Interviewing the Ever-Amazing Sarah Beth Durst!

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I'm REALLY excited for today's interview, bookworms!!! I ADORE Sarah Beth Durst and am SO happy she's stopping by for an interview!

Even better? If you live in or around Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, etc., Sarah will be at the Barnes and Noble near Philadelphia that frequently hosts Sarah J. Maas in conversation with the lovely Leanna Renee Hieber (Who is hosting a Writer's Workshop at 5 p.m. with ME, so you can come out and say hi! It will be fun!!! )

I have read and loved so many books from the amazing Sarah Beth Durst, though not all of them have made it to a review (Because something is obviously wrong with me!!). My ultimate favorites by her are ICE (Which, hey, was the second book I EVER reviewed on my blog!), VESSEL, and THE QUEEN OF BLOOD.

You can find my reviews of ICE, ENCHANTED IVY, DRINK, SLAY, LOVE (Which just became a movie on Lifetime Channel this past weekend!), THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM, and THE QUEEN OF BLOOD. Everything else either hasn't been reviewed (Sometimes I read a book so far ahead and don't write an early review, and then I forget the details ^^;;) or I haven't had time to read it yet (Embarrassing, but there are a couple I own and still need to get to!)


 An Interview With


Sarah Beth Durst is the award-winning author of fourteen fantasy books for adults, teens, and kids, including Drink Slay Love, the basis for the Lifetime TV movie of the same name. Her latest book for adults, The Reluctant Queen, came out in July 2017 from Harper Voyager; her latest book for kids, Journey Across the Hidden Islands, came out in April 2017 from HMH/Clarion Books; and her first picture book, Roar and Sparkles Go to School, came out in June 2017 from Hachette/Running Press Kids. Sarah won an ALA Alex Award and a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, and has been a finalist for SFWA's Andre Norton Award three times.

Sarah was born in Northboro, Massachusetts, a small town 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 children, and her ill-mannered cat.

You can find Sarah on 
Website | Twitter  | Instagram  

You've written fairy tale retellings such as ICE (East o' the Sun, West o'the Moon has always been one of my favorite retellings, and this was the first book I ever read by you; I fell instantly in love!) and your Into the Wild duology (starring Rapunzel's daughter). You've taken elements of myth and lore and woven them into original tales such as VESSEL (featuring a trickster god) and DRINK, SLAY, LOVE (Stabbing a vampire in the heart with a unicorn horn gives him/her a soul? Brilliant!). How do you come up with the elements that you want to incorporate into your writing and turn them into something wholly original?

I love this question.

I don't know what the answer is, but it's an excellent question.

Yeah, I'm stalling so my brain has time to think...  Think, brain, think.

*cricket chirps*

*cricket morphs into human, proving existence of were-crickets*

*were-cricket eaten by were-bird*

In all seriousness, if you leave those crickets in your brain alone and don't stomp on them, they will join up with other stray bits and memories floating around in there and morph into something that can become a story.

When I sit down to think up a new story, one of the things I like to do is make a list of Things That I Think Are Awesome, then shove them together and see what happens.  

For example, with my epic fantasy THE QUEEN OF BLOOD, I took the idea of bloodthirsty nature spirits (yay, evil trees!) and matched it with the idea of an un-Chosen One.  Daleina is a mediocre student who has to work hard, really hard, to even be on the same playing field as her classmates, but she is determined to protect her family and save her world from these malicious nature spirits who want to kill all humans.

Originality occurs in the interstitial space between things that you love.

DRINK, SLAY, LOVE was a movie this past weekend on Lifetime. What was the adaptation process like, and what can fans expect when they watch the movie?

In 2011, I wrote DRINK SLAY LOVE, my YA book about a kickass vampire girl who reluctantly develops a conscience, and this past Saturday night, it premiered as a TV movie on Lifetime, starring Cierra Ramirez (Freeform's The Fosters) and Gregg Sulkin (Marvel's Runaways).  Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!

Watching them bring my characters and story to life... it was an amazing and surreal experience.  I alternated between shaking, squee-ing, and happy-crying.  I am so absolutely thrilled with everything the cast and crew did.  They slayed it.

Pun totally intended.

Fans can expect humor, heart, and butt-kicking vampire coolness.  If you're interested in watching, it's now available On Demand from lots of cable/satellite TV providers, as well as on and the Lifetime app.

Your latest series, The Queens of Renthia, utilizes spirits from nature such as trees and animals and gifts them with elemental magic. They are malevolent beings set on destroying mankind. Your world-building is so unique and vast in this series, like nothing I've seen before. What went into the world-building process, and what advice do you have for writers putting together brand-new worlds for readers to experience?

I love worldbuilding!  I'm sure there are a bunch of different way to create a world, but here's what I do:

Step 1:  Make one decision -- just one tweak to the world, such as "this world has bloodthirsty nature spirits" or "in this world, there's a living girl made of stone."

Step 2:  Chase down all the consequences of that decision.

Step 3:  Repeat steps 1 and 2 until you have a world that feels cool enough to visit.

The trick is to try to think through the ramifications of each decision before moving on to the next one, because every choice will create interesting ripples that warp and shape your world.

For example, in The Queens of Renthia series, I chose to fill the world with out-of-control nature spirits.  One direct consequence is that Renthia is a land of extreme natural beauty: massive trees (think Lothlorien or Endor-size trees), mountains so tall they pierce the sky, and endless glaciers.

The existence of these massive trees then leads to a society that lives up in those trees, in cities suspended halfway up the trunks, connected by bridges and ladders and ziplines.  And that has ramifications in the social and cultural makeup of the world... etc.

If you were a character in a fairy tale, who would you be?

I'd probably be a random peasant, hiding from the evil queen.  But I'd want to be Beauty, because I want that library!!!  (To be specific, I want the library from Robin McKinley's BEAUTY, which includes books that have yet to be written, and I want it to look like the one in Disney's animated movie.)

Dragons or unicorns?

Both are near and dear to my heart.

In my middle-grade book THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM, I have a unicorn named Glitterhoof who poops rainbows that the characters use for transportation.  

And in my upcoming YA book, FIRE AND HEIST, I have a were-dragon who leads her first heist.

What recipe would you use to create your own gingerbread house?

It would all be made out of chocolate-covered strawberries.

Out April 2018!

Hans Christian Andersen, Grimms Brothers, or Disney?

Definitely Disney.

Hans Christian Andersen's stories are heartbreakingly sad.  In his Little Mermaid, she dies, transforming into sea foam, after the physical torment of walking on feet that feel like they've been stabbed by glass shards and the emotional torment of seeing her love marry another.  I prefer the singing moray eels any day.

And the Grimms...  In their Juniper Tree, the mother beheads her son and serves him for dinner, all the while making the daughter think it was her fault.  Messed up.

Plus Disney now owns Star Wars and Marvel, and I love Star Wars and Marvel so very, very much.

What are some of your favorite novels influenced by fairy tales/mythology? (Besides, of course, your own!)

I love playing with fairy tales and mythology.  I think the phrase "once upon a time" is one of the most magical phrases in the English language -- right up there with "I love you" and "free pizza."  It instantly links you with this long and grand storytelling history.

In no particular order, here are a few of my favorites: BEAUTY by Robin McKinley (the book with the amazing library), ROSE RED AND SNOW WHITE by Patricia C. Wrede, JACK THE GIANT KILLER by Charles de Lint, THE LOST FROST GIRL by Amy Wilson, THE PRINCESS CURSE by Merrie Haskell, HERO by Alethea Kontis, THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON by Kelly Barnhill, WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON by Grace Lin, THE PRINCESS OF GLASS by Jessica Day George, THE BOOK OF A THOUSAND DAYS by Shannon Hale, SLEIPNIR by Linda Evans, CHANGELING by Delia Sherman, THE FIRE ROSE by Mercedes Lackey, WILDWOOD DANCING by Juliet Marillier, and ELLA ENCHANTED by Gail Carson Levine.

Remember to come out to see Sarah Beth Durst this Saturday, September 23rd, at 7 p.m. if you live near or can travel to Philadelphia, PA! 


During Magic, Myth, & Mischief,
we're giving away a book of YOUR CHOICE
from the event!

It could be a book by Sarah Beth Durst!
(She's written 14, so there's a lot to choose from!!! ^.~)

This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL to any country that Book Depository ships to.  You can also claim an e-book as a prize; it doesn't have to be a physical copy!

You must be at least 13 years old to enter or have a parent's permission!

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