any romantic elements because I couldn't have Valek fall in love with anyone other than Yelena (my readers would kill me!). But then I thought I could have another assassin challenge Valek and, as he dealt with this potential usurper, he could remember back when he was a cocky young assassin so in Shadow Study, there are a series of flashbacks to when Valek first started training to be an assassin and how he met the Commander and how he assassinated the King of Ixia. I also have chapters from Yelena's POV and someone has blocked her magic. Her powers were very strong and it was hard to come up with a story where she could be in big trouble, but without her powers, well....she's in very big trouble!
Question: Was Shadow Study planned right at the beginning of the Soulfinders series?
Maria V. Snyder: No. The only book I had planned to write was Poison Study. In my mind, that was a stand alone novel, but once finished, I knew I could write another, and, well, it just snowballed from there!
Question: Are the characters based on anyone you know?
Maria V. Snyder: My husband likes to tell people that I based Valek on him (they both have black hair and blue eyes ;). Actually, I used parts of people that I know for some characters. Most are completely fictional, while others, like Rand the cook and Margg have a few personality traits from people I know or have met. I will admit that Opal's parents in the Glass books are based on my parents (except Opal's mom is a much better cook. Shhh! Don't tell my Mom!).
Question: How much of your inspiration comes from real life and real people?
Maria V. Snyder: I always say life is fodder for my imagination. Everything I do and all the people I meet are all potential sources. I do as much hands-on research as possible to get the details and description right, and to spark more ideas. I took a glass-blowing class to learn about making glass for my book Fire Study, but it was so fascinating and complex that I sparked on the idea for Opal being a glass magician and wrote the 3 Glass books about her. Of course I had to sign up for more glass classes. :)
Question: There are several issues raised in this book. Was this deliberate or did the story evolve this way?
Maria V. Snyder: I'm what's known as a "pantser" - which means I write "by-the-seat-of-my-pants" and don't plot/outline my stories in advance (a.k.a. "plotter"). Because of that, I hardly ever do things deliberately. In the beginning, I know what the story will be about and where I want to end up, but the story evolves and changes as I write each night. I concentrate on the characters and their choices and their personalities and then throw obstacles in their paths - how they deal with each problem shows the reader who they are and what they think is important. I really don't see the "issues" or "themes" until I take a break from the book, then when I return a couple weeks later, they pop out at me. Sometimes I will revise with those in mind, strengthening it.
Interview by Brooke Hunter