For What It's Worth

Monday, September 24, 2012

Interview & giveaway with author Sarah Beth Durst–Vessel

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. 
~ Goodreads | Amazon

Please welcome author Sara Beth Durst to the blog today to talk about her captivating new fantasy novel, Vessel.

Karen: Your new book Vessel sounds amazing (and that cover is breathtaking!). Can you tell us about the story and how it came about?

Sarah: VESSEL takes place in a 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.

The story was born from multiple ideas.  I knew I wanted to write about a desert, and I'd been toying with the idea of a character who has the opportunity of extraordinary powers but at an extraordinary price.  I also had this image in my head of a girl dancing barefoot on the sand, knowing at the end of the dance that she will die.

K: Describe the main character Liyana. Do you think there is a message that young girls can take from the difficult choices she has to make?

S: Liyana is, I think, the bravest character I've ever written.  She doesn't want to die. She feels fear. Yet she is willing to do what she has to do, even if it means facing death, even if it means defying the gods, to save her family.

I think that fantasy is (or can be!) a literature of hope and of empowerment, and I hope that people reading Liyana's story feel a little stronger by the end of it.

K: All of your stories have a magical, fantasy element; were-tigers, talking gargoyles, vampire hunting were-unicorns. If you could create a magical world that you would live in, what would it be?

S: Dragons.  And unicorns.  Also, mermaids, griffins, ghosts, dryads, centaurs, pegasi, fairy godmothers, shapeshifters, knights, and talking cats.  But I want them all to be friendly with no desire to eat me.

K: Has your upbringing influenced your writing? Did your family encourage you?

S: My mom taught me to love books.  She used to take me to the library and let me drag home huge stacks of books.  She introduced me to the SF/fantasy shelves.  We used to read books side by side on the couch all summer long.

K: What was the very first story you ever wrote?

S: I wrote my very first story (outside of school) in fifth grade.  It was a cross between the Wizard of Oz and G.I. Joe.  Plus everyone in it had their own personal talking lion.

K: What is your favorite quote and why?

S: "Bird by bird, buddy.  Just take it bird by bird."  (from Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life)  It's from my favorite writing book of all time, and it's great advice whenever you feel overwhelmed.  (In the book, the author is relating an anecdote about her brother working on a research paper about birds.  He bursts into tears at the enormity of his task, and his father tells him to take it bird by bird.)

K: What magical worlds are you planning on taking us to next?

S: I am currently working on two projects:

SWEET NOTHINGS (coming fall 2013 from Bloomsbury/Walker) is about a girl in the paranormal witness protection program, who, haunted by dreams 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. 

THE LOST (coming fall 2013 from Harlequin/Luna) is the first in a trilogy about a woman running from her bleak life who finds herself trapped in a small town where all things lost -- luggage, keys, people -- are mysteriously deposited.

Thank you Sarah! We have a lot to look forward to in 2013!

mail-1Sarah 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.Website | Twitter | Facebook | Books

*You guys should really visit Sarah’s blog. It’s FILLED with extras like excerpts and links to interviews & articles with Sarah.

I’m giving away one copy of Vessel!
Just fill out the form below. Ends 9/30/12 at 12:01 am, winner announced 9/30.

Sorry - US only for this giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I love Katsa from Graceling. If I could be in a fantasy world, I would definitely choose to be in Middle Earth.

    -Len of Musings of a Reader Happy

  2. I love Sarah Beth Durst!
    I would love to live in the Harry Potter world and be a character like Hermione!

  3. I would love in the Shadow and Bone world :)

  4. I absolutely love Fire by Kristin Cashore. She's my favorite heroine.

  5. I loved Saba from Blood Red Road. She was fierce and protective and true to herself. I can't wait to read more of her story in Rebel Heart. This is such an awesome I want to read Vessel even more than I already did!

  6. Sounds like a read with a bit of a difference, thanks for featuring it.

  7. I do have a Durst book waiting for me :)

  8. At the risk of sounding cliche, I would love to live in the Harry Potter world. Hermione is one of the strongest and most awesome female characters in fantasy lit (she's a nerd who can kick your butt, what more do you want?)

    1. The other thing I loved about Hermione is that she wasn't afraid or embarrassed to be smart.

      She didn't try to act dumb around the boys.

  9. Katsa from Graceling by Kristin Cashore is forever and always my favorite brave heroine!

    1. I must meet Katsa! I've heard so much about her and quite a few of you are picking her.

  10. Thank you for a fabulous interview and giveaway! I'm dying to read this book :) I'd have to say Hermione or Mulan :)

  11. I really like Celaena Sardothien from Throne of Glass. She's pretty badass. =) Great interview and thanks for the giveaway! I love the cover.

  12. At the risk of being a copycat lol, I'd also love to live in the world of Harry Potter - the first time I saw Hogwarts I fell in love with it!! <3
    Thank you for such a fun interview an d giveaway, Vessel sounds sooooooo good! :D
    Mary DeBorde M.A.D.

  13. Love the "bird by bird" line! This story sounds amazing on so many levels. The desert setting is pretty unique, I think.

  14. Mulan is my favorite brave heroine (also, bonus points for having my favorite Disney soundtrack). I'd want to live in a fantasy world like Harry Potter. Hermione and I would get along splendidly, I think.

  15. I know you're probably sick of hearing this answer, but I totally want to live in the Harry Potter fantasy world too! Sorry :)

  16. This sounds great -- I want to read Drink, Slay Love when I have a chance.

    Katsa -- yes, she's a great heroine !!!

  17. I also really love Katsa but this time I'm going to go with Faythe in the Shifter series by Rachel Vincent. I totally love her and it's one of my all time favorite series.

    Thanks so much for this giveaway!!!

  18. A cross between GI Joe and Wizard of Oz sounds AWESOME. :D Thanks for hosting this great post! Already have a copy of the book so I'm not entering the giveaway, but now I'm even more excited to read this book.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  19. Heeheee, Sarah would be a billion creatures in one. Gryfin-drago-mer-taur. You're welcome.

    Awesome interview! Is everyone listing their favorite heroine? I think mine is...gonna be creative...gonna be creative...Bella. HA! Sike. I'll agree with one of the other girls and say Katsa from GRACELING. Girls got balls of steel.

  20. One of my favorite heroines is Mercedes Thomson.

    Thanks so much!

  21. This is a hard one but I think I would go with Yelena from the Poison Study series.
    Great interview by the way! I can't wait for Vessel. Love the cover. :) Thanks for the giveaway!

  22. I have to say Alanna from the Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce is one of my favorite heroines, though Yelena from the Study trilogy by Maria V. Snyder is a very close second. :) Thank you for the giveaway, loved the interview!