Please join us in welcoming author Sarah Beth Durst to Dark Faerie Tales today! Her newest novel, Vessel, which is about humans becoming living vessels for gods was released on Tuesday. Read the first two chapters from Vessel here.
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. She has twice been a finalist for SFWA’s Andre Norton Award, for both Ice and Into the Wild.
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. She also has a miniature pet griffin named Alfred. Okay, okay, that’s not quite true. His name is really Montgomery.
Want to read more from Sarah Beth Durst?
DFT: Could you start things off by telling us a little about Vessel?
Sarah: VESSEL is about a girl who lives in a harsh desert land and is destined to sacrifice herself so her clan’s goddess can inhabit her body… but her goddess never comes.
DFT: Could you tell us about your main characters in Vessel?
Sarah: Liyana is my protagonist. She’s fearless, practical, and willing to sacrifice herself to save her family, especially her beloved four-year-old brother Jidali.
Korbyn is a trickster god. He saves Liyana because he needs her to save everyone else.
DFT: Do you have a favorite scene or line in Vessel?
Sarah: I love when Korbyn walks out of a sand storm to save Liyana — and she threatens to skewer him. I also love the first moment we meet Liyana:
On the day she was to die, Liyana walked out of her family’s tent to see the dawn. She buried her toes in the sand, cold from the night, and she wrapped her father’s goatskin cloak tight around her shoulders. She had only moments before everyone would wake.
I wrote that paragraph first, and it remained virtually unchanged throughout all my many drafts.
DFT: What inspired you to write about humans as living vessels for gods and goddesses?
Sarah: It’s an idea that I’d been toying with for a while. But it didn’t click as a full story until I decided to write about a desert. For me, stories are born from lots of little ideas fusing together: a desert, a girl destined to die, deities inhabiting human bodies, wolves made out of sand, sky serpents of unbreakable glass, a young emperor…
DFT: How much research went into creating this book?
Sarah: I researched several deserts, specifically the Sahara, the Gobi, and the deserts in the Southwest US. My favorite research book was WALKING THE GOBI by Helen Thayer, mainly because the author is so casually badass. She shrugs off situations that would have me running around in circles screaming.
DFT: What is your favorite part about writing this book?
Sarah: I loved creating the world! As a kid, I used to spend hours drawing maps of imaginary lands, so this was like fulfilling a childhood dream. And I loved immersing myself in Liana’s world. It was like traveling to a faraway land without having to pack.
DFT: Do you have a particular writing process or ritual?
Sarah: I like to have chocolate nearby. And I like to start my writing sessions by spilling my non-story-related thoughts into a journal so that I won’t be distracted by them later. But neither is really essential. I’ve found that the fewer rituals I have, the more I write.
DFT: What influences and inspirations (both literary and non-literary) do you draw from while writing?
Sarah: I draw inspiration from all the books that I have ever loved. I think books are magic, and I want (and have always wanted) to be a part of creating that magic. So I try to capture the same feel in my writing that I have when I’m reading.
DFT: Which genre do you prefer to read? Do you have any favorite authors or series?
Sarah: Fantasy. I am sucker for stories about girls who kick butt and their talking horse/wolf/sword/dragon/marmoset. My favorites include Tamora Pierce, Diana Wynne Jones, Bruce Coville, Mercedes Lackey, and Robin McKinley.
DFT: What can you tell us about any other projects you are working on?
Sarah: I’m currently working on SWEET NOTHINGS, a YA novel coming in fall 2013 from Bloomsbury/Walker. It’s about a girl in the paranormal witness protection program. I also recently sold my first trilogy to Luna. They’re called THE LOST, THE MISSING, and THE FOUND, and they’re my first books for adults. I am really, really, really excited about all of them!
DFT: If you could be a paranormal creature, what would you be and why?
Sarah: Dragon. Because dragons are awesome. I would also accept some kind of shapeshifter. Same reason.
DFT: Who is your favorite mythological god/goddess? Why?
Sarah: I love Anubis (from ancient Egyptian mythology). He looks like he holds such secrets.
DFT: I want to thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.
Sarah: Thank you so much for interviewing me!
Available September 11, 2012 from Margaret K. McElderry/Simon & Schuster
About this Book:
In a desert world of sandstorms and sand-wolves, a teen girl must defy the gods to save her tribe in this mystical, atmospheric tale from the author of Drink, Slay, Love.
Liyana has trained her entire life to be the vessel of a goddess. The goddess will inhabit Liyana’s body and use magic to bring rain to the desert. But Liyana’s goddess never comes. Abandoned by her angry tribe, Liyana expects to die in the desert. Until a boy walks out of the dust in search of her.
Korbyn is a god inside his vessel, and a trickster god at that. He tells Liyana that five other gods are missing, and they set off across the desert in search of the other vessels. For the desert tribes cannot survive without the magic of their gods. But the journey is dangerous, even with a god’s help. And not everyone is willing to believe the trickster god’s tale.
The closer she grows to Korbyn, the less Liyana wants to disappear to make way for her goddess. But she has no choice: She must die for her tribe to live. Unless a trickster god can help her to trick fate—or a human girl can muster some magic of her own.
Click HERE to read an excerpt
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