Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Kristi Benedict is talking with Michelle Paula Snyder, author of The Lost Mermaid (A Tale of Three Kingdoms - Volume 2)
FQ: Did you intend this to be a series of three books when you started the first one?
SNYDER: No. I gave book 1, The Lost Unicorn, to a friend who read it and became very excited about where the story could go, and insisted that it become a trilogy. After book 2, The Lost Mermaid, was out, another friend insisted that book 3, The Lost Dragon, be finished as soon as possible.
FQ: What was your reason for writing this from several characters’ point of view instead of just one?
SNYDER: Writing in what is called ‘third person omniscient’ is a great device for once-upon-a-time stories. It was common with storytellers of old to narrate the tale from the point of view of each character. It allows the reader, or listener, to know things the characters do not know, gives deeper insight into the emotions and relationships of the characters, and gives the narrator/author more freedom to develop and express personality of characters even when there is no dialogue.
FQ: Were there places you had traveled that inspired the different landscapes of the unique kingdoms?
SNYDER: International travel has not been a luxury I have had, although I would love to visit Wales. The landscapes and kingdoms in A Tale of Three Kingdoms developed from my research into the symbols and tales of prehistory, and conversations with Dr. Robert Duncan-Enzmann, a colleague and mentor. His expertise in history, archaeology, and geology, as well as his translations of ice age inscriptions recently published were of great benefit in developing the world in which these stories take place. Duncan-Enzmann has traveled the world, and described to me the beauty and variety of many areas of Northern Europe, and how they would have appeared in 'once upon a time'.
FQ: What specific Greek mythology did you use for this book?
SNYDER: Mythology in general is inspirational for stories of once upon a time, as are all tales of oral tradition. I did not draw on a specific Greek mythology for the first three books, although books four and five will reflect much of the tradition of that time and introduce familiar characters from Greek mythology as well as some more obscure.
FQ: With so many fantasy stories that have been written, how do you make yours unique?
SNYDER: That is an interesting question. I could use art as an example – there are innumerable works of great art produced in human history, yet each artist has a unique, identifiable technique, and each culture has a style of art which is identified with them. Authors are the same, each one having a unique rhythm and style of using language, bringing to their characters personality drawn from the author’s life and relationships. Yet human experience is not unique and readers identify with it; archetypal symbols such as heroes and villains and damsels in distress are fundamental motifs, as are love and heartbreak, loyalty and treachery, courage and fear. These factors are arranged and rearranged by storytellers, infused with human emotion, then enhanced with a series of wondrous and magical circumstances which evoke a sense of apprehension and wonder. The result feels unique, and also familiar.
FQ: Were you targeting a specific reader for this series of books?
SNYDER: Hans Christian Anderson believed that if you write stories that will be told or read to children, you must also engage the mind of the adult doing the reading. I thought this was good advice, and the stories I write, although filled with magic and danger, life and death, heroes and villains, are suitable to be read to young children by their parents and at the same time can be enjoyed by the adult. My target audience is not children, but women of all ages who enjoy fantasy and classic fairy tale stories, and people who love to read.
FQ: What is your favorite part of writing a book?
SNYDER: My husband, Jay, always reads the stories to me as we develop the books. He has a gift for what-if scenarios and for the theatrical. It is extraordinary to be absorbed in the stories I am writing as he reads them out loud, as we explore the possibilities of what could be. It is a time of expanded imagination and creativity.
FQ: Which do you find easier, starting a story, or writing the conclusion?
SNYDER: For me, starting the story, although I always revise the beginning over and over; the beginning is what captures the readers’ attention and must be crafted to do so. The beginning of an adventure is laden with possibilities, with what could be, with new things and new beings. The end is more difficult. I don’t want the story to end. It has to leave the reader with a sense of closure and yet a desire to visit the magical world again. The story must convey a sense of hope, of accomplishment, and of loss at the fact that it is over.