MoAA Interview #3: Sarah Beth Durst

Sarah & AletheaSarah Beth Durst and I met last fall at the Baltimore Book Festival. I thought she was super cute, but as the Fairy Goddaughters say, “Lee, you think everyone is super cute.” We took a pic together, but we didn’t really have time to hang out.

Fast forward to this summer and Nebula Awards Weekend in San Jose, where Sarah and I were both nominated (along with 10 others) for the Andre Norton Award. There, in the awards-trenches, what had previously been a passing acquaintance became a friendship I will treasure forever.

Sarah *is* super cute. She is also super talented and super quotable. I recommend all of her award-nominated novels, as well as Conjure, which  coming out from Bloomsbury /
Walker Books for Young Readers on September 3, 2013.  It’s about a girl in the paranormal witness protection program, who, haunted by visions of carnival tents and tarot cards, must remember her past and why she has strange abilities before a magic-wielding serial killer hunts her down.


Sarah Beth DurstAlethea: What’s the best thing about writing?

Sarah: Best thing about writing is writing itself. There is something so magical about stringing letters together to create images that will bloom in a stranger’s mind. It’s like casting a spell. I like to think that being a writer is the closest you can get in this world to being a wizard.

AK: What’s the worst thing about writing?

SBD: Worst thing about writing is not writing. Sometimes life interferes, and you don’t have the time and energy you need — and then the writing nags at you like a persistent cat that will not stop scratching at the closet door because she’s convinced that the most splendid mouse of all is inside. But you can’t open the door because there’s plastic inside from the dry cleaner, and you know the cat will eat it and then throw up and you’ll have to clean up the mess before anyone steps in it and… and I think I lost the thread of this analogy. Seriously, though, I wish my cat would stop eating plastic.

AK: Finish this sentence: “Writing is like…”

SBD: Magic. Sometimes it’s like Abby Cadabby magic where everything turns into pumpkins. But sometimes it opens up portals into other worlds and other lives.

AK: If you could write anywhere in the world, where would it be?

SBD: I wish I could write in exotic, writerly places like in cool cafes or on mountaintops. But I know I write best at my own desk. I love having easy access to my refrigerator. Snacks are very important to my writing process.

AK: Pick five words to describe your latest work.

SBD: For CONJURED, my next YA novel, I’d say: deliciously creepy, magical thrill ride.

AK: Pick five words to describe you.

SBD: Optimistic, determined, happy, and curly-haired.

ConjuredAK: What’s your favorite type of tree?

SBD: Catalpa. Growing up, I had a skylight over my bed, and the most magnificent catalpa tree hung over it. I used to imagine elves lived on its broad leaves and inside its thick trunk.

AK:  What were you like in high school?

SBD: Very shy, but also optimistic, determined, happy, and curly-haired. Except I hadn’t discovered hair gel so I mostly looked like a poodle. I loved school, loved books, loved theatre, loved my friends, and loved my family. I didn’t do the classic teenage-rebellion thing. Instead, I just read a lot and dreamed of being a writer.

AK: If you could give one piece of advice (writing or otherwise), what would it be?

SBD: Don’t write what you know; write what you love.

AK:  The Colin Harvey Memorial Question: What are 3 things you’d like to do before you die?

SBD: Write more, be with my family more, and celebrate my 100th birthday.


Sarah Beth Durst is a writer of fantasy novels for teens and adults, including VESSEL, DRINK SLAY LOVE, ENCHANTED IVY, ICE, OUT OF THE WILD, and INTO THE WILD. Her next book for teens, CONJURED, comes out in September 2013 from Bloomsbury/Walker. Her first book for adults, THE LOST, comes out in November 2013 from Harlequin/Luna. Visit her at