We are at it again! Kicking off the year with a brand-new campaign: Full Steam Ahead!

While we are not the first to explore the realm of dieselpunk, it is fair to say there isn’t a lot out there. And I can say with full confidence no one else has gone in this direction! Grease Monkeys: The Heart and Soul of Dieselpunk takes a look at the mechanics that keep the tech running and even mod it out beyond its original capabilities, striving for efficiency and peak performance or just keeping things going.

The other two books funding through the campaign are Grimm Machinations – the sequel to Gaslight & Grimm, bringing you even more steampunk faerie tales; and A Cast of Crows, a Poe-inspired steampunk collection created in conjunction with the Tell-Tale Steampunk Festival.

Over the course of the campaign, we will be featuring these spotlights so you can get to know our authors—and the projects—better.

eSpec Books interviews Maria V. Snyder, contributor to Grease Monkeys: The Heart and Soul of Dieselpunk, edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail and John L. French.

eSB: What was your favorite aspect of writing for this collection and why?

MVS: My favorite aspect of writing Under Amber Skies was creating the various gadgets that Zosia’s father invented to help with everyday life. I loved how they became almost characters themselves. The crabs were my favorite and I would love to have an army of them at my disposal—the best possible home security system! Plus, they were a touching reminder of one of Zosia’s fondest memories from her childhood with her father.

eSB: No spoilers, but what was your inspiration for your story and did you introduce any easter eggs for either the dieselpunk aspect or your own body of work?

MVS: The inspiration for this story came from when I visited Poland. I was on a Baltic Sea cruise with my family, and we stopped in Sweden, Finland, Russia, Latvia, and Poland. During the trip we visited a number of amber museums and we also saw the Amber Room in Catherine the Great’s palace (not the original, as the amber panels were stolen by the Nazis and never found). Over 45 millions of years the sap from a vast coniferous forest transformed into amber. It can be found throughout the area. After I learned all this, I knew I needed to write a story about the amber, or as the locals called, it Baltic Electrons.

eSB: Is this your first time writing for a themed anthology? If so, how did you find the experience? If not, what draws you to them?

MVS: This isn’t the first time I’ve written for a themed anthology. I enjoy writing for various anthologies because I view them as a challenge. I don’t write diselpunk, so this gave me an opportunity to explore a new sub-genre to put my toe in the water. It’s always a wonderful experience, and I enjoy having an excuse to go outside my comfort zone.

eSB: What advice would you give aspiring authors considering participating in a themed anthology?

MVS: To go for it! It’s a chance to play in another’s sandbox. It is also an opportunity to take the typical genre conventions and put your own spin on them. For example, I was invited to write for a werewolf-themed anthology. I don’t write about werewolves but thought it might be fun. However, I had a hard time coming up with a unique premise until I sparked on the idea of a homeless young woman who was good at finding lost dogs. She survived on the streets by returning them to their owners and collecting the reward money. Until she found one big dog that didn’t have an owner.

eSB: What other events are you doing this year—dieselpunk or otherwise?

TSOP-ebook-coverMVS: I’m the Keynote Speaker for the Greater Leigh Valley Writers Group’s annual writing conference, The Write Stuff. It’s the weekend of March 23-25 and I’ll also be teaching a number of writing workshops. It’s in Bethlehem, PA.  I’m doing a release party for my new book, The Study of Poisons, on April 15 at Cupboard Maker Books in Enola, PA, from 1-4 pm. I’ll also be at ApollyCon in Washington, DC, the weekend of April 28-30. All my appearances can be found on my website.

eSB: Could you tell us about one of your most amusing experiences promoting your books?

MVS: My publisher sent me on a small book tour when Poison Study was first published. I visited Phoenix, AZ, Seattle, WA, Los Angeles and San Deigo, CA, and Birmingham, AL. Now which one of these cities doesn’t match? Birmingham! I was supposed to go to Denver, but there was a last-minute change, and my publisher wanted me to go to a sales conference in Birmingham. No problem. It was a lovely event. There was a stack of my books to sign and hand out to the sales teams, and a four foot by three foot poster of my book cover and my head shot behind me.

At the end of the conference, I asked about the poster, which was mounted on thick foam board. What were they going to do with it? Throw it away! I asked if I could take it, and they said yes. Fast forward to the airport. I’m carrying this huge poster and, when I get to TSA security, I’m stopped for a special screening. Since my flights had been changed last-minute, it was deemed suspicious. So there I am, holding this poster and being screened, entertaining the large group of people who are staring at me as they wait for their turn through security. I turn to them and say, “I guess my ID isn’t big enough for them.” Everyone laughed, even the TSA agents, who then waved me through with my giant poster. I still have that poster hanging on my wall!

eSB: What are some of your other works readers can look for?

Maria V. Snyder Up to the ChallengeMVS: I’ve twenty-two science fiction and fantasy novels published, which encompasses six different series. I also have a short story collection titled, Up to the Challenge. It has fifteen science fiction and fantasy short stories, and one horror story. Two of the stories are brand new to the collection. You can find a list of all my books plus excerpts on my website.

Maria V. Snyder Poison StudyeSB: What projects of your own do you have coming up?

MVS: My next release is The Study of Poisons. It is a companion novel to my first fantasy novel, Poison Study. My readers have been bugging me for years to write Poison Study from Valek’s POV. I was always too busy, but when FairyLoot decided to release my first Study books as hardcover special editions this May, I thought it would be a good time to write Valek’s story. It was a great deal of fun, but it was also challenging trying to figure out what Valek was up to while not with Yelena. I’m excited for its release. There will be two maps: one of world and another of the castle complex where most of the story takes place. And another surprise.

Maria V SnyderWhen Maria V. Snyder was younger, she aspired to be a storm chaser in the American Midwest so she attended Pennsylvania State University and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Meteorology. Much to her chagrin, forecasting the weather wasn’t in her skill set so she spent a number of years as an environmental meteorologist, which is not exciting…at all. Bored at work and needing a creative outlet, she started writing fantasy and science fiction stories. Twenty-two novels and numerous short stories later, Maria’s learned a thing or three about writing. She’s been on the New York Times bestseller list, won a dozen awards, and has earned her Masters of Arts degree in Writing from Seton Hill University, where she is now a faculty member for their MFA program. 


Maria’s favorite color is red. She loves dogs, but is allergic, instead she has a big black tom cat named…Kitty (apparently naming cats isn’t in her skill set either). Maria also has a husband and two grown children who are an inspiration for her writing when they aren’t being a distraction. Note: She mentions her cat before her family. When she’s not writing, she’s either playing pickleball, traveling, taking pictures, or zonked out on the couch due to all of the above. Being a writer, though is a ton of fun. Where else can you take fencing lessons, learn how to ride a horse, study marital arts, learn how to pick a lock, take glass blowing classes and attend Astronomy Camp and call it research?  Maria will be the first one to tell you it’s not working as a meteorologist. 

Learn more about Maria V. Snyder here:

Website  *  GoodReads  * Amazon Author Page

Follow Maria V. Snyder online:

Facebook  *  Instagram

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