Interview: Theresa Snyder, Author of Shifting in the Realms

SnyderShiftingInTheRealmsEveryone, please welcome Theresa Snyder, author of The Star Traveler series, The Farloft Chronicles, and contributor to the Twin Cities series. I first met Theresa through the Twin Cities series Facebook page which is doing a month long event this February with author specials and free books. Check it out!

Today we chat about Minotaurs, myths, gardening, shape shifters, and so much more! Enjoy!

1) Given the opportunity, what fantastical beast of fiction would you like to encounter in the wild? Which would you avoid at all costs? Would you take a selfie with the beastie?

In The Realms there are all manner of fantastical beings from shape-shifters to vampires and Minotaur to fire demons. I would really lover to meet my character, Cody, the wolf shape-shifter. I would avoid Raven the head vampire at any cost. Selfies? I would love one with Azur, the fire demon, but I know she would outshine me.

2) With the modern popularity to ebooks, a book is no longer limited to a specific genre shelf. It is now quite easy to label place an ebook in multiple genres (i.e. YA, Fantasy, Horror). How do you see this affecting readers? Have you been inadvertently lured outside your reading comfort zone?

I think the Twin Cities Series, in particularly the ‘Shifting’ books could fall into multiple genres. They are paranormal due to setting, but some of the characters are fantasy and there is definitely a bit of romance running through them. I think this type of writing might make it difficult for a reader to find a specific genre book, but I also think it stretches a reader’s focus. They might find they like romance if it is tempered in a fantasy setting. Or they might enjoy paranormal if there is not a lot of violence like some straight paranormal might present to them. I like a mixture of several genres. I find that in Sherilyn Kenyon’s books. I was lured into them thinking they were paranormal and they have a good dose of sexual content which I did not expect, but found it added to the story significantly.

3) In writing your bad guys, do you want the reader to enjoy hating on him/her, or do you want the reader to be waiting for that magical moment when they redeem themselves?

I have been told that I write very gray characters, meaning my bad guys are not ALL bad. I try very hard to put myself in all my character’s shoes and see things from their point of view. None of us are truly horrible all the time. Even a serial killer can be charming. Sometimes my villains redeem themselves, sometimes they do not.

SnyderJames&TheDragon4) In this age of publishing, self-promotion is really necessary for the author. What do you enjoy most about advertising yourself and your works? What do you find most challenging?

I love social media, in particularly Twitter. I enjoy meeting people and making friends. I have had personal encounters with folks I have met on Twitter and they are just as nice in person as on the web. Once again, I wish I had more hours in the day. I hate time zones. I am asleep most of the time that the folks in England are awake. It makes for some challenges to hook up and chat.

5) As a published author, what non-writing/reading activities would you recommend to aspiring authors?

I love gardening. I can daydream my way through a tough spot in a story while I am trimming or nuking weeds. A nice garden also gives you a lovely place to sit and write or read when the mood strikes you.

6) If you could go enjoy a meal in a fictional world, where would that be, and what would you eat?

I would go to The Realms and have a burger from Cody’s food truck. They are supposed to be the best in The Realms, and just think about all the people/paranormal watching you could do while you ate it.

7) Writing in the fantasy genre, how do you take the standard tropes and turn them sideways? Or even upside down?

I like taking the old tales of mythology and tweaking them. If you had a clan of Minotaur what would they be like? In the myth they are violent and eat men, but they are also bullheaded, literally, so what if you educated one? Would he be stubbornly fixated on his work? Since he is large, would he be a body builder? Could the introduction of a lady calm him? Would his interest or skills in other activities help him curve his violent tendencies?

8) What does your Writer’s Den look like? Neat and tidy or creative mess? Can you write anywhere or do you need to be holed up in your author cave?

I have a screened in/glassed in porch on the back of the house done in a Moroccan motif. It is my reading/writing cave. Only soft instrumental music is allowed, no TV. It looks out on the garden and I am inspired by nature around me. It is always neat. I can’t work if something is nagging me to clean it or pick it up.

SnyderTheHelaviteWar9) What were you like as a kid? Did your kid-self see you being a writer?

I was the only girl in a house full of boys. I didn’t go to school until I was almost eight years old due to illnesses, so I spent a lot of my younger life telling myself stories and acting them out in my bedroom a night before bedtime. I have written since I can remember, letters with many pen-pals back in the old days of snail-mail and then journaling and short stories. I wrote my first novel during recesses in middle school. I never thought I would BE a writer. I thought I WAS a writer.

10) If you could sit down and have tea (or a beer) with 5 fictional characters, who would you invite to the table?

Aside from my own stable of character, who I do sit down with on occasion, I would like to meet Smaug from The Hobbit. I am sure there is a side to his story we should know and there is no place better than over a cup of tea to find out a person or creature’s inner feelings. The Velveteen Rabbit, because he has always had a special place in my heart. Frankenstein, because I think he was terribly misunderstood and I could help straighten his life out for him. Stephanie Plum so I could get her tricks and secrets for attracting men when she eats donuts and pizza for almost every meal. And Akron from the Dark Hunters books because he just sounds so yummy.

11) If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in SFF literature, what books would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells

1984 by George Orwell

The Stand by Stephen King

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

12) Do you have any strange writer ticks? Little oddities that come out when you’re working on a difficult passage?

If I ever encounter a passage where I cannot determine how to write it or which way it should go I always ‘sleep on it.’ I take a nap or let my mind work on it overnight. The answer is always there when I awake.

13) Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

I am currently working on the third ‘Shifting’ book in the Twin Cities Series. It will be a bit different and I hope my readers will enjoy the change. I didn’t want to fall into writing a formula series where the hero always saves the heroine, so I have borrowed one of the other author’s in the series character and it will be through his eyes. He will even witness events we have already seen from Cody’s point of view. I am finding it fun to write. I hope my readers find it as much fun to read.

Places to Find Theresa Snyder

Shifted Perspective by J. Bridger

Why I Read It: Simply, it sounded quirky and I had to know how the author would pull this off.

Where I Got It: A review copy from the author (thanks!)

Who I Recommend This To: If you like shape-shifter tales, but are a little tired of the same story outline, check this out and be pleasantly surprised.

Publisher: Self-published

Length: 231 pages

Series: Book 1 Tails of Change

I’m going to let you in on a little secret:

This book is so not me: No sex, little violence, like 3 cuss words, high cuteness factor. And I LOVED every minute of it.

But I am not going to beat myself up over that. No, instead I am going to tell you all why J. Bridger is now on my watch list. If she is this good a writer now, imagine what she can do in the next few years.

Caleb Byrne, 18, lives with his father in a small town. His mother left him when he was young and so it’s just him, his dad, the family dog, and his aspiring journalist girlfriend. Life is already a bit tough at that age, but throw into the mix shape-shifting. Poor dude. One day he finally figures it out. He’s a cocker spaniel. Yep.

But luckily he has some California relatives on his mother’s side who know just what he’s going through. Caleb and his dad go out to sunny CA so that Caleb can learn the ways of the pack and the laws of the shifters. His cousin and aunt are cockers too, while his uncle and male cousins are wolves. There’s a variety of other shifters Caleb has to get used to, including the alpha’s wannabe dominant son. All this change and the world had to throw in some grisly murders that Caleb feels the need to investigate.

This book was a fast-paced, fun read full of humor and wit. I read it in three nights, the last night reading over half the book. I simply didn’t want to put my ‘little cocker’ book down. My man was amused. I simply found it fascinating to watch Caleb deal with this ridiculous situation; what would you do if you found out Senior year you were a shape shifter and that the shape you’re stuck with is a cocker spaniel? I loved how Caleb had to muddle through much of it on his own (that’s what coming of age is) but he still had the support of some caring adults and contemporary friends. Throw in the tension of relationship problems and male dominance pissing contests, and you have some real life scenarios that readers can relate to.

What I Liked: Caleb’s reactions to the various situations were realistic; the tension in the second half of the book is great; the family dog becomes a second parent to the cocker-Caleb; dog show competitions; murder mystery solved but the ending wasn’t expected.

What I Didn’t Like: The murder mystery didn’t rear it’s head until well into the second half of the book.

Check out On Starships & Dragonwings for other great reviews this week.

Hush by James Maxey

Waffles with the laundry and my book.

Why I Read It: Book 1 Greatshadow was excellent, so I had to continue the series.

Where I Got It: As a review copy from the author (thanks!)

Who I Recommend This To: Adventure and Fantasy fans alike would really enjoy this series.

Publisher: Solaris (2012)

Length: 383 pages

Series: Dragon Apocalypse 2

I fell in love with the main character Infidel back in Book 1 by the third chapter. Alas, she is honorably wedded to her ghost companion Stagger, who makes it into the second book. As with Book 1, Book 2 is told through the eyes of tenacious Stagger, who does his best to keep following Infidel around despite his depleting spiritual powers. In this installment, James Maxey gives us a new set of interesting characters and an ever more complicated plot. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.

In Book 1, Infidel swore an oath to return a certain weapon/holy relic that contains a shard of the primal dragon Hush’s broken heart to the ice ogres of the north and this is what Book 2 is about. Infidel once served with the Romer family of the Free Wanderers and she aims to book passage with them to the land of the ice ogres. Before she can leave the island city, she checks in with the Black Swan, who is getting a new body, a metal one. Maxey’s description, through Stagger’s eyes, of the Black Swan’s new spiritual residence had me giggling. Certain shapely bits are important no matter your age, apparently. This is where we meet Sorrow, a witch with one too many holes in her head who is a metal shaper. She shows up throughout the story, being a bit of a shaper of events and also providing some dry humor.

The Romer family once upon a time saved an important mermaid and were granted each a special power by her people. So they make an interesting collection of unusual seawomen and seamen. Cinnamon can give you any bad taste you ever imagined. One son turns into a shark, another swims through air. Gale, the matriarch and captain, controls the winds. Rigger can throw a few lines around you with a stray thought. Overall, they provide plenty of entertainment for the ride to the far north. Oh, and there’s a handsome hunk bedding the captain and his deranged dwarf brother who thinks he’s the long-lost Princess Brightmoon. This little side bit had me snort laughing to my cats.

There’s the set up. In only one place did I think the dialogue lagged a bit (there’s a conflict of dragons in the second half and I thought it was resolved a little too easily), but Maxey rallied for an unexpected ending twice over. This is one of those books that has all sorts of facial expressions crossing my features and the occasional ‘No Way!’ escaping out loud at the flying orca, or shape-shifting witch, or near-death of some beloved character. Truly, I was quite noisy while reading this book. If you are looking for the next excellent fantasy adventure read, pick up this series. I doubt you’d be disappointed.

What I Liked: Infidel is such a kick-ass character; Aurora gets a guest appearance in the second half; Menagerie provides an interesting plot point; Stagger’s sense of humor comes through loud and clear for a dead guy; once again, this book is the perfect mix of humor and seriousness; the cover is excellent.

What I Disliked: A minor point where the dialogue lagged for a page and a half and a certain conflict seemed too easily resolved, but I would not have noticed this if it wasn’t surrounded on all sides by excellent plot, characters, and writing.

Greatshadow by James Maxey


Why I Read It: A good friend recommended it and I really enjoyed Maxey‘s Nobody Gets the Girl.

Where I Got It: From my friend.

Who I Recommend This To: This ain’t your standard fantasy adventure, so if you’re ready for something new, check this out.

Publisher: Solaris (2012)

Length: 416 pages

Series: Dragon Apocalypse 1

This book is in the top 10 of my favorite new reads of the year. I know, I’m being blunt. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I was chewing through 50-100 pages a night and only put it down when I was too fatigued to read any more. This book turned me into a little kid – I didn’t want to sleep, or do the dishes, or get dressed. I simply wanted to read this book.

OK, I’ll set the gushing praise aside for a moment and tell you why I loved this book. First, nearly all the story is told from the view point of a dead guy, Stagger. He and Infidel were ruin hunting in the jungles and came across some pygmies and Stagger bit off more than he could chew. Even Infidel, with her super-human strength and invulnerability, could not keep him breathing. Luckily for the story line, he becomes a ghost that gets to follow her around for the rest of the book. Second, Infidel is a kick-ass 30 year-old woman who is the true heroine of this tale. She is fascinating, flawed, and trying to do the right thing after loosing her best friend of many years.

Third, there are primal dragons who are the embodiment of various facets of nature, such as fire or cold or entropy. This tale involves a dragon hunt of the primal fire dragon Greatshadow who resides on the island that Infidel and Stagger have haunted for some years. Infidel ends up joining the hunt along with the ice ogress Aurora (Reason #4). I could go on about the story line and ruin everything for you, or I could get abstract.

Abstract it is: The Black Swan (Reason #5) and her mysterious abilities set the stage for Infidel to second guess herself, providing the reader that inner character strife that often lacks in dragon fantasies. James Maxey put together such an eclectic crew for the dragon hunt and then not all of them made it through to the end. Luckily, one of my favorite characters Menagerie (Reason #6) makes it through to the end. His power comes from tattoos and blood magic letting him be one of the most powerful shape shifters I have seen in fantasy.

Trust me. This books kicks ass and will have you calling in sick to work and family engagements.

What I Liked: The cover, the primal dragons; Infidel; the philosophy rambles; the mix of serious and humor was perfectly balanced; the characters have histories that are hinted at and revealed in little bits; the ending; Stagger was a real guy with fading hair and a little pot belly.

What I Disliked: The death of some of the unique characters in the first half of the book gave me a little sniffle.

I am participating in a weekly Read & Review Blog Hop hosted by On Starships and Dragonwings. Make sure to check out other great books reviewed by other book bloggers.