young adult book reviews & more

Interview with Sarah Beth Durst

All of your previous books, both young adult and middle grade, contain fantasy elements. Why do you choose to write in this genre?
I am a firm believer that "write what you know" should really be "write what you love." And I love fantasy! I am a sucker for any story about a kick-butt girl and her talking horse/dragon/wolf/sword/potato sidekick. I love the feeling of empowerment and hope that I get from reading a fantasy novel. I love that fantasy has the power to take me on an impossible journey and to restore my sense of wonder.

How was writing Vessel similar or different to the process of writing any of your previous young adult books?
Vessel is my sixth young adult novel, and I have honed my process down to the following steps:

1. Carefully craft an outline.
2. Print out my outline and proudly display it next to my laptop.
3. Ignore the outline and write the first draft as quickly as possible with minimal regard to characters, plot, setting, or verbs.
4. Buy some chocolate.
5. Create a new outline that fixes all the stuff that was wrong with the first one, loosely inspired by whatever poured out of my fingers in step three.
6. Open a brand new file and write the second draft from scratch using the new outline.
7. Eat the chocolate.
8. Repeat as needed until done.

What sort of research did you have to do while writing Vessel?
I love to mix reality and fantasy, so I did a lot of research on the Sahara Desert, the Gobi Desert, and several deserts in the southwestern part of the United States. I then wove them together, layered in my own mythology, and added wolves made of sand, sky serpents of unbreakable glass, monstrous worms, and gods and goddesses that walk in human bodies.

What is the most interesting thing you learned while writing Vessel? (This can be about yourself, about writing, or anything at all).
I learned that snakes can remain venomous for twenty-four hours after death. Also, I learned that there is something immensely freeing about writing about a world that doesn't exist. There's a wonderful feeling of utter immersion when you take yourself into a purely imaginary place. It made for a fantastic writing experience.

What is the most rewarding part about being a young adult author?
The most rewarding part of being an author is being able to write the next book!

If there was one thing you could change about Vessel, what would it be?
Honestly, I did the best I could with this book and poured everything I have. So I'm happy with it as it is. I hope everyone else is too!

You’ve written both young adult and middle grade before, but you have a forthcoming adult trilogy. How, if at all, do you think writing for this audience will be different than writing for children and young adults?
I try very hard not to think about audience as I write. It's too paralyzing to worry about what will be right for a particular kind of reader. Instead, I try to focus on what's right for a particular set of characters and what the story itself needs. I actually think the difference between writing Drink, Slay, Love (my snarky vampire and were-unicorn novel) and writing Vessel (my sweeping epic adventure) will be greater than the difference between writing a young adult novel and a novel for adults.

What are you working on next, aside from your adult books?
I am working on my next young adult novel, Sweet Nothings, which is coming from Bloomsbury/Walker in fall 2013. It's about a girl in the paranormal witness protection program, who, haunted by dreams 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.

1 munch(es) :

Creative A said...

Great interview. Her writing process is so unique! I can't imagine writing a draft from scratch, over and over again. That's both impressive and daunting. Drink, Slay, Love is the only novel I've managed to read of hers, yet, so I look forward to seeing the "difference" she mentioned in Vessel.


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