Sunday, May 01, 2016

Cover Reveal for THE QUEEN OF BLOOD!

Last week, Barnes & Noble revealed the cover for my upcoming epic fantasy novel, THE QUEEN OF BLOOD!

I can sum up my reaction in a single word (or letter!): "Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!"

I am so, so, so thrilled with it and so excited to share it with you!

The B&N post also includes an interview with me and the amazing artist Stephan Martiniere about the cover creation process. 

I am so honored to have Stephan Martiniere's art on my book.  I've admired his work for some time, and I think he did an absolutely fantastic job in capturing the feel of the novel and the grandeur of the forests of Renthia.  Thank you so much to Stephan, my editor David, and the wonderful art department at Harper!!!

THE QUEEN OF BLOOD is book one in the Queens of Renthia series.  Here is the description from the jacket:

Everything has a spirit: the willow tree with leaves that kiss the pond, the stream that feeds the river, the wind that exhales fresh snow . . .

But the spirits that reside within this land want to rid it of all humans. One woman stands between these malevolent spirits and the end of humankind: the queen. She alone has the magical power to prevent the spirits from destroying every man, woman, and child. But queens are still just human, and no matter how strong or good, the threat of danger always looms.

With the position so precarious, young women are chosen to train as heirs. Daleina, a seemingly quiet academy student, is under no illusions as to her claim to the throne, but simply wants to right the wrongs that have befallen the land. Ven, a disgraced champion, has spent his exile secretly fighting against the growing number of spirit attacks. Joining forces, these daring partners embark on a treacherous quest to find the source of the spirits' restlessness -- a journey that will test their courage and trust, and force them to stand against both enemies and friends to save their land . . . before it's bathed in blood.

I had the most wonderful writing experience working on this book!  It was pure joy from start to finish.  Every day felt like walking into another world. 

THE QUEEN OF BLOOD will be out on September 20th from Harper Voyager, and I can't wait for you to come walking in Renthia with me! 

Just watch out for the bloodthirsty nature spirits.......

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Wednesday, April 06, 2016

10 Year Agent Anniversary

Exactly 10 years (and 10 books!) ago, I signed with my amazing agent, Andrea Somberg.  I know this because I have the letter she sent me framed on the wall beside my writing desk.

My life changed that day, and so I just wanted to say thank you, Andrea, for believing in me, for making my dreams come true, and for being absolutely awesome!  Happy agent-anniversary!

Tuesday, November 03, 2015


I am delighted and thrilled and completely ecstatic to announce that my 10th book, THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM, comes out today!!!

THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM is a fantasy novel for kids, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt / Clarion Books.  It's about a girl whose family owns a secret dream shop where they buy, bottle, and sell dreams, and the adventure that she and her best friend -- a loyal and cupcake-loving monster named Monster -- go on when someone starts kidnapping dreamers.  (That's Monster right there on the cover, the one with the tentacles next to a pink ninja bunny.)

This book was born from a wish.  Or maybe I should say... a dream.

When I was six, I had a reoccurring nightmare: a robot from outer space who looked exactly like Gonzo would invade the Earth and shoot M&M-sized beetles out of his curved nose, killing people.  Freaked.  Me.  Out.  So every night at bedtime, I'd chant, "Dream about dragons.  Dragons, dragons, dragons!"  Sometimes it worked, and I'd get a fun dragon dream.  Other times, killer robot Muppets.  I used to wish I could bottle the fun dreams and save them for scary nights. 

The truth is I still wish that.

That's where this book came from.  It started with an image of a secret shop, filled with blue bottles that stored swirling, shimmering dreams.  You drink a bottle; you dream the dream.  Flying through the clouds, picnicking with pink bunnies, befriending monsters… everything in the infinite world of the imagination is available to you, if you dare.

I wrote the first scene four years ago, while I was supposed to be working on an entirely different book.  It sneaked up on me, the way Monster sneaks out of the closet and becomes part of Sophie's life.  I knew someday I'd write about this girl and her best friend, a six-tentacled monster who may or may not like to eat small children with ketchup, but I didn't tell anyone.  Sophie and Monster waited patiently, my secret, tucked away in a file on my computer, until it was time to write their story.

About halfway through writing THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM, I had an epiphany, one of those so-obvious-why-didn't-I-think-of-it-before kind of epiphanies: that this is why I'm a writer.  I'm trying to create my own dream bottles.

I've always thought of books as magic, and I believe that being a writer is the closest you can get to being a wizard -- to creating a spell that takes people out of their own lives and brings them into a shared dream.

So here it is, my story, bottled in book format, and I am inviting you to drink.  I hope you enjoy it and that it keeps the killer robots away.  Happy reading!  And happy dreaming!

You're Invited!

I'm having a book launch party, and I'd love it if you could come!  The party will be on Saturday, November 14th, from 1 to 3pm, at Books of Wonder in Manhattan, one of my absolute favorite bookstores, and I'll be joined there by Bruce Coville, one of my absolute favorite authors, who has graciously agreed to play emcee and lead our discussion of the book, writing, and lots more.  Please feel free to bring the whole family, as well as anyone else for that matter.  The more the merrier!  Here's the info:

Saturday, November 14th, from 1pm to 3pm
Books of Wonder
18 West 18th Street
New York, NY

For more about THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM, including the first two chapters, please visit my website.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Happy Back to the Future Day!

Absolute best moment in "Back to the Future" is when George McFly opens up his box of books. I remember thinking as I watched it in 1985, "I want that." To this day, whenever that box of first copies arrives, I always call it my Back-to-the-Future box.

Except that one time I forgot and accidentally named it after some other 80s movie, and my husband had to tell me, "There's no such thing as a Breakfast-Club box."

Happy Back to the Future Day, everyone!


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

New York Comic Con 2015 (Part 2)

I had SO MUCH FUN on my panel at New York Comic Con last Thursday!  Best panel topic ever.  It was called "Fantasy Draft League," and we were asked to create an all-star fantasy team that included a wizard, a warrior, a cleric, a thief, and a wildcard, drawn from our favorite books.

The authors drafting teams were Bradley Beaulieu, Zac Brewer, Sarah Beth Durst (me!), and Eleanor Herman; the judges (to decide who created the best team) were Naomi Novik and Sam Sykes; and the moderator was David Pomerico from Harper Voyager.

Here's who I picked:

1. Cleric

So when I first started to think about this panel, I sat down and whipped out a list of the best wizard, warrior, thief, etc... and then I looked at what I'd written and realized that every character was from a David Eddings novel.

There are two reasons for this: one is that I adore all those books.  Between the ages of ten and twenty, my mom and I reread the Belgariad so many times that we wore out three sets of paperbacks.  After that, the Elenium and the Tamuli have become my comfort food reading.

But the second and more important reason is that David Eddings's characters are the best of the best.  The best warrior in the world.  The best thief of his generation.  The best wizard ever.  He doesn't tell the story of the unlikely hero.  His heroes are VERY likely.  He picks the most competent people as his protagonists... and pits them against the biggest bads imaginable.

So for my cleric, I chose one of the strongest Eddings characters out there: Sephrenia, the High Priestess of Aphrael.

Sephrenia is the most powerful sorceress ever.  There's no spell she can't do, and she will do it better than anyone else around.  She is also accompanied by Aphrael, the childlike goddess who can manipulate time and persuade anyone, including other gods, to assist her.  In short, with her, I pretty much don't even need anyone else.

2. Wizard

I toyed with choosing a classical wizard: Gandalf, Merlin, Allanon...  But I've already got the spell-casting kind of magic covered with Sephrenia, plus Gandalf and Allanon are overbooked.  They'd probably flit off mid-quest to go defeat an evil demon-possessed druid or something.  And Merlin has way too much emotional baggage, with all that happened in Camelot.

So for my wizard, I picked someone with an entirely different magic: wild magic.  Daine, from the Immortals quartet by Tamora Pierce.

Daine has animal magic.  She can talk to any animal, transform into any animal, and adopt any animal attribute (like bat hearing).  I know that doesn't sound all that impressive when you say it like that, but hear me out...  Daine isn't limited by distance or quantity.  She can summon any number of animals over any distance.  Imagine you're in a city and every rat, every pigeon, every pampered pup decided to attack you at once.  You won't be having a very good day.  Now imagine you're out on a quest in the woods...  Yeah, Daine is awesome.

She also has the bow skills of Katniss Everdeen.

3. Thief

I wanted to choose Silk from the Belgariad by David Eddings, but I'd already chosen Sephrenia and the rules said no repeat authors.  (True story: in sixth grade, I had to write an essay on "the person I admire the most," and I picked Silk.  I have no idea what my teacher thought of this choice.)

Anyway, I next thought about choosing Locke Lamora from the Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch.  Locke Lamora is the quintessential thief.  But he also gets beat up a lot, so I thought that maybe he's not actually that good at his job...

So I decided to go with Kelsier, from Mistborn the Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson.  Kelsier is an excellent thief, plus he's also a kind of sorcerer called an Allomancer, which means he uses metal to perform magic.  Kind of like Magneto with a few extra bells and whistles.

He is also an excellent crew leader with great vision and the ability to unite a team.  Very useful when dealing with a set of strong characters from different backgrounds.

4. Warrior

For my warrior, I looked to urban fantasy.  I love urban fantasy, and it is full of lots of powerful warriors.  UF warriors typically start out at a high level of competence -- they're already a mercenary or a detective or something -- and the structure of their plot takes them from not-so-powerful to powerful over the course of each novel... which means if their series lasts long enough, they become VERY powerful.

One of my favorites is Kate Daniels, from the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews.  She's awesome.  She lives in a version of Atlanta where sometimes magic works (and technology doesn't) and sometimes technology works (and magic doesn't).  She's an incredible fighter, especially with a sword, plus she has the ability to use power words (very effective magic spells) and can turn her blood into impenetrable armor.

She also rides a donkey named Cuddles and is engaged to a were-lion.

5. Wildcard

I was torn about who to pick for my wildcard.  I was tempted to go with a dragon, like Temeraine from Naomi Novik's Temeraine series or Ramoth from Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey or Falcor the Luck Dragon from the Neverending Story by Michael Ende, because I've always wanted a dragon.  But instead I picked:


The lion.

He roared the universe into existence.

You really can't beat Aslan.

So that's my team!  What do you think?  Who would you pick?

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Monday, October 12, 2015

New York Comic Con 2015 (Part 1)

I was one of the guest authors at NY Comic Con this year.  If you've never been to Comic Con, here's what you need to know:

They have battle pigs.

And lots of Lego minifigures.

And Ghostbusters, to keep you safe on the off chance that the battle pigs and the Lego minifigures become possessed by angry ghosts and attack.

The best part about the above photo was that as I was passing, the Ghostbuster was explaining to the cops how all his ghost busting equipment worked, presumably trying to recruit them.  The cops looked interested.

I also took this shot of a man dressed as every character every played by Johnny Depp all at once:

And here is Voldemort, hailing a taxi:

I don't know whether a taxi stopped for him, but when I looked back, he was gone.

I had such a fantastic time at Comic Con!  Saw and met so many great people, plus I was on one of the best panels I've ever been on.  It was called Fantasy Draft League, and in it, each panelist had to choose a warrior, wizard, thief, cleric, and wildcard character to make up the most awesome fantasy quest team ever.  So much fun.  I'll write about it more in my next blog post. 

Here are photos of me and my fellow panelists (from left to right in the top photo: Naomi Novik, Sam Sykes,
Bradley Beaulieu, Zac Brewer, Sarah Beth Durst, Eleanor Herman, and David Pomerico) at the panel and at our autographing:

And lastly, here's the Empire State Building, looking lovely in pink:

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Tuesday, October 06, 2015

NYCC 2015 Schedule

New York Comic Con is just two days away!!!  Woohoo!!!  I'm going, so if you're going, please stop by to see me -- I'd love to say hi! 

I will be on a panel at NYCC on Thursday (Oct 8th), followed by an autographing.  Here are the details, including the official description:

Fantasy Draft League
Thursday, October 8
4:15 pm - 5:15 pm
Room 1B03

It's like Fantasy Football but for SFF lit Fans! Four Authors (Eleanor Herman, Zac Brewer, Sarah Beth Durst and Bradley Beaulieu) draft an "all-star" fantasy team choosing characters from their favorite books: one wizard; one warrior; one cleric; one thief/rogue; one wildcard. They battle it out to see who can create the ultimate fantasy line-up! Draftmaster David Pomerico will set the ground rules and two judges (Sam Sykes and Naomi Novik) will offer commentary after each round and vote on which fantasy fiction league will take the crown. Before they announce their deliberations, the audience will weigh in as well. Let's get ready to rumble!

The autographing will be from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm at WORD Bookstore 1-B (in Javits Convention Center).  I'll be giving away and signing ARCs of my upcoming book THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM.

I'm so excited for this panel!  Isn't it such an awesome topic?  I think it's my favorite panel topic ever.  I've been completely obsessing over it.  Made at least five different teams already...

Hope to see you there!

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Wednesday, May 06, 2015


I am very, very, extremely, stupendously thrilled to announce that I've sold my next middle-grade novel!!!  It's called THE HIDDEN ISLANDS, and it's a book that I've wanted to write for a long time.  It's one of those books that started as a little tiny seed of an idea and then grew and grew inside me until it finally burst out.

Here is the official announcement from Publishers Weekly Children's Bookshelf:

Anne Hoppe at Clarion has acquired Sarah Beth Durst's middle-grade fantasy The Hidden Islands, in which a magic barrier has shrouded the islands of Himitsu for centuries, keeping the kingdom safely hidden from all perils, but now the barrier is failing, and two princesses try to save their people. Publication is slated for spring 2017; Andrea Somberg at Harvey Klinger brokered the deal for world rights.

With some books, I can't remember the exact moment that they began.  With this one, I can.  I was in the kitchen, cutting slices of Muenster cheese (or "monster cheese," as we call it) for a midnight snack with my husband.  We were talking about something completely unrelated, and out of the blue I said, "I want to write a book with winged lions."  And he said, "Okay.  Do it.  How many crackers do you want for the cheese?"

So now I'm doing it!  My book with winged lions!  Also, two princesses, seven beautiful islands, one volcano spirit.....  Extremely excited to write this book and to share it with you!

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015


Cover art!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

*runs in circles, shrieks, and flails arms like a Muppet*

I am extremely excited to share with you the cover art for my upcoming middle grade novel, THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM, coming in November 2015 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt / Clarion Books:

I love it so very much!  Look at Monster!  Seriously, look at him!  He looks exactly the way he's supposed to look -- lemur eyes, tentacles, even the golden tongue -- and the artist (the amazing Andrea Femerstrand) really captured his spirit. 

He's Sophie's loyal best friend who may or may not like to eat small children with ketchup.  I can't wait for you to meet him and Sophie and Ethan, not to mention the ninja bunnies...

THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM is about a girl whose parents own a secret dream shop.  Here's the description from the jacket flap:

Sophie's favorite place in the world is the hidden shop beneath her parent's bookstore where dreams are bought and sold to select and secretive strangers. Sophie is fascinated by dreams -- weird, scary, or magical -- in part because she has never had a single dream of her own.

When the shop's dreams are stolen and her mother and father go mysteriously missing, Sophie must unravel the truth to save her parents. Together with her best friend -- a wisecracking and fanatically loyal monster named Monster -- she must decide who to trust with her family's carefully-guarded secrets. Who will help them, and who will betray them?

I am also thrilled, honored, and very grateful to be able to share with you these lovely blurbs from two of my all-time favorite authors, the magnificent Bruce Coville and the fabulous Jessica Day George:

"Boy, do readers have a treat in store for them! Funny, scary, and endlessly inventive, this is the kind of book I would have adored as a kid." -- Bruce Coville, author of Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher

"A perfect combination of adventure, humor, and pure imagination!" -- Jessica Day George, New York Times best-selling author of the Tuesdays at the Castle series

Coming November 2015!!!!!


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Sunday, March 01, 2015

Announcing THE QUEENS OF RENTHIA Trilogy!

I am so very, very excited to announce that I've sold a new trilogy of books for adults!!!  An epic fantasy trilogy!!!!!!!!!!!  In the biggest book deal of my career to date!  Series title is THE QUEENS OF RENTHIA and they will be published by HarperCollins / Voyager in 2016 and 2017.  Here's the announcement from this week's Publishers Weekly Book Deals:

Durst Delivers 'Queens' to Harper

In a three-book deal, Harper Voyager's David Pomerico preempted world rights to Sarah Beth Durst's fantasy trilogy, the Queens of Renthia. Durst, who was represented by Andrea Somberg at Harvey Klinger, said the series is set in a world "where everything in nature has a spirit -- and where those spirits are bloodthirsty killers who seek the death of all humans." Book one, The Queen of Blood, is set for a fall 2016 publication. Durst has written a number of fantasy novels for children and adults, including the YA title Chasing Power (Bloomsbury) and the adult title The Lost (Mira), both published in 2014.

I am doing a serious Snoopy dance of joy right now, complete with Muppet flailing arms and high-pitched squeals:  

As mentioned in the PW announcement, Renthia is a world where everything has a spirit: the willow tree with leaves that kiss the pond, the stream that feeds the river, the wind that exhales fresh snow...  But these are not the sweet, frolicking nature sprites from a pastoral tale.  The spirits that reside within this land want to kill all humans, the way white blood cells want to kill a virus.  Only a few women are gifted with the power to control the spirits.  To defend their people, these women must fight to become queens... or die trying.

Tentative titles and publication dates are:

Book 1: THE QUEEN OF BLOOD -- October 2016
Book 2: THE RELUCTANT QUEEN -- February 2017
Book 3: THE QUEEN OF SORROW -- June 2017

I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am about this trilogy.  I love epic fantasy.  Really, really love it, as in spent an inordinate amount of my childhood pretending that I was a magical sword-wielding princess on a quest, drawing massive maps of nonexistent lands, and reading David Eddings's The Belgariad so many times that Polgara, Silk, and Durnik felt like real people.  So to be writing books born from this tradition...  Let's just say my ten-year-old self would be doing a lot of cartwheeling if she knew.

Right now, I'm in the middle of writing book one, and I am loving working on it so much.  It feels exactly like writing is supposed to feel, as if I have plunged through a portal into another world.  I feel so incredibly lucky and thrilled and overjoyed, and I can't wait to welcome you to Renthia and share this world's stories and people with you!

Just don't try to visit Renthia in person, because those trees... they'll totally kill you.

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