Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Author Interview with Sarah Beth Durst

Sarah Beth Durst has been a steady fixture on the YA fantasy scene for the past few years. Her latest is VESSEL, is recently out from Margaret K. McElderry. Us PoC book lovers have been dedicatedly keeping an eye on this book for a while, thanks in large part to the breath-stealing cover:

And this alluring book synopsis:
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.
Today, I have Sarah Beth Durst as a guest on my blog to talk more about herself and VESSEL, hooray!

1. Your cover has a beautiful POC model on it, and that is a total deal-maker for me! Can you tell us a bit about the type of research you had to do for VESSEL, and which cultures, if any, you drew upon for it? What was the most surprising thing you learned in your research?

I researched the lives and cultures of people who live in deserts, specifically the Sahara, the Gobi, and the southwest United States. And I meshed them together and injected them with magic to create my desert world.

A few things I learned: Snakes can stay venomous for twenty-four hours after death. You can eat a scorpion raw (if you cut off the tail). And date palm trees have bark that you can climb, but the bark is also sharp enough to cut you.

2. What was the hardest part of VESSEL to write? What was your favorite part?

I loved creating the world, especially inventing the mythology. (Oral storytelling plays an important part in the culture of my desert land.) The hardest part for me is always the first draft, when the story is the farthest from what it's supposed to be. I love revisions because, for me, that's when the story comes to life.

3. Give us a snapshot of A Day in the Life of Sarah Beth Durst, Writer.

Every morning I wake at the crack of dawn to feed the fire-breathing dragons, then I have to muck out the centaur stables and check on the were-chickens in between writing a few paragraphs...

Okay, I don't really wake at the crack of dawn. But otherwise, it's fairly accurate. My day is a constant mix of writing and daily life. I do my best to balance both.

4. You're stranded on an island. Would you rather do it on your own (Robinson Crusoe-style) or with a group of strangers (Lord of the Flies-style?)

If the island has its own library, then alone is fine. If not... then I suppose I'll take my chances with the people. Aside from being able to type fast, I don't have many survival skills so it would be nice to have other people... at least until they decide I'm Piggy.

5. What is your favorite thing to do after a good writing session?

Collapse on the couch with my husband and a bag of tortilla chips! I'd like to say something a lot more exotic, such as "after I finish writing, I head off to skydive, followed by a snorkeling expedition and a hunt for the Loch Ness Monster," but really, I just like to watch Project Runway then go to sleep.
6. Complete the following sentences:

- Fans of Tamora Pierce, Robin McKinley, and Kristin Cashore will enjoy VESSEL.

- When reading VESSEL, readers should prepare date pastries and goat cheese on pita bread as their snacks.

- After reading VESSEL, readers will never be able to think of sand in the same way again.

Thank you, Sarah! Be sure to check Sarah out at her author website, Twitter, and Facebook. Remember, VESSEL is out now from booksellers!


  1. Loved the interview - I am so excited for this book it's ridiculous. And that cover. *sigh*

  2. When I saw that cover for the first time, I just loved it! I think I made it as big as possible and just took it all in.

    Love the interview. I'll make sure to stock up on date pastries & goat cheese for snacking!

  3. "After reading VESSEL, readers will never be able to think of sand in the same way again." VERY ACCURATE.

    Can I come help feed the dragons? ;)

  4. I just finished reading Vessel, so what great timing for this interview! Sarah, as usual, is so witty!


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