Seton Hill Master’s in Writing Popular Fiction instructor and alum Maria V. Snyder is set to visit campus for a meet the author event on Nov. 19 from 4 to 5:30p.m. This event is preceded by a book club event a week prior where students and faculty will meet to discuss Snyder’s New York Times Bestselling novel, “Poison Study.”
The book club will take place from 6-8p.m. on Nov. 10 in the faculty dining room on campus. Attendees should read the novel prior to arrival at the event. Pizza will be provided and those interested can email Jessica Mann at firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
The book club, along with the meet the author event, was arranged by Nicole Peeler, Director of the Writing Popular Fiction Program, and Jessica Mann, Assistant Dean of Student Engagement.
Peeler and Mann have had this idea in the works for several months before it became a reality. “I had a great meeting with Jess about the Summer Reading program, and we really clicked, especially on the topic of reading,” said Peeler.
“It seemed obvious we should work together to create something involving books for our students.” Peeler and Mann hope to make the book club a once a semester event.
The two thought Snyder to be a good choice for the first author since she is a graduate of the MFA Program and also a teacher in it currently. “That shows students what they can do with their Seton Hill degrees,” said Peeler.
Above all, the event is meant to be a good time and bring together people who enjoy reading and talking about books. “This is really a book club, not an academic discussion. We want people to enjoy the book and the events,” said Peeler.
Attendance at one event is not necessary to attend the other. “We tried to make them slightly different days and times so people could go to one if they couldn’t do the other,” said Peeler.
After the meet the author event, members of the SHU writing community including Peeler and Snyder will be meeting in Reeves for one of the annual NaNoWriMo (national novel writing month) writing sessions.
“Students are welcome to come, share some dinner with us, and write something fun,” said Peeler.
About the author:
Maria V. Snyder graduated from Seton Hill in 2007 with a Master of Arts degree in Writing Popular Fiction, which is now the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Writing Popular Fiction. She was hired shortly after in 2008 to work as a contractor for the program.
“I teach workshops during the residency, facilitate critique sessions, and mentor students,” said Snyder. “I really enjoy mentoring students and being able to work with them one on one. When a student finally ‘gets’ something that I’ve been explaining and the story reflects that new insight, that’s the best feeling – I get goose bumps!”
As the MFA at Seton Hill is mostly online, aside from two residencies per year, Snyder is not on campus often. However, she will be here on Nov. 19 to meet students and faculty and discuss her novel, “Poison Study.”
“I was honored that the book club chose ‘Poison Study’ for their first book discussion,” said Snyder. “I enjoy interacting with readers and writers and don’t pass up an opportunity to do an event unless it’s too far away.” Snyder currently lives in Elizabethtown, Pa., about three and a half hours away from Greensburg.
“Poison Study” is a fantasy novel about a young woman named Yelena. “Escaping the noose to become the new food taster, Yelena’s troubles have just begun. Poisoned and pursued by revenge, she develops wild magic as rebels plot, and deadly choices must be made,” said Snyder.
It was published in October of 2005 and is still selling well over ten years later. “I’m thrilled that the story has endured and is still making a connection to new readers and to those who’ve read it multiple times,” said Snyder.
“Poison Study” may be considered a unique choice for a book club at SHU since it is often labeled as young adult fiction. The cover was even redesigned to fit that audience a while after it was on the market. However, there are many aspects of “Poison Study” that could appeal to people of all different ages.
Snyder has received emails from fans of “Poison Study” ranging in age from nine to 92. “I think the story has many facets and themes that readers can discuss,” said Snyder. “Plus there’s lots of action and a touch of romance that makes the story fun for those who like to read other genres.”
Snyder specializes in the fantasy genre. “I like creating my own worlds and having magic be a part of the world,” she said. Another fantasy work of hers is a short story titled “Mongrel.”
“Mongrel” was published in the “Running with the Pack” anthology about werewolves. “I like the challenge anthologies present – they give you a basic idea, like werewolves and let you come up with a story,” said Snyder.
Snyder’s work has influenced people from all over the world, from the U.S. to Europe, to Australia. One teen shared with Snyder that reading “Poison Study” prevented her from committing suicide.
“She was depressed and considering suicide when she read my book,” said Snyder. “After reading about Yelena and her determination to survive, the girl decided her problems weren’t that bad.”
Currently, Snyder is working on the sixth Study novel, “Dawn Study.” “It’s the last of a new set of Study books – since everyone loved Yelena and Valek so much, I decided to write more Study books,” said Snyder.
Snyder looks forward to coming to SHU on Nov. 19. For information on all other things “Poison Study,” visit her website: mariavsnyder.com.