Note about the book’s title. When I started writing the story, I knew I wanted to have “poison” in the title or something about learning. I saw the movie Educating Rita and briefly – very briefly thought Educating Yelena. I then considered Studying Poison, Learning Poison, and Poison Education before I thought of Poison Study. I liked it, but thought I’d spark on something better and, if not, that my future publisher would change the title. I was surprised they kept it and I’d never ever imagined eventually writing 6 Study books!
CHAPTER 1 NOTES
All the writing how-to books tell writers to start their novel with a hook. Something to grab the reader’s interest and hopefully never let it go. I’d decided my main protagonist would be a food taster for a King (the Commander came later – see the “birth” of Poison Study: http://officialmariavsnyder.blogspot.com/2015/09/the-birth-of-poison-study.html), and she would be on death row so starting the book with her in a dungeon cell waiting to be executed seemed like a good place to start. And to further “hook” my readers, I have her recall a horrible event from her recent past. I wanted to build some sympathy for her so when the readers learn she’s a murderer, they might give her the benefit of the doubt.
When author Kate Elliott read an early draft of the first chapter, she put an exclamation point next to place where Yelena says, “I killed him.” And Kate said, “that’s where you hook your reader.” At that point, Yelena admits to murder, doesn’t give any excuses or explanations, and now the reader wants to know WHY!
Before writing the book, I spent a good deal of time picking the names of my main characters. I imagined Valek to be like the Ice Man from the movie Top Gun. The actor who played him was Val Kilmer, so I played around with the letters of his name and came up with Valek (I also briefly considered Valello, and Valerio – both start with Val). For Yelena, I wanted something different, but not too hard to pronounce (I tried to make all my character names be easy to pronounce). I had a baby name book and I looked at the top 10 Russian names for girls. I checked the meaning of all of them and found out Yelena meant, “bright one” or “shining one” and I thought since she starts out in a very dark place with no hope, this would be a clue that things would get better for her. Plus I liked the way it sounded. Ambrose came from the last name of a man I was in a writing class with. His last name was D’Ambrose, which I used in the first draft, but then dropped the “D.” Sorry, I can’t remember why.
The first draft of the first chapter also had another sentence at the very end. After Yelena says, “I am not a fool.” I wrote Valek replying, “Yes, I can see that.” Kate Elliott put brackets around this sentence and wrote, “Cut? The other line is perhaps a stronger ending.” She was right and I deleted it. To read Chapter 1 of Poison Study from Valek’s POV, go here: http://www.twochicksonbooks.com/2015/10/blog-tour-poison-study-by-maria-v.html?m=1
Question 1 - What profession would Valek take up in a perfect world?
Don't answer this question in the comments!! This is another chance to win! There will be 31 questions for each chapter note published. Collect the answers to ALL the questions (or your best guess) and then enter to win a T-shirt at the end of the month (I'll post the Rafflecopter on the 31st). You can win this special red minion T-shirt that tells the world you are a die-hard reader. It will be open to ALL and there will be 10 T-shirt winners!!