Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

Reading the text: Maria V. Snyder

Posted by Randolph Carter on July 27, 2009

storm glassAuthor website:

Could you take a minute and explain what Storm Glass is about?

Storm Glass is about Opal Cowan. She is a glass magician and her special magic played a vital part in my third book, Fire Study. Now it is five years later and she has completed four years of instruction at the Magician’s Keep with one year left. Even after four years at the Keep, she still feels as if she’s a One-Trick Wonder and doesn’t have any other useful magic. But the Master Magicians feel otherwise and send her on a mission to find out what’s wrong with the Stormdancer’s glass orbs. The orbs are shattering, killing Stormdancers. If they don’t discover why the orbs are failing, the Stormdancers won’t be able to calm the powerful storms battering the coast. This mission launches Opal into new territory where she discovers a hidden depth to her glass magic.

Are you or have you ever been a gamer? What has your gaming experience been like (board games, pen & paper RPGs, console & computer games, etc.)?

I’ve never been a serious gamer. I always enjoyed playing board games, dominoes, and cards. Now I know I’m dating myself, but I remember when Pong was new and I begged my parents to buy me the new Atari video game for our TV. I loved Space Invaders, Asteroids and Defender the best. More recently, the computer game 3D Pinball has been a distraction.

Have you ever ventured into online worlds? If so, please explain what that experience has been like.

No, I haven’t gone to the online worlds. As a writer and a mother, my time is limited and I’m worried I would be sucked in and miss my deadlines.

Do you then happen to know anyone who plays massively multiplayer online games?

Yes. My husband, son and daughter all play on World of Warcraft. My 14-year old son spends the most time online. His characters are all at level 80, while my daughter’s single character is only at 28.

As a parent who doesn’t play MMOs, how do you view your family’s involvement with World of Warcraft?

I’m happy that my children and husband have something in common and they’re frequently talk about quests and guilds and killing monsters. Sometimes the game will dominate a dinner time conversation and I’ll be bored.

Are there limits ever set on the amount of time your son can play WoW?

He doesn’t have a time limit per say. He needs to meet certain requirements in order to play. During the school year, his grades must be a B or higher, he needs to finish his homework first and to have some type of physical activity each day. In the summer, instead of homework, he has to read for 30 minutes and make sure his chores are done in addition to the other requirements.

Do you ever watch them play?

I do. My kids like to show me their pets, weapons and mounts. I’ll watch a few battles and talk to them about the game.

Going back a bit, what was the process like in getting your first book published?

Poison Study (PS) was my first novel written and published. Once I finished writing the book, it took me two years to find a home for it. I submitted it to literary agents first. Collected a stack of about 40 rejections. Then I submitted PS to the major fantasy publishers like Bantam, Tor, Roc, Ace etc… rejections rolled in. Targeted small presses to earn more rejects – 17 and counting. I keep submitting PS to markets and the 18th submission was to LUNA Books – a new (at the time) fantasy imprint of Harlequin. I felt it was a long shot. I did have the strong female protagonist they were looking for, but I wasn’t sure about the romantic sub-plots. But I was determined to get rejects from every possible publisher before I put the book away for good. Four months later, LUNA calls and offers me a two-book contract for Poison and Magic Study (not written at that point). My persistence paid had off 🙂

Were you a big reader as a child/young adult? What were some of your favorite books and/or authors growing up?

I loved to read throughout my childhood and still do. I owned only a few books when I was younger. My favorites were Leo Lionni’s Frederick and Swimmy. As a young adult, I read a ton of mystery novels because that is what my mother enjoyed. Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys were my favorites before I graduated to Agatha Cristie, Dick Francis, Robert B. Parker, Barbara Vine, and Ed McBain.

Grind is a term used frequently in gaming vernacular referring to something that is rather repetitive or unpleasant that one engages in in order to progress in the game. Would you say there is grinding in the writing process? Please explain.

sea glass 2The writing process is very creative and, while there are difficult aspects and parts I don’t particularly enjoy, I would never say it’s repetitive or boring. Description of setting details is not my favorite aspect of writing. I get impatient having to describe a person or place when I want to write action and dialogue.

By contrast, what would you say is one of the most rewarding things about being a writer?

Getting emails from readers has been a wonderful aspect of being a published writer. They share how much they enjoyed my books and sometimes how the books have inspired them to write or to take a kickboxing class or to study martial arts. I find these little jewels in my Inbox on a daily basis.

On average, how much time would you say you spend a week writing?

Ideally, I aimed to spend at least 25 hours a week writing, realistically it’s closer to 15-20. During deadline crunch time, it can be 30 to 40 hours per week.

Would you have any words of advice for the would-be-writers out there?

Persistence is my biggest advice. I’d been writing for ten years and submitting for eight before I sold anything. I also tell writers to be wary of predators, if someone is asking you for money proceed with the utmost caution. 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 enjoy helping other writers, and I think it’s very important to share what I have learned. I have a whole bunch of writing advice and tips on my website.

You wake up to a world where your Study trilogy has been made into an MMO. What class would you play and why?

Assassin, because they have all the fun 😉

Is there anything else you’d like to share with this gamer/reader audience?

If you think my books sound interesting, I would suggest you start with Poison Study and go from there. Even though Storm Glass is a new series and has a new main character, to fully enjoy the world you’d want to start at the beginning 🙂

You can read the first chapter of all my books on my website.  I also have some FREE short stories you can read there as well.

Thanks so much for inviting me on your site!

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