Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Author Interview: Sarah Beth Durst

I enjoyed the book, The Lost (my review) recently and had an opportunity to interview the author. Hope you enjoy!

The Lost
Series: Lost #1
by Sarah Beth Durst
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Available Now
It was only meant to be a brief detour. But then Lauren finds herself trapped in a town called Lost on the edge of a desert, filled with things abandoned, broken and thrown away. And when she tries to escape, impassible dust storms and something unexplainable lead her back to Lost again and again. The residents she meets there tell her she's going to have to figure out just what she's missing, and what she's running from, before she can leave. So now Lauren's on a new search for a purpose and a destiny. And maybe, just maybe, she'll be found. 
Against the backdrop of this desolate and mystical town, Sarah Beth Durst writes an arresting, fantastical novel of one woman's impossible journey and her quest to find her fate.
1. I felt that the book was a retelling, or had some aspects of several beloved stories. Could you tell me which ones you intentionally put in the Lost?

Lost is a town full of only lost things and lost people.  Lost socks, shoes, umbrellas, library books, keys, dogs, dreams, minds, lives, innocence, childhoods...  It's made up of leftover bits and forgotten moments.

THE LOST not a retelling, but I did deliberately reference familiar and beloved childhood touchstones: Wonderland, Peter Pan, Wizard of Oz -- yanking them out of their comfortable childhood corners and infusing them into this rundown desert town, in order to create an off-kilter, disoriented feeling.

The feel of Lost was also inspired by the feel of T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," the Eagles' "Hotel California," various Yeats poems, and the terrible creepiness of the Island of Misfit Toys from that old Rudolph Christmas special.  I used to have nightmares about that place.  *shudder*

2. What kind of research did you do for this book?

Mostly random Google searches: abandoned towns, top 10 most frequently lost items, strangest items ever left behind in a train station... etc.  I then spent a lot of time carefully building the town of Lost.  It's as much a character in the book as Lauren, Peter, and Claire.

3. Peter, Lauren and Lauren's mother are all readers. What books would they recommend?

Great question!  Peter loves poetry.  He's read and memorized tons of Yeats, T.S. Eliot, Emily Dickinson, Shakespeare, etc.  He loves the way words can both capture and obscure -- and he uses poetry as both a way to cope and a way to hide.  So he'd recommend books of poetry.

Lauren treasures art books that she's had since she was a kid, but lately, she's been reading travel memoirs, like Under the Tuscan Sun and Eat, Pray, Love and North of Ithaka.

At the start of the novel, Lauren's mother is into self-help books.  She likes to pass them on to her daughter, though Lauren never reads them.

4. Is there anything you can tell us about the up coming book, The Missing? 

You'll get some answers.  A lot of answers, actually.  But more questions.  (I know, I know, I'm being vague, but I'm trying not to give spoilers!)  I can tell you that it takes Lauren to places that she never imagined existed.  And that she must find light in even the darkest of places.

And you will find out what's in room twelve.

5. Anything you would like the readers to know about The Lost?

Writing THE LOST was a wonderful experience.  I felt like I was discovering Lost alongside Lauren, and I fell in love with her town.  It feels as real to me now as any town I've visited.  And I feel lucky that I'm able to live there for three books.  THE LOST will be followed by THE MISSING in December and then the final book in the trilogy, THE FOUND, in April.

Thanks so much for interviewing me!

Bio (from Sarah's website):
Sarah Beth Durst is the author of eight fantasy novels for teens and adults. Her YA titles includeConjuredVesselDrink Slay Love,Enchanted IvyIceOut of the Wild, and Into the Wild. Her first book for adults, The Lost, came out in June 2014 from Harlequin/Mira and will soon be followed by The Missing, in December 2014, and The Found, in April 2015. Sarah's next book for teens, Chasing Power, comes out in October 2014 from Bloomsbury. 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 was born in Northboro, Massachusetts, a small town 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.

Thanks for coming on the blog and answering a few questions! I enjoyed this book and I think others will as well. :)


  1. I like when the setting is as much a character as the characters themselves. And I love travel memoirs! It's my way of escaping without travel.

  2. Great interview. Totally intrigued by Lost I'm away to add it to my wish list.

  3. I've only read Drink, Slay, Love, but Lost sounds super interesting and different. Def. want to read more from this author. Great interview.

  4. My friend Sara raves about this book! I wasn't sure if it's for me or not, I've heard it strange, but strange can be good! I do like books that are outside the box.

  5. Thanks again for answering a few questions. I really enjoyed this book and can't wait for the next in this series.

  6. Now I need to google most lost items

  7. Ahah! I kept saying her name over and over while looking at that title in my dashboard. I recognized her name. I remember seeing the books around, that's why. :)

  8. Awe lovely interview! This one hadn't been on my radar but now you've got me wanting to give it a shot! :)

  9. Love the research, and mentions of classic "lost" shows, movies, books. Wonderful interview :)

  10. I really really want to read this one. Thanks for the fun interview; the town sounds so intriguing. Love the research and influences she mentioned. :)

  11. Oh it sounds like a really nice one, thanks for the interview. It's great to see that you made some refenreces about tales we know.

  12. A town full of lost people? Count me in. Will have to check this book out.

  13. I'm definitely so curious to read this one but I like to read series in chunks, so I think I'll be waiting for at least the sequel to release before diving into this. Love this interview, though, and it's so interesting to hear that aspects of Wonderland, Oz, and Peter Pan made it into this. Thanks for sharing, Melissa!(:

  14. I haven't read this book yet, but I already desperately want to know what's in Room 12. WHAT COULD IT BE MELISSA?! Obviously we don't find out until book two so I'm going to have to be patient. Loved this interview!

  15. Great interview! I like knowing that The Lost isn't an actual retelling but more a new story that harkens back to old favorite. Kind of like Into the Woods<-----my favorite musical ;)

  16. I love Sarah's imagination and she always writes such interesting, original worlds and stories. Lovely interview! I'm glad to hear the sequel will give us answers!


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