Interview with Vessel Author Sarah Beth Durst

I am so incredibly excited to have author Sarah Beth Durst here with me today to answer some questions. Her latest novel Vessel (review here) was amazing, just like all her book are. So let’s get onto the questions and learn more about her and the worlds she creates.

A Bookworm’s Haven (ABWH): Can you tell us a little bit about Vessel for those who might have read it yet?

Sarah Beth Durst (SBD): VESSEL is a sweeping epic adventure set in a harsh desert land where serpents made of unbreakable glass fly through the sky and wolves made of only sand hunt within storms. Liyana is destined to be a vessel, to sacrifice herself so her clan’s goddess can inhabit her body… but her goddess never comes.

ABWH: The mythology in Vessel was absolutely amazing! All of those stories telling the about tribes traditions and history gave the story a very distinctive touch and really helped us get to know the characters in a unique way. Did you draw on stories you already knew to create those or were those stories your own creation?

SBD: I drew on the essence of myths — the universal themes, the archetypes, the feel of an ancient storytelling tradition — but the stories themselves are mine. So happy you liked them!

ABWH: Do you have a favorite scene from Vessel? I loved Liyana’s strong will and determination, especially when she finally meets the Emperor.

SBD: I loved writing that scene:

“You do realize that you are addressing the emperor of the Crescent Empire.”

“And you are addressing a free woman of the desert. You are not my emperor. Therefore I am your equal.”

(She says this while in the heart of a massive encampment of enemy soldiers.)

I also really loved writing the scene when Liyana first meets Korbyn, the trickster god. He walks out of a sandstorm to save her, and she threatens to skewer him with a knife.

ABWH: If you could describe Liyana, Korbyn and the Emperor in just three words each, what would they be?

SBD: Liyana: brave, determined, practical. Korbyn: clever, passionate, fun. The Emperor: serious, responsible, compassionate.

ABWH: If you could choose to belong to one of the clans in Vessel which one would you chose and why?

SBD: Liyana’s clan, the goat clan. Her family truly loves one another. Plus I really like goat cheese.

ABWH: The world you created in Vessel was brilliant and had vibrant characters that lived within it. Which comes first for you? The character’s story or the idea for the novel?

SBD: I knew I wanted to write about a desert. A couple years ago, I wrote about the Arctic in my polar bear novel, ICE, and I lived inside a frozen world. This time, I wanted to immerse myself in sand and sun. So I researched the Gobi, the Sahara, and other deserts, and I meshed them together and added magic: sand wolves, sky serpents, monstrous worms, gods and goddesses that inhabit human bodies… Liyana danced her way into this magic desert in a dream. One night, I dreamed about a barefoot girl dancing on the sand in the moonlight. She was dancing joyfully, yet she knew that at the end of the dance, she’d die. And that was it to the dream, but it was enough to fuel the entire novel.

ABWH: Have you ever read or seen yourself as a character in a book or a movie?

SBD: I picture myself inside virtually every fantasy world that I read or see. As a kid, I used to routinely check my closet for a gateway to Narnia. As an adult, I know that the gateway is through a book.

ABWH: What types of books do you like to read in your free time? Are there any authors/series that you must have when they come out?

SBD: I read exactly the same kinds of books that I write. Really, I believe the old adage “write what you know” should be “write what you love.” I love fantasy. I love stories that sweep you away on an adventure and leave you feeling that the world is a bit more wonderful than it was before. My one must-have author is (and has been for years) Tamora Pierce.

ABWH: What things do you have to have with you when writing?

SBD: I write best if I have my computer. (I type a lot faster than I can write long hand.) Also, I like to have a glass of water on hand. And a bathroom nearby. Other than that, I don’t need much. Except maybe chocolate. Chocolate is my muse.

ABWH: Is there anything you are working on now that you are really excited about?

SBD: Yes, I have two new projects that I’m really excited about: SWEET NOTHINGS (coming fall 2013 from Bloomsbury/Walker) is a YA thriller about a girl in the paranormal witness protection program, and THE LOST (coming fall 2013 from Harlequin/Luna) is the first in a trilogy for adults about a woman who is trapped in a town full of only lost things and lost people.

ABWH: Do you have anything you would like to add?

SBD: Thanks so much for interviewing me!

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