Friday, August 30, 2013

Interview with Sarah Beth Durst + signed Conjured giveaway!

Visiting Stories & Sweeties today, I am so thrilled to have the fabulous Sarah Beth Durst! YA author and creator of mind-blowing fantastical tales, she has given us Into the Wild, Out of the Wild, Ice, Enchanted Ivy, Drink Slay Love, Vessel...and now Conjured!  I shared my thoughts on the wildly creative Conjured earlier this week (here) and now Sarah is here to talk a little more about her newest book and writing life.  Here we go!

The imagery of the carnival in Conjured is creepy and at times disturbing.  Have you always had a fascination with them? Or a fear of them?
I used to have this three-foot antique clown doll that sat in my bedroom.  One day, a helpful babysitter told me about Stephen King’s It.  The next morning, I insisted my parents move the clown out to the garage.  Even then, I could feel it looking at me.
Seriously, who isn't fascinated by carnivals?  There's something so surreal about them.  It feels like going to another world, one with a lot of cotton candy.

There are a lot of strong themes running through Conjured: freedom and trust and sticking to your true self.  If Conjured were a fable, what would the proverb at the end say?
I always hesitate to say, “This is the theme,” because, as you said, there are a number of related themes in Conjured, and different ones will resonate with different readers.  Reading is such a personal experience.

For me personally, the novel is about being true to yourself.  More specifically, it’s about your ability to discover and decide who you are.  No one else has the right to define you.  You define yourself.

Conjured introduced us to a lot of really interesting characters. Which were your favorites to write and why?
I loved writing Zach, the boy without magic who can’t stop talking.  And I loved writing the banter between Malcolm and Aunt Nicki, the marshals from the paranormal Witness Protection Agency.  I tend to like characters who quip, ramble, snark, or babble.  Usually, when I write, the dialogue comes first, so characters with particularly strong or distinct voices come alive for me first.
Eve, my protagonist, was also fun to write.  She has zero memories and lots of bizarre powers.  This meant I got to write a character who was inventing herself through her story.

Your stories are always full of such unique settings and characters and plot twists. Do you know how a story is going to end when you sit down to write it?
Yes.  I always know the end (though sometimes it changes!).  The middle, on the other hand…  My outlines always seem to feature at least one “something cool happens next” bulletpoint.  I think of it like that S. Harris cartoon that has a scientist at a blackboard filled with equations on the left and the right with the words, “Then a miracle occurs,” in the middle.

Is there anyone special, a teacher or mentor, who inspired you on your path to becoming a writer?
In fifth grade, I had a teacher named Mr. Bostock who was the first person to encourage me to write.  I wrote my very first not-for-a-school-assignment story in his class.  (I remember the story too.  It was a cross between Wizard of Oz and G.I. Joe.)

When my first book came out in 2007 (Into the Wild), I did an author visit at my old elementary school, and I got to thank him in person.  He’s retired now, but he came into the school to surprise me.  It was so phenomenally awesome to be able to say thank you to someone who had such a profound influence on my life.  I wrote about that visit here:

What kind of books did you love to read as a teenager?
Same kind of books I love now!  I read and have always read fantasy.  I love the optimism and sense of hope in so much fantasy.  (You know, little guy conquers the massive evil.  Love conquers all.  Etc.)  My favorites then remain my favorites now: Tamora Pierce, Diana Wynne Jones, Charles de Lint, Robin McKinley, Patricia C. Wrede, Mercedes Lackey, Anne McCaffrey, Bruce Coville, and others.

Favorite snack while writing?

Favorite movie?
Star Wars (the original trilogy), followed by the Princess Bride, Labyrinth, and the Dark Crystal.

Favorite color?

Favorite band and song right now?
I’m currently obsessed with that Cups song from the movie Pitch Perfect.

And everyone who visits Stories & Sweeties answers this one:  Do you like cupcakes? :)  Frosting or cake better?
Yes, absolutely, I like cupcakes!  As for frosting versus cake…  It really depends on the baker.  I prefer the cake light and fluffy, and the frosting light, airy, and not too sweet.
Thanks so much for interviewing me!

Thanks for much for the interview, Sarah!

Sarah has very generously offered up a signed copy of Conjured to one lucky reader!
Enter below!
US mailing address only • Must be 13 or older • Ends 9/13/13 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Princess Bride! Can't ever watch this movie too many times.

  2. I have been so excited about this book coming out! I'm even more excited now <3

  3. I really liked Sarah's book Drink Slay Love and think this one sounds amazing. I love that crazy Hellraiser looking cover. Thanks for the chance to win!

  4. sounds awesome! Thanks for sharing and congrats to Sarah on the newest release!

  5. Conjured sounds brilliant, that cover is wonderful. I wish Sarah and I had more in common but all we share is a love for cupcakes. Thanks for the giveaway.

  6. I can't wait to read Conjured! It's been on my wishlist forever! Thanks for the awesome giveaway! :)

  7. Conjured is one of my mustreads soon! I'm also a star wars fan! :)

  8. I love Labyrinth! Now that it's on my mind, I think I might go watch it for the bazillionth time. :-D

  9. I'm so curious to read this book! *__*
    One thing in common? Only one? Blue is my favourite color and I also love that cup song from the Pitch Perfect movie! I wish I was able to do that, it's so good!