Author: Maria V. Snyder
Publisher: Leap Books
Publication Date: October 2013
Genre: Middle Grade
Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
The youngest son in family of search-and-rescue dog trainers, Luke must face his deadly fear of storms to prove that he and the dog he’s training belong in the family business.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the synopsis. I knew it was written by one of my favorite writers, Maria V. Snyder. (If you haven’t checked out her Healer series, my personal favorite, then you should run out and grab them now!) I knew it was middle grade, and it was about dogs and the weather. It turned out to be so much more.
Having just lost his mother, Luke and his brothers live with their father who is a famous Search and Rescue leader. There’s a lot of family dynamics that are brewing just under the surface. Whether that’s Luke struggling with his own guilt and demons, or his interactions with his bullying brothers, or even his thin relationship with his father, the is a lot of emotion going on in this book. Luke blames himself for his mother’s death and is sure that his family blames him too. That’s certainly a lot to place on a young kid, who has no friends and a large anxiety towards thunderstorms.
But Snyder handles gentle Luke’s character gracefully, allowing his insecurities and flaws to shine through. The family’s grief is dark cloud, floating in and out of the atmosphere of the tale, making the family and their challenges very real to me. I wanted to slap awake Dad and tell his brothers to shut up. And that’s the beauty of the story. It resonated with me because the characters are so real, their motivations so clearly sprung from their loss.
The secondary characters are fun and full of life. The story brought me in and held me there, my heart cracking slowly for Luke and warming for the dogs. I am a dog person. Yes, I have rabbits. But I am a dog person. Snyder brings all of the sweet dogs to the forefront, loyal heroes who add yet another layer of warmth to this world.
I really enjoyed Storm Watcher, reading it in two nights as soon as I got home from work. It’s a satisfying book about family, love and grief.
Rating 8 Cookie Worthy
Maria V. Snyder writes adult and young adult fantasy novels and short stories. Formerly an environmental meteorologist, she earned a Masters degree in writing from Seton Hill University; she is currently a teacher and mentor for the MFA program. Storm Watcher is her first middle grade novel. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for stopping by Maria!
What kind of research did you do for Storm Watchers? Did you watch a lot of Weather Channel shows? (I happen to love Weather Channel shows.)
I am addicted to The Weather Channel! However, I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Meteorology from Penn State University so I really didn’t need to do that much research for the weather. What I had to research was search and rescue techniques, dog breeds, and how to train dogs to follow a scent trail.
You’ve written so many books! How does the process get easier for you as you continue with new characters and plots? How does it get harder for you?
I’m getting better at knowing what scenes and characters are going to work in my stories. I no longer have a ton of deleted scenes and extra characters that I included to add more subplots only to discover later I have too many. I’m better with my time management and don’t have that panicked rush to the deadline (well, I still have it, but it’s not as bad as before J). Writing is still hard – putting the words on the pages is always an effort and the hardest part is finding new plots and characters and finding fresh ways to get them into trouble. Also finding fresh ways to describe emotions – there are only so many ways you can say, “Her heart pounded.” Hearts pound for lots of reasons, love, fear, excitement, and after running – so the trick is to be original and creative.
Do you listen to music while you write?
Yes, I listen to mostly pop music – 3 Doors Down, Matchbox 20, Plain White Ts, Snow Patrol, The Goo Goo Dolls, etc… Songs I’ve heard so many times that I no longer really listen and can concentrate on my writing.
Have started writing one of your characters one way but then halfway through, they turned into someone different?
Oh yes! Remember the Commander from Poison Study? I’ve had many characters decide they weren’t going to follow my plans for them. Devlen in my Glass series wouldn’t stay evil. Once he was free of the blood magic addiction he was supposed to go to jail and stay there. Nope, the guy develops a conscience and a desire to make amends, messing up my plot! In Storm Watcher, Megan’s dad returns to cause trouble, except he wouldn’t follow the script either.
How do you take your potato?
Most of the time with just butter and salt. One special occasions, with cheese and bacon.
Who are some of your favorite authors you would love to meet?
I’ve been very lucky to have met many of my favorite authors (mostly at book signings). However, I’d like to have an actual conversation with Harlan Coben, Joss Whedon, Connie Willis, and Gail Carriger. I’m also pretty lucky that some of my favorites are also my friends like Kate Elliott, Mindy Klasky, and Rachel Caine – the perks of being an author!
Would you ever consider doing a co-write with someone?
Depending on the story and the person, I would consider it. Mindy and I have talked about it, but we’re both so busy with projects it might be a long time before we get serious.
Recently, an author has admitted that in retrospect, they maybe should have written a series/character differently. Do you have any characters you feel like you would have written differently now when you look back?
Nope! I’m not one to look back and wish to change things – what’s done is done. And I think even if authors wish they could change something about their characters/series, they should keep that regret to themselves. I think it taints the readers’ experiences with the books. Look at what George Lucas did to the original Star Wars movies – it ruined them for me and others (I see lots of “Han shot first” T-shirts at conventions). Okay, I’m stepping off my soap box….now ;).
So great for you to stop by Maria! Thank you so much for the interview!
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