Sarah Beth Durst: A Self Portrait
Sarah Beth Durst Revealed
About Sarah Beth Durst
What is your birthdate?:5/23
Favorite job:Writer. I know this sounds cheesy, but I think that being a writer is the closest you can get in this world to being a wizard. Books are magic. They cast a spell over you that, for the space of a few hours, transports you to a new world and into new lives. I have always wanted to be a part of that magic.
High school and/or college:Princeton University, class of 1996. I loved it there. In fact, my next novel (after ICE) is about magic at Princeton.
Name of your favorite composer or music artist?:Enya. Her music is perfect writing music: moody, pretty, and I can’t understand what she's saying so I'm not tempted to sing along.
Favorite movie:Star Wars. Can there be any other answer? It is the quintessential modern fairy tale.
Favorite television show:I loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as well as the short-lived The Life and Times of Juniper Lee (which was essentially Buffy minus the whining). Lately, I watch American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance because both shows are about people reaching for impossible dreams. As someone who has had an impossible dream (i.e. writing) since I was ten years old, I love seeing dreams come true.
- Q. How would you describe your life in only 8 words?
- A. Full of family, chocolate, writing, books, and love.
- Q. What is your motto or maxim?
- A. Be prepared. Be happy. Watch out for skunks.
- Q. How would you describe perfect happiness?
- A. Cannolis from Boston's North End. Or if you ask me sometime when I'm not hungry: several hours of writing followed by lots of hugs from my family. Plus cannolis.
- Q. What’s your greatest fear?
- A. Death. Pain. Skunks. And Frisbees. Specifically, Frisbees flying through the air at high speed near my face. I am proud to say that I can face a stationary Frisbee without any feeling of horror.
- Q. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
- A. I'd like to sound all sophisticated and pick a romantic or exotic locale like the Amalfi Coast or Venice or Thailand. But really, I'd like to be in Disney World. It's just so clean. And they have these really good strawberry popsicles and chocolate-covered bananas.
- Q. With whom in history do you most identify?
- A. Louisa May Alcott. Okay, I don't actually know anything about her life, except that she was a writer since a young age and was from Massachusetts. (I live in NY now but was born in MA.) Also, if I'd written Little Women, I'd have tossed in a few more talking animals and not had Beth die. Maybe I'd have had Beth transform into a talking animal... Hmm, Beth as a werewolf...
- Q. What are your most overused words or phrases?
- A. I say, "I love you, " to my family a thousand times a day, but I don't think it's possible to overuse those words (at least not if you mean them).
- Q. What do you regret most?
- A. I regret those thousand little moments where I didn't say the right thing or was too shy to say anything at all. I also regret a certain jar of expired mayonnaise.
- Q. If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
- A. Telekinesis. If that's not available, then I'd love to be able to draw well. Or maybe write with my feet. That would be cool.
- Q. What is your greatest achievement?
- A. Becoming a published writer. I have wanted to be a writer since... well, forever. It's the only thing I ever wanted to do with my life. So my greatest achievement is never giving up on that dream.
- Q. What’s your greatest flaw?
- A. I can't parallel park.
- Q. What’s your best quality?
- A. Perseverance. I think that's an essential quality for a writer (or anyone with an impossible dream) to have. I also love being an optimist. It's easier to persevere if you toss in a little bit of rose-tinted-glasses-style self-delusion.
- Q. If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
- A. I like being me. I am (knock on wood!) very lucky. I have a family who loves me, and I am doing what I always dreamed of doing. But if we're talking about just for a day... I think it would be cool to be a dolphin. But not one of those pink Amazon dolphins because they're kind of ridiculous looking and the bottlenose dolphins are always mocking them on their blogs.
- Q. What trait is most noticeable about you?
- A. I have curly hair. No, you don't understand. It’s really, really curly. See my author photo? That's me with about a bottle of gel dumped on my head to encourage the curls to respect the laws of gravity. If you tried to blow dry my hair, I'd have a cloud of fuzz around my head so big that I'd be a hazard to birds.
- Q. Who is your favorite fictional hero?
- A. It's a toss-up between Alanna from the Tortall books by Tamora Pierce and Harimad-sol from The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. Both are girls with swords who save the day.
- Q. Who is your favorite fictional villain?
- A. Darth Vader. He makes an entrance, reveals important plot twists, has a softer side, and wears a cool cape. What more could you want from a villain?
- Q. If you could meet any historical character, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
- A. Abraham Lincoln. "Perhaps, Mr. President, you might skip the theatre tonight..." Or simply, "Duck!" Except that I don't believe you can change the past even if you could time travel, so he'd probably dismiss me as a lunatic and then the Secret Service would later lock me up as an accomplice because how else could I have known... Okay, maybe I should just tell Shakespeare that he did a good job on Hamlet.
- Q. What is your biggest pet peeve?
- A. After writing ICE, it drives me batty when polar bears are depicted frolicking with penguins. Polar bears live near the North Pole; penguins live near the South Pole. You can't get any farther apart. It would be like an elephant frolicking with a chipmunk in my backyard.
- Q. What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
- A. Reading. Eating chocolate. Reading while eating chocolate.
- Q. What’s your fantasy profession?
- A. I'd like to be a marine biologist. Except that I hate boats, am not very good at swimming, and am terrified of scuba diving. Hmm, maybe I should stick to writing.
- Q. What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
- A. I judge people primarily on whether or not they say hello to me, so I'd have to say niceness. Also sense of humor (because how can you face life without that?). And third... Really, so long as someone is kind and willing to smile, I can overlook pretty much anything else.
- Q. If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
- A. Pizza. (Not such a great stretch since I eat that for almost every meal anyway.)
- Q. What are your 5 favorite songs?
- A. Puff the Magic Dragon by Peter Yarrow (though it always makes me cry). Bibbity-Bobbity-Boo from Cinderella (because it always makes me smile), also When a Hippo Can Dance by Sandra Boynton (same reason). Caribbean Blue by Enya (because it's pretty, though I have no idea what the lyrics are). Just a Little Girl by Amy Studt (because it makes me feel like conquering the world).
On Books and Writing
- Q. Who are your favorite authors?
- A. All-time favorite authors include: Tamora Pierce, Robin McKinley, Charles de Lint, Diana Wynne Jones, and Bruce Coville.
- Q. What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
- A. All-time favorite books include: Beauty by Robin McKinley, Deep Wizardry by Diane Duane, Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffrey.
- Q. Is there a book you love to reread?
- A. I love to reread all my favorites. It's like visiting old friends. Books are my comfort food.
- Q. Do you have one sentence of advice for new writers?
- A. The secret to being a writer is sheer pig-headed stubbornness.
- Q. How did you come to write Ice?
- A. I love polar bears. I love fairy tales. And I love stories about girls who kick butt. But most of all, I wrote ICE as a love letter to my husband. It's about true love, real love, the kind where you face the world as a united team, the kind where you'd go east of the sun and west of the moon for your love.