Sarah Beth Durst Talks CONJURED
Eve’s memory loss leaves her dependent on others for clues about her identity. She’s almost forced to live in a constant state of paranoia, wondering who she can trust. If you were in Eve’s shoes, waking up with few memories of your past life, what would you do?
Search for a diary. Or random Post-Its that I may have left with clues. And if I don’t find a diary, I’ll start one. And I’ll leave myself as many Post-It notes as I could.
Written words are how I understand the world, how I process and cope with experiences. So written words are how I’d deal with memory losses. But Eve doesn’t really have that option. She doesn’t have enough privacy, or even enough understanding of what she’s going through, to leave herself clues.
One of the things I love about this story is that nearly every character seemed to have hidden motivations, and I never knew who to trust. I think I suspected pretty much everyone of evildoing and betrayal at some point during the story. In your own reading life, have you ever had an instance where a character betrayed your trust or surprised you with their motivations?
I know I uttered a Luke-Skywalker-esque “NO!!!” while I was reading MASTIFF by Tamora Pierce. That one had a twist that I didn’t see coming.
And as a side note, I did have one character in CONJURED surprise me by not betraying Eve. He or she (I’m not going to say who) had a different fate in my original outline. I love when you discover things through the act of writing. It’s like finding an extra birthday present stashed under your pillow.
If you could do magic, but the price was passing out and having terrifying visions and memory loss, would you keep your powers under wraps, or would you use them anyway?
I’d totally use them, because magic. I’d know I shouldn’t, and I’d feel bad about it afterward, but I know myself well enough to know I’d have about as much willpower with magic as I have with chocolate.
I love the atmosphere you created in the story, especially the carnival scenes and Eve’s flashbacks to her time traveling with the Magician. Did you have any music/movies/tv shows you listened to or watched to get into a certain mood before writing?
Sometimes I listened to Cirque Du Soleil soundtracks. And I had a playlist for the book that included The Dreaming by Kate Bush, Cornflake Girl by Tori Amos, Across the Universe by the Beatles, Cosmic Love by Florence and the Machines, and Don’t U Forget About Me by Simple Minds.
Most times, though, I wrote to whatever random song popped up on iTunes (unless it was too perky — those could be jarring). I love writing to music. I find it (oddly enough) helps keep me focused.
There’s a massive twist at the end I didn’t see coming at all. Did you always know you would take the story in this direction, or did it evolve into that ending as you wrote?
I always knew. Generally, I know the beginning and the ending for my novels, and it’s the middle that’s often really mushy when I start writing. My outlines tend to look like that cartoon with a scientist standing in front of a blackboard filled with equations on the left, equations on the right, and the words “and then a miracle occurs” in the middle.
I love CONJURED’s ending, and feel it was a very satisfying resolution, but I’d still love to see future stories set in this fictional universe. Any chance you’ll revisit these characters?
While I don’t have any immediate plans to write a sequel, I have to admit that I do miss Eve and Zach so who knows what the future will bring? Right now, though, I’m enjoying working on my next two projects: THE LOST (coming in June 2014 from Harlequin/Mira) and MIND OVER MAGIC (coming in fall 2014 from Bloomsbury/Walker). I’m really excited about both of them!
Can you give us any hints about what we can expect next on shelves from you?
THE LOST is the first book in a new trilogy for adults about a woman who is trapped in a town full of only lost things and lost people. And MIND OVER MAGIC, my next YA book, is about a telekinetic girl who is trying to save the mother of a boy she’s just met, a boy who can teleport and who lies as easily as he travels.
Thanks so much for stopping by!
Thanks so much for interviewing me!
Eve has a new home, a new face, and a new name—but no memories of her past. She’s been told that she’s in a witness protection program. That she escaped a dangerous magic-wielding serial killer who still hunts her. The only thing she knows for sure is that there is something horrifying in her memories the people hiding her want to access—and there is nothing they won’t say—or do—to her to get her to remember.
At night she dreams of a tattered carnival tent and buttons being sewn into her skin. But during the day, she shelves books at the local library, trying to not let anyone know that she can do things—things like change the color of her eyes or walk through walls. When she does use her strange powers, she blacks out and is drawn into terrifying visions, returning to find that days or weeks have passed—and she’s lost all short-term memories. Eve must find out who and what she really is before the killer finds her—but the truth may be more dangerous than anyone could have ever imagined.
Praise for CONJURED by Sarah Beth Durst
“A twisted circus of a book, completely freaky and delicious at the same time. It’s a thriller, a fairy tale nightmare, and a romance all in one, unlike anything else and impossible to predict. I could not stop reading!” — Laini Taylor, New York Times bestselling author of the Daughter of Smoke & Bone series
“Durst excels at describing grotesque violence and gorgeous magical transformations alike, painting a touching portrait of first love against a backdrop of Twilight Zone-type terrors.” — Kirkus
“Durst combines the particular terrors of memory loss and icy bureaucracy with the colorful horrors of carnivalesque murder, killer sleight-of-hand, and a creepy, terrible truth about Eve’s very being. Disorientation, curiosity, and fear course through the story, offering tight suspense and satisfying mystification even up to the last pages. An unusual blend of magical worlds, psychological thriller, and teen romance.” — Horn Book
A Junior Library Guild Selection
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About Sarah Beth Durst:
Sarah Beth Durst is the author of seven fantasy novels for teens. Her latest, Conjured, came out in September 2013 from Bloomsbury/Walker. Prior to that, she released Vessel, Drink Slay Love, Enchanted Ivy, and Ice from Simon & Schuster, as well as Into the Wild and its sequel Out of the Wild from Penguin. Her first book for adults, The Lost, comes out in June 2014 from Harlequin/Mira. She was awarded the 2013 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature and has been a finalist for SFWA’s Andre Norton Award three times. Sarah has been writing fantasy stories since she was ten years old and holds an English degree from Princeton University, where she spent four years writing about dragons and wondering what the campus gargoyles would say if they could talk. She lives in Stony Brook, New York, with her husband and children. For more information, visit her at www.sarahbethdurst.com.