Sarah Beth Durst is the author of young adult novels Vessel, Drink, Slay, Love, Enchanted Ivy, and Ice from Simon & Schuster, as well as middle grade novels Into the Wild and Out of the Wild from Penguin Young Readers. Her next book for teens, Conjured, comes out in September 2013 from Bloomsbury/Walker. Her first book for adults, The Lost, comes out in June 2014 from Harlequin/Mira. She won the 2013 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature and has been a finalist for SFWA’s Andre Norton Award three times.
Sarah was born in Massachusetts as Sarah Angelini and grew up in Northboro, a small town in central Mass that later became the setting for her debut novel.
At the age of ten, she decided she wanted to be a writer. (Before that, she wanted to be Wonder Woman, except with real flying ability instead of an invisible jet. She also would have accepted a career as a unicorn princess.) And she began writing fantasy stories.
She attended Princeton University, where she spent four years studying English, writing about dragons, and wondering what the campus gargoyles would say if they could talk.
Sarah lives in Stony Brook, New York, with her husband, her two children, and her ill-mannered cat.
Shae: Hi, Ms. Sarah, and welcome!
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of your work, what are five things we should know about you?
Sarah Beth Durst:
1) I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was ten years old.
2) CONJURED is my seventh novel.
3) I have really, really curly hair. Even curls when wet.
4) I’m afraid of skunks.
5) And Frisbees. (Not in a paralyzing sort of way. I’m just convinced they’re all going to hit me in the face.)
Sh: In preparing for this interview, I had so much fun learning about your books. I learned about you when I fell in love with your 2012 YA fantasy Vessel, but you actually started with an MG book in 2007 titled Into the Wild. Could you tell us a little about that book and what prompted it?
SBD: Total wish fulfillment. I grew up in a nice, quiet town in Massachusetts, and I always wished something magical would happen there: dragons in the woods, aliens in the school, goblins in the basement. No such luck. So I wrote INTO THE WILD to fix that problem. In it, fairy-tale characters live in secret in my old hometown… but the fairy tale wants its characters back.
Sh: After that series concluded, you moved onto Ice, a YA with an eighteen-year-old protagonist that has been on my to-be-read list for what feels like forever. It looks amazing! Was it frightening to move from MG to YA?
SBD: Not frightening at all. For me, the story dictates the age of the protagonist, which in turn dictates whether the book is labeled MG or YA or adult. INTO THE WILD and OUT OF THE WILD were about Rapunzel’s daughter, a girl who was caught between worlds. So I wanted her to be twelve-years-old, the age that many people start questioning their place in the world and who they are. For ICE… ICE is basically Beauty and the Beast meets Arctic adventure. But at its heart, it’s about leaving home and finding or creating your own home. For that story, I wanted her to be eighteen, the age many people leave home for the first time.
Sh: You’ve really kicked it into high gear this year with two nearly simultaneous releases. Conjured, your paranormal YA, is being published by Bloomsbury/Walker in September while The Lost, your first adult book, is being published by Harlequin Luna in November. What has it been like for you as you juggle two different books in two different age categories with two different publishers?
SBD: It’s been fantastic! And busy. And somewhat lacking in sleep.
I decided to do two books a year because I noticed that I’ve started writing faster. Over the last few books, I’ve learned a ton about what writing process works best for me, and that’s enabled me to become more efficient. (To any aspiring writers out there: it does get easier! Never easy, but easier.)
By the way, there has actually been a change to the pub date for THE LOST. The publication schedule for the trilogy was recently re-worked such that the three books could come out in more rapid succession. THE LOST, THE MISSING, and THE FOUND are now scheduled to be released in June 2014, December 2014, and April 2015. So CONJURED will actually be my only new book for 2013, but with my next YA coming in fall 2014, I’ll have 3 books out next year! More about this here: http://sarahbethdurst.blogspot.com/2013/08/big-changes-afoot-for-lost-trilogy.html
Sh: I’ve been pleased by how strongly Bloomsbury has been behind Conjured. They’ve put out quite an impressive marketing push. What can your fans look forward to in this book? (I personally can’t decide whether the serial killer or the reoccurring amnesia excites me more.)
SBD: You can expect the unexpected. (Cue “Twilight Zone” music.) CONJURED is not a traditional thriller. It’s more a fall-down-the-rabbit-hole, twisted fairy-tale kind of thriller. I tried to achieve a feeling of chaos and disorientation as Eve tries to figure out who she is and who she can trust.
You can also expect some kissing. 🙂
Sh: As I mentioned before, The Lost is your first adult book, which is terribly exciting. I can’t wait to get my hands on it. In themes and content, how “adult” is The Lost? Do you expect it to have strong crossover appeal with your teen fanbase?
SBD: Thanks! I’m really excited about it. And yes, I expect it to have crossover appeal to teens.
The primary reason that THE LOST is a novel for adults is that it’s about loss, and I wanted the protagonist to be someone who has experienced loss and feels the emptiness of abandoned dreams. So I needed her to be late-twenties, rather than teenage.
This or That:
Unicorns or gargoyles? Unicorns
Apples or bananas? Bananas (but only if they’re not mushy — actually, that’s true for apples too)
RedBox or Netflix? Netflix
American football or soccer football? 🙂 Basketball
Sh: There are so many more questions I would love to ask (especially about Vessel, because I’m still swooning over it nearly a year later), but for time’s sake we’ll stop here. Thank you for being a game participant! Readers, you can learn more about Sarah and her books at her website, sarahbethdurst.com, and connect with her via her blog, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and Facebook.
SBD: Thanks so much for interviewing me!
Eve has a new home, a new face, and a new name—but no memories of her past. She’s been told that she’s in a witness protection program. That she escaped a dangerous magic-wielding serial killer who still hunts her. The only thing she knows for sure is that there is something horrifying in her memories the people hiding her want to access—and there is nothing they won’t say—or do—to her to get her to remember.
At night she dreams of a tattered carnival tent and buttons being sewn into her skin. But during the day, she shelves books at the local library, trying to not let anyone know that she can do things—things like change the color of her eyes or walk through walls. When she does use her strange powers, she blacks out and is drawn into terrifying visions, returning to find that days or weeks have passed—and she’s lost all short-term memories. Eve must find out who and what she really is before the killer finds her—but the truth may be more dangerous than anyone could have ever imagined.
Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst is on shelves and online now!