Exclusive Interview: Sarah Beth Durst

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Author Sarah Beth Durst joins SciFiChick.com again to talk about her latest fantasy release, CONJURED!

Can you tell us a bit about CONJURED in your own words?

CONJURED is the creepiest and wildest novel I’ve ever written. It’s basically a psychological thriller. With magic. Lots of magic. It’s about a girl in the paranormal witness protection program, who, haunted by visions 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.

Who is Eve? Why is she in the witness protection program?

Ooh, look, shiny bird!

*dodges question*

Seriously, those are the key questions. Who is Eve? She has no idea. She doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t know who to trust. But the novel isn’t precisely about her discovering the answer — it’s about her creating the answer. The heart of the novel is her journey from no one to someone, from a pawn to someone in charge of her own destiny.

How did you approach writing a character with complete memory loss?

I wrote CONJURED using a very tight point-of-view. The idea is that the reader goes on this journey with Eve and feels all the claustrophobic chaos of being such a blank-slate kind of character. To compensate, I tried to make the world around her and all the secondary characters as vivid as possible, and I kept very careful track of everything that happens that Eve doesn’t witness or remember so that those things could inform the words and actions of those other characters.

[SPOILERISH] Why is the killer to be tried in our world’s courts versus the place where he committed the crimes?

This world has no magic. So it’s the only safe place to try a magic-wielding serial killer. (Note: the judge is not from this world so the trial is fair.) Plus it’s really Malcom’s case, and this is his home.

CONJURED is by far your darkest novel. Has this been a progression of your writing style? Or is it just how your stories have developed?

This story wanted to be dark. I know that sounds like a cop-out — blaming the story as if it’s some separate entity with a will of its own. But each story has its own tone. DRINK, SLAY, LOVE (my vampire girl and were-unicorn novel) needed to be snarky. VESSEL (my epic desert fantasy) had to be sweeping and, well, epic in feel. And CONJURED needed to be creepy.

Last time we talked you mentioned an adult trilogy that you sold. How is that coming along? What will it be about?

This is my first trilogy, and I’m loving writing it! It’s about a woman trapped in a town full of only lost things and lost people. The first book, THE LOST, will be out in June 2014 from Harlequin/Mira. *happy dance*

Any other young adult novels in the works?

Yes! My next book for young adults is called MIND OVER MAGIC, and it will be out in fall 2014 from Bloomsbury/Walker. I’m really excited about it!!

Do you think you’ll write outside of fantasy in the future? Maybe science fiction?

Someday I’m sure I’ll write science fiction. I love that too. But I doubt I will ever write realistic fiction. My mind simply doesn’t work that way. If a character opens a closet door, I never think they’ll find clothes and shoes. I always expect a monster or a transdimensional portal or a talking dust bunny.

My heart belongs to fantasy (and to all its relatives: science fiction, horror, magical realism, etc.). For me, it’s a literature of hope and empowerment, even… or especially… in darkness.

Thanks so much for your time, Sarah!

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