After discovering the wonderful author that is Maria V Snyder a few years ago and devouring her books wholeheartedly, you can guess that I was super excited to hear that Shadow Study was an actual real thing. That excitement turned to pure joy when I read an ARC of it a few weeks back. Now I'm even more excited to say I'm participating in the UK blog tour of Shadow Study to celebrate it's release and have a wonderful guest post from Maria herself for you today. She explains what influenced and inspired her when she first created the magical worlds that feature in her books. World-building completely makes or breaks a book for me especially when it comes to fantasy books. So it's such fun to get an insight into the inspiration that the author drew upon to create her absolutely fantastic worlds.
So without further ado, I give you Maria V Snyder!
I was reading Orson Scott Card’s book, How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy. In chapter 3, Card tells the writer to consider some questions before choosing the main character. He wrote, “Too often—particularly in medieval fantasy—writers think their story must be about rulers. Kings and queens, dukes and duchesses—they can be extravagantly powerful, yes, but too often they aren’t free at all. If you understand the workings of power in human societies, you’ll know that the greatest freedom is to act in unpredictable ways is usually found away from the centres of power.”
This comment led me to think about a person who was close enough to the centre of power to witness important events, yet not be the Prince or Princess. I thought about a food taster and a scene jumped into my mind. A woman tasted food that was most likely poisoned and the point of view character was the King. He watched her with heartbreaking horror because he had fallen in love with her, but protocol demanded that she taste his food. That led me to wonder about this woman. Who was she? Why was she there? Why would a King fall in love with her? And Poison Study was born. The fact I thought about a food taster wasn’t that random. My husband works for Mars Chocolate (they make Dove™, Snickers™, M&Ms™, etc…) and a part of his job is tasting chocolate. So I heard quite a bit about tasting methods, spices, flavors, mouth feel, etc… over the years. It must have all nested in my subconscious so when I needed an interesting character out popped a food taster! :)
I originally thought I’d have a monarch for my fantasy novel, but there are so many books with monarchs, that I wanted something different. I sparked on a military dictatorship. Where this military dictatorship came from is easy to trace. I can link Ixia back to my 12 years in Catholic school. I wore a uniform to school every day and loved it. It made my life so much easier in the mornings.
Many aspects of my life can be found in my books. My parents took me on a tour of a glass factory when I was 12 years-old and glass has become a huge part of the Glass books. I took gymnastic classes and loved to climb trees.
Since I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer, all types of things will bubble up from my subconscious while I’m writing. It’s fun and I embrace what comes my way. However, I do plan a few things out and will do research for the things I haven’t experienced. For example, I learned how to ride a horse. Since I grew up in a city, I’d never been around horses and I needed first-hand information. If possible, I do as much hands-on research as I can.
Another factor while I was writing the Chronicles of Ixia, was being a member of a writing critique group. My fellow writers helped me improve the story and my writing. I also attended Seton Hill University’s Masters Program in writing at the time, and my experience there was fabulous. The teachers and students not only provided priceless feedback, but they inspired and motivated me.
I guess if I boil it down to one word, life influenced and inspired me while working on the books. And I hope it continues to do so! I’m certainly going to continue to keep an open mind and experience as much of life as possible!
Big thanks goes to Maria for providing such an interesting post! I adore her Study and Healer series so getting that little bit of insight has been great. Also check out my review of Shadow Study. It was amazing!
Thanks Mira Ink for allowing my blog to feature in the Shadow Study blog tour!