Snyder, Midori 1954-
SNYDER, Midori 1954-
PERSONAL: Born January 1, 1954, in Santa Monica, CA; daughter of Emile Snyder (a poet and professor of African languages and literature) and Jeanette Lebaron (an ethnomusicologist and Tibetan scholar); married Stephen Haessler (an educator), June 16, 1979; children: Carl, Taiko. Education: Attended the University of Wisconsin (European social history and East Asian literature); graduate studies in African languages and literature, specializing in Arabic and Swahili oral narrative traditions; pursuing degree in Italian studies. Hobbies and other interests: Building masks for theatre productions, playing classical and folk mandolin, Shotokan karate instructor, fan of movies produced by Hong Kong Cinema.
ADDRESSES: Agent—Howard Morhaim, Morhaim Literary Agency, 841 Broadway, Ste. 604, New York, NY 10001.
CAREER: Freelance writer, c. 1985–.
AWARDS, HONORS: Mythopoeic Award, novel of the year, for Innamorati.
New Moon, Ace (New York, NY), 1989.
Sadar's Keep, Unwin (London), 1990, Tor (New York, NY), 1991.
Beldane's Fire, Tor (New York, NY), 1993.
NOVELS; UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED
Soulstring, Ace (New York, NY), 1987.
Beldan's Fire, Tor, 1993.
The Flight of Michael McBride, Tor (New York, NY), 1994.
Hatchling (juvenile), Random House (New York, NY), 1995.
The Innamorati, Tor (New York, NY), 1998.
Hannah's Garden (juvenile), Viking (New York, NY), 2002.
Work represented in anthologies, including the Borderlands anthologies, edited by Terri Windling, Signet; The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY); Black Thorn, White Rose, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terry Windling, 1994; and The Armless Maiden, edited by Terri Windling, 1995.
SIDELIGHTS: Midori Snyder is the author of several fantasy novels. Her first, Soulstring, is a Gothic, high fantasy novel based on the British folk song "Tamlin." She has penned a fantasy trilogy, a western cowboy fantasy novel called The Flight of Michael McBride, a contribution to Jim Guerney's Dinotopia world with the juvenile novel The Hatchling, an Italianate fantasy, The Innamorati, and a fantasy for children. She has also collaborated with comic book artist Charles Vess in writing the script for "Barbara Allen" in the acclaimed series, Book of Ballads and Sagas. She is a founding member of the popular shared world anthology, Borderlands, edited by Terri Windling, and has published three novellas in the series. In addition she has contributed short stories to numerous anthologies, some of which have been reprinted in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling.
Soulstring tells the tale of a young woman who inherits her sorcerer father's talents for magic. Instead of being delighted, the father is enraged that his magic has passed to a female instead of a male child. Unable to kill her until she is grown, he bides his time and uses a great deal of cunning to keep her from marrying or finding any other form of escape. When she is finally taken away by the man of her dreams, the sorcerer complicates things by changing that man into a deer—making the sorcerer's pursuit of the loving couple even more harrowing. Citing "some well realized minor characters" in a positive review of Soulstring, a reviewer for the Science Fiction Chronicle asserted that "fantasy and gothic romance mix well" in its pages.
Another of Snyder's successful fantasy novels is The Flight of Michael McBride, which combines Irish myth and legend with a Wild West setting. The tale begins with an Irish immigrant family in the eastern part of the United States, as Michael McBride and his father play cards while Michael's mother lies dying. Upon her death, the fairy curse that has been upon her all her life is transferred to Michael, and he finds himself fleeing all manner of beings straight out of Irish legend—most notably a demon known as Red Cap. He escapes to the American West, where he makes friends with the half-Apache Jake Talking Boy, but when Michael falls in love with a young woman named Annie May, he realizes he must face his supernatural enemies or doom his loved ones.
A Publishers Weekly critic felt that the novel's plot "lacks surprises" but also declared it to be "at times entertaining." Janet G. Polacheck in the Voice of Youth Advocates admired the novel's characterization, citing Annie May in particular as "believably delicate and attractive" despite her "Ozark country accent." Tom Easton in Analog: Science Fiction and Fact hailed The Flight of Michael McBride as "a charming tale of growing up under fire," and further concluded that "Snyder shows considerable talent here. She is a strong, vivid storyteller, and fantasy fans will not be disappointed."
Snyder followed The Flight of Michael McBride with The Innamorati, a fantasy inspired by a one-year sojourn she took to Milan, Italy, with her husband and children. The story revolves around four companions who travel to the Italian city of Labirinto during the Renaissance period. They have come seeking a maze, which, according to legend, holds the power to purge an individual's curses and worries if they can reach its center. The characters who arrive at the maze, each hoping to unburden themselves of a particular worry or problem, include an actor who cannot stop stuttering, a muted siren who is forced to live in exile from the island of her birth, and a duelist who wants to stop living by the sword. Throughout the book the characters encounter fantastic creatures and figures from Greek and Roman mythology in an intricate plot that includes talking masks, satyrs, and sea nymphs. A Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote that "it's fairly miraculous how Snyder pulls all this off; she does, though. The hybrid of street theater and fantasy seems to spin itself into existence before the reader's eyes."
The centerpiece of Hannah's Garden is a mystical garden that is a gateway to another world. Seventeen-year-old Cassiopeia Brittman and her mother, Anne, rush to the bedside of Anne's father, Daniel, a reclusive artist who has become ill. They discover that his farm has been vandalized and is crumbling with neglect, as is the garden originally planted by Cassie's great-grandmother, Hannah. Anne and Cassie, a modern-day girl worrying about finals, the prom, and a violin recital, soon face off with two warring clans, the Green Clan and the Red Clan, who have been fighting each other for control of the garden. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that "thanks to Snyder's gift for description, readers may feel as if they can hear the music or smell the fragrance of the garden's rare woodland species." Booklist reviewer Kay Weisman noted that in addition to being an adventure, Snyder's story includes "less obvious points about the power of music, art, and storytelling and about the importance of caring for the land." Kliatt reviewer Claire Rosser wrote that Snyder "is a gifted writer who creates believable modern humans and just as believable fantastical creatures. The sense of magic and myth permeates all, and strong desires and fears are powerful forces all the beings, human and nonhuman, must contend with."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, 1975–1991, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1992.
Analog: Science Fiction and Fact, May, 1995, Tom Easton, review of The Flight of Michael McBride, p. 166.
Booklist, May 15, 1998, Joanne Wilkinson, review of The Innamorati, p. 1607; January 1, 2000, Bill Ott, review of The Innamorati, p. 989; October 15, 2002, Kay Weisman, review of Hannah's Garden, p. 402.
Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2002, review of Hannah's Garden, p. 1401.
Kliatt, November, 2002, Claire Rosser, review of Hannah's Garden, p. 15.
Library Journal, October 15, 1994, p. 90; July, 1998, Jackie Cassada, review of The Innamorati, p. 141.
Locus, April, 1991, p. 44; October, 1994, p. 33; January, 1995, p. 51; February, 1995, p. 39.
Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy, February, 1995, pp. 33-34.
Publishers Weekly, November 14, 1994, p. 57; June 22, 1998, review of The Innamorati, p. 88; October 21, 2002, review of Hannah's Garden, p. 77.
Rapport, number 1, 1995, p. 35.
School Library Journal, October, 2002, Miranda Doyle, review of Hannah's Garden, p. 172.
Science Fiction Chronicle, April, 1988, review of Soulstring, p. 56; May, 1995, p. 49.
Voice of Youth Advocates, June, 1995, Janet G. Polacheck, review of The Flight of Michael McBride, p. 110.