Friday, October 9, 2009

My Interview with Sarah Beth Durst

The author of Into the Wild and Out of the Wild recently contacted me to let me know about her latest book, Ice. As a result, I was able to get a free copy of the book and publish a review of it before it was released on October 6. Another exciting result is that Sarah agreed to give me an interview, albeit in the emailed-back-and-forth format that passes for an interview in the Blogosphere. So here are my Q's and her A's. Thanks, Sarah!

RF: What attracted you to writing a book based on "East of the Sun and West of the Moon"? Did a particular version of this grandmother tale inspire you?

SBD: I love this fairy tale. It has everything one could ask for: a fearless heroine, true love, an impossible quest, and a talking polar bear. The version of the tale that I fell in love with was collected by the Norwegian folklorists Asbjornsen and Moe, translated to English by George Webbe Dasent and illustrated by the amazing artist P. J. Lynch.

I veer rather far from the original tale in my novel ICE -- it's set in present-day Arctic and incorporates a lot of elements not in the traditional story -- but at its heart, it is still a tale of a fearless girl, true love, and an impossible quest across the frozen North.

RF: Besides your study of folklore, what research did you do to prepare for writing ICE?

SBD: I did a TON of research on the Arctic. I read every nature book, survival guide, polar bear book, explorer memoir, etc. that I could get my hands on. My favorite was A Naturalist's Guide to the Arctic by E. C. Pielou.

RF: How closely do you identify with Cassie, your main character in ICE?

SBD: Not at all. She dives into freezing oceans, jumps off mountains, and walks through blizzards. I, on the other hand, am a total coward and not very fond of the outdoors. (Too many bugs!) I loved writing about her, though, and living vicariously.

RF: Tell us a little about the path that led you to write novels based on folklore.

SBD: Folklore and fairy tales are everywhere. The images have such a grip on our imagination and on our way of seeing the world. To me as a writer, they're irresistible. So many reader expectations and so much cultural baggage to play with!

RF: Do you have other folklore-based novels planned? What can you tell us about them?

SBD: My next novel is called TIGERLILY, and it's coming from Simon & Schuster in fall 2010. It's about magic at Princeton. It isn’t folklore-based, but it does have were-tigers, talking-gargoyles, dragons, and hot college boys. I've very excited about it!

RF: What values or message do you want to get across to your readers? Or, do your books have a purpose besides to entertain?

SBD: Story comes first. Always. That said, I'm sure my worldview seeps into all my work. ICE, for example, is about true love -- the kind of love you work at, not simply fall into. Real love.

RF: In order of priority, who is the "target audience" you intend to write for?

SBD: I write for me -- or people like me, who want magic, adventure, and love in their books. I don't write for a particular age. In fact, I think it's a mistake to alter your style or tone or themes to fit a particular age reader. Just be true to the story and the characters and your own heart, and the rest will take care of itself.

RF: What writers and books do you consider most influential on your work and outlook?

SBD: I love fantasy. These days, I read YA fantasy almost exclusively. Some of my favorites are Tamora Pierce, Diana Wynne Jones, Diane Duane, and Patricia C. Wrede.

I love the optimistic worldview that you find in so much of YA fantasy, the little-guy-can-triumph and true-love-conquers-all kind of attitude. That attitude matches my outlook and informs my work. I’m definitely a glass-half-full, don’t-give-up kind of person.

RF: What do you think of your contemporaries, such as Michael Buckley and Delia Sherman, who are writing books based on similar material?

SBD: I love their work! Michael Buckley's Sisters Grimm books are wonderful, clever and fun, and Delia Sherman's Changeling is a must-read for anyone who has ever set foot in NYC. I'd also recommend Juliet Marillier's Wildwood Dancing and Elizabeth C. Bunce's A Curse Dark as Gold.

There are a ton of wonderful YA books out these days. It's a very exciting field to be a part of!

Thanks so much for interviewing me!

1 comment:

BookChic said...

I love Sarah's books and just finished Ice and loved it. Great interview!! :)