Maria V. Snyder‘s fantasy novels Poison Study and Magic Study are available this month in new editions for Young Adults. Here, Maria discusses her books’ journey to YA and the great response from teen readers!
Both books, with all new cover art (see below), came out December 1, and are being marketed to YA readers. In my quest to find and thank the new cover artist, I learned many, many people at Harlequin touch the book before it is released. For example, these four people had a hand in making the new cover art for the books: Photographer Michael Alberstat, Illustrator Alexander Joo, Designer Gigi Lau, and Art Director Margie Miller. I would like to thank them all for putting together another pair of beautiful covers! (See post about the Study Series’ evolving cover art here)
I’m thrilled with MIRA’s decision to reissue them as YAs. When I wrote Poison Study, I had been writing the story for an adult fantasy reader. I worked on the first draft of the book for three years and during that time I mentioned my efforts to my family, friends and in-laws. When I gleefully announced the book was finished, no one asked me if they could read it. I think my family all worried it would be horrible and they would have to find something nice to say about it
Actually, I lied. One person did ask me if she could read it, my niece, Amy. At the time, Amy was 14 years old, but she’s bright and intelligent and loves to read so I thought why not? If she has trouble, she can ask me for help. I gave her a copy on a Friday night and she finished it on Sunday afternoon. She loved it! (Amy is still my favorite niece. Shhhhhh! Don’t tell my other three favorite nieces. After Amy’s feedback – a little light bulb went off in my head that perhaps YAs would enjoy this story.
I had been sending Poison Study to publishers who have adult science fiction/fantasy lines, but I decided to look into “shopping” Poison Study to the young adult publishers. One of the agents I had been talking to said that the age difference between my protagonist, Yelena (19 at the start of Poison Study) and Valek the hero (33 at the start of Poison Study) was too big and teenagers wouldn’t like that. (This proved to be not the best advice, considering how popular the Twilight Series is with Edward and Bella’s age difference of approximately 90 years – he’s a vampire). I thought of changing their ages, but decided to keep sending Poison Study to adult markets.
Well, you know the story – Poison Study was bought by LUNA Books and released as an adult fantasy in October 2005, with Magic Study following the next year in October 2006.
But then, something I wasn’t expecting happened. I began getting reader email from YAs. I had a 9 year old (no lie!) come to one of my signings with her father in tow. My kids, age 9 and 11 at the time wanted to read them. My friend’s kids started reading them after their parents had read them. My one nephew started a reading crazy in his 5th grade class. And Poison Study was nominated for an ALEX Award by the American Library Association, which picks 10 adult books each year that have special appeal to YA readers. It didn’t win the award, but the nomination seems like the ALA gave its seal of approval for YAs to read the book. Amazing.
Now you’re thinking why was I so surprised? Based on Amy’s reaction and your own thoughts, you should have known this would happen? Looking back, of course I should have known. But I had imagined this wall between the adult books and the YA books, keeping the two set of readers apart. If there’s a wall, it’s not working. Adults and young adults cross it all the time. Harry Potter anyone? The Twilight series? I’ve been reading YA books all year so I have something besides school to talk about with my kids.
But I also worried about the appropriateness of some of the scenes for younger readers. Yelena admits she murdered a man, and the reason why is detailed, but not graphic. I think YA readers are savvier than I was at that age. Plus they’re exposed to so much more violence and sex than I was. My kids didn’t even mention those scenes. And avid readers, no matter what the age, tend to be more worldly and intelligent
I always say the best thing about being a published author is connecting with readers. And I must admit, the times I’ve been invited to speak at high schools and middle schools have been a blast. I enjoy interacting with that age group.
With the new YA editions of my books, I am looking forward to having an excellent reason to continue my forays into the schools. It’s inspiring and keeps me young.