Article published on March 1, 2016.
My transition from a meteorologist to a novelist didn’t happen overnight. After graduating from Pennsylvania State University with a BS degree in Meteorology, I was hired at an environmental consulting firm doing air pollution studies. Interesting work, when we had jobs, otherwise, I sat in a cubicle and tried to look productive. It was those times of boredom that I started jotting down story ideas for science fiction short stories. I’ve always loved to read and I’ve always been creative (I’ve danced, acted, and painted) and this was a way to combine those two aspects.
Needless to say those first dozen short stories didn’t sell, but I learned quite a bit about writing and story structure. I also caught the “writing bug” and decided to give it a go. I sparked on an idea for a fantasy novel and began writing that when I was home with my two small children. When I finished, Poison Study, I thought it wasn’t half bad and I decided to try to find a publisher. Two years later, it sold and I switched careers.
One of the things my first editor pointed out about Poison Study was the lack of plot holes and inconsistencies. She’d been impressed that a first time novelist had avoided those beginner mistakes – I believe it was my training as a scientist that helped me. Even though I was dealing with magic and an invented fantasy world, the story events and magic system had to be logical and follow rules.
I’m happy to say that my meteorological and environmental training has helped with my writing. In Storm Glass, I have these magicians who can harvest the energy from storms and bottle it in glass orbs. This energy is then used in factories as a source of fuel. The ultimate clean energy! Plus a powerful storm is turned into a gentle rain. Win – win.
My environmental knowledge of air cleaning systems helped when I wrote Inside Out and Outside In. In those books, the people live inside a giant metal cube. In order to survive, they needed clean air, clean water, power, food, etc… It was fun constructing that world and making it “work.” Recycling, reusing, and repurposing is needed for survival – nothing is wasted in Inside.
I may have changed careers, but no knowledge or experience is ever wasted. Everything I learn or do is fodder for my stories!
Maria V Snyder
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