Thursday, September 27, 2012

Booklist Starred Review for Vessel!

Ridiculously excited to report that Vessel received its third starred review, in the October 1st issue of Booklist!!!

I'm simply over the moon about this.  It's so wonderful to hear that people are enjoying Liyana's story.  Yay!  And thank you so much to everyone who has shared their kind words about the book.

By Sarah Beth Durst
(Margaret K. McElderry; ISBN 9781442423763; September 2012; Fall Catalog)

Liyana is a vessel, the chosen one, nurtured, trained, and offered up by her clan for a great honor: giving her life so their goddess, Bayla, may return to earth to inhabit her body. But the goddess does not return. At the end of her day of sacrifice, Liyana is still alive, her clan having left her alone, disgraced, and in grave danger in the desert. Vessel is the read-alike for your Hunger Games–obsessed teens. From the quest to find the other clans’ spurned vessels, to the two attractive love interests, to the intelligent, independent young heroine, this folkloric fantasy, while harkening to that ever-popular novel and movie, is unique in its own web of clever, complex characters and attention-absorbing adventure. Its setting alone is so vital that it becomes another character, a part of the action. Readers will feel the desert heat, the earth-numbing droughts, the vicious sandstorms and resulting sandwolves, and the bizarre sensations of a goddess living within the body of its human vessel. Brilliantly riveting, Vessel’s only disappointment is its single volume, a fate that relegates Liyana, her lovers, and her friends to their own vessel, a single book.

-- Booklist, starred review

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Baltimore Book Festival and NAIBA 2012

This weekend, I will be in two places at once: the Baltimore Book Festival and the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association (NAIBA) Fall Conference.

I am really excited about this for two reasons:

(1) They both sound like great events.

(2) The cloning machine is functional!  So far, we've only cloned strawberries, but they're delicious so I think we're set to go.

Here is my schedule for the weekend:

Baltimore Book Festival
September 28-30, 2012 (Friday to Sunday)
Mt. Vernon Place, Baltimore, MD

Panel - Fri Sept 28, 6pm in the Children's Bookstore Tent - Michael Buckley, Ellen Datlow, Sarah Beth Durst, Jessica Day George, Adam Gidwitz, Shannon Hale - "Once Upon a Slightly Different Time: Fairy Tales Retold"

Panel - Sun Sept 30, 1pm at SFWA Pavilion - Don Sakers, Sarah Beth Durst, Jack McDevitt, and Alethea Kontis - "Where did that come from?"

Reading - Sun Sept 30, 3pm at SFWA Pavilion - Cat Rambo, Raul Kanakai, Sarah Beth Durst, Andrew J. Fox, and Brandi Tarvin

New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association (NAIBA) Fall Conference
September 29, 2012 (Saturday)
Hyatt Regency Crystal City, Arlington, VA

Signing - Sat Sept 29, 5pm

Author Reception - Sat Sept 29, 9:30-11pm

Hope to see you there!

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Books of Wonder on Saturday

I love bookstores.

I know, I know, it's a shocking confession.  But it's true.  I love them like Lucy loves her wardrobe, like Ariel loves her grotto, and like Charlie loves his chocolate factory.  And one of my favorite bookstores is Books of Wonder in New York City.

Walking into Books of Wonder feels a bit like entering Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, minus the scary boat trip with Gene Wilder.  The shelves are stuffed with books that I want to read, the walls are decorated with gorgeous picture book art, and the people who work there are consistently awesome.  Every time I do a book event there, I have a magnificent time... which is why I am so very excited for this Saturday.

This Saturday (9/22/12) from noon to 2pm, I will be reading/signing at Books of Wonder as part of their Out of This World Teen Fiction panel.  Full lineup is:

KARSTEN KNIGHT - Embers & Echoes
MALINDA LO - Adaptation

If you're in NYC, I hope you'll stop by and say hello!

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Monday, September 10, 2012

VESSEL Now Available

On the day she was to die, Liyana walked out of her family's tent to see the dawn. She buried her toes in the sand, cold from the night, and she wrapped her father's goatskin cloak tight around her shoulders. She had only moments before everyone would wake...

I am thrilled to announce the release of my new book, VESSEL!

VESSEL is a fantasy novel for young adults, published by Simon & Schuster / Margaret K. McElderry Books.  It's set 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.

I loved writing this book.  I loved creating Liyana's world, and I loved immersing myself in it.  Sitting down at the keyboard felt like stepping through a portal.

As a kid, I used to routinely check my closet for an entrance to Narnia.  VESSEL is my plunging into that closet and bursting out the other side into a land of sun and sand.

Really, that feeling is part of why I love books so much.  Books are (or can be) portals into other worlds, other lives, and other adventures.  I love crossing through those portals, and I love that when I cross back out again, this world feels wider and fuller.

To create Liyana's world, I researched several deserts (the Sahara, the Gobi, and the deserts of the Southwest US), and then I filled Liyana's desert with its own magic and mythology.  I wanted the feel of a rich storytelling tradition but in a unique world.  The act of weaving together these bits of reality with pieces of imagination felt very much like fulfilling a childhood dream.  As a kid, I used to spend hours inventing imaginary lands.  I'd tape together all the scrap paper I could find and draw enormous oceans and mountains and deserts.  I'd doodle pictures of magical creatures and fantastical plants in my school notebooks.  I even read the phone book in search of names for magical characters.  Okay, yes, maybe I took it a wee bit too far, but in my defense, it was a safer way to spend an afternoon than attempting to ski off the roof of a two-story building (which my brother tried, until our mother suggested he and his friend find a slightly less life-threatening activity).

The story itself for VESSEL came not through research but through a dream.  I don't always remember my dreams.  (The one with a legion of spiders was a standout.  Ditto the one with the killer robot Gonzos.)  But this one stayed with me.  It was just an image really: a girl, dancing.  She was barefoot in the sand, and the moon was shining over head.  And she knew that when her dance ended, she'd die.  But still, she danced wildly and joyfully.

When I woke up, I was still thinking about that girl.  I couldn't shake the image of her -- her skirts swirling around her and her tattooed arms reaching toward the sky.  I kept wondering why she was dancing, why she was joyful, and why she was going to die.  And that was the moment when VESSEL was born, when Liyana danced across my desert.

VESSEL is about losing your destiny -- and what happens after.  It's a sweeping, romantic, epic adventure.  And I am so very, very excited about it!  I hope that you will join me on the journey to Liyana's desert and dance on the desert sands with her as the sky serpents fly overhead and the sand wolves howl.

Much more about VESSEL, including the first two chapters, can be found here.

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