Although I've already released the review of Outside In, here's a fun Q & A with Maria about the series and about writing.
\ 1) There is no doubt that The Force of Sheep Rules. Which of the members are you most like, and which of the members would you most like to be?
I hate to admit this, but I’m probably the most like Doctor Lamont. As a mother, I understand her motivations and fears better than the others. I’d want to be more like Trella—she’s brave and determined and just won’t quit—all good qualities to have in life.
2) After reading the Study and the Glass series, I was wondering how you'd torture Trella physically. The brutally and the type of devices used on her are really well thought out. What gave you the inspiration for the particular device in question with an X controller pad/thingy? Was it harder trying to find ways to beat Trella up because of the methods used in the earlier series?
With the Insider series being set in a science fictional world—basically they live in a big metal cube—I could use more technological weapons than magic and traditional weapons used in my other books. It wasn’t any harder, just different. I have the kill zappers and the threat of being fed to Chomper as ways for security to control the people because, after all, the scrubs outnumber the uppers by ten to one.
As for the X controller, I think the whole invisible fence thing for dogs may have inspired it. For those unaware of the invisible fence—dog owners bury a wire around their property instead of installing fencing. The dog wears a special collar and when he tries to cross the wire, he is zapped with an electrical charge. The dog is trained at first, with red flags marking the wire’s location and eventually the flags and collar are removed. With Trella’s ability to hide in the air ducts and outsmart a number of other weapons, the Outsiders needed something to keep track of her.
The reason bad things happen to my heroines, is they are dealing with bad people. People who will not shy away from using any means possible to get what they want. This increases the stakes and tension throughout the story because getting caught has terrible consequences.
3) I make sure I don't read info about new releases until I read them. Doing this meant it was a huge shock when I learned about The Controllers. I was freaked out by how clever they were in tricking those Inside. Did you already know the method to defeat the Controllers, or was it something you had to think about for a while?
I had to think about it for a while. I'm a seat-of-the-pants writer. I get an idea for a character in a certain situation, then I mull over a possible ending and start to write, discovering the details as I go. However, I do have to write a synopsis for my editor to approve, so I fill in the middle with my best guess. The finished product never matches that original synopsis, but my editor hasn't complained...at least not yet :) And sometimes this way of writing gets me into trouble as I can write myself into a corner and have to think a few days on how to get out.
4) In the absence of magic, there is human intelligence, and technology. Outside In explores more options in technology, both positive and negative uses. Was it fairly easy for you to figure out the details of the devices, or did you have to do quite a bit of research for them? I'm especially interested in the controlling device operated by the Outsiders.
With the world being completely contained, I needed to do research about what equipment the Insiders would need to survive. As a former environmental meteorologist, I already knew quite a bit about air systems, waste-water systems and recycling. Hydroponics and figuring out which farm animal to include took some research. I really liked the fact that the Insiders have to reuse, repair, and recycle everything—even the dead bodies (fertilizer for hydroponics – this isn’t Soylent Green people!). As for the controlling device, I invented the technology—taking the basic invisible fence principles to a whole other level.
5) It's a tough call whether Trella was hurt more emotionally than physically by the end of Outside In. It takes her forever to let other people in to her life - and when she's ready at her own pace, it's too late (for a short while). With Sheepy even closer to her than ever at the end of the book, could Trella still make fundamental mistakes in the future? Will there be any more books about her?
Trella learned a lot from her experiences in both books—especially that she can trust a few close people even if they’re not acting trustworthy. Everyone can still make mistakes, even Trella – life is a learning experience and when you stop learning, then you’re dead and fed to Chomper....well, at least that’s the case in Trella’s world J
Right now there are no plans for a third book. However, I won’t say “never.”
Great questions Jessica!! Thanks so much for inviting me onto your blog. If your readers would like more info about me and my books, I have the first chapter of all my books on my website as well as a number of free short stories they can read. I also have a page full of writing advice for any aspiring writers out there :) Here’s the link:http://www.mariavsnyder.com And my blog is: http://officialmariavsnyder.blogspot.comI'd like to thank Maria for answering the questions, and giving more insight into the Force of Sheep.