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Bri Meets Books

Children's and YA literature reviews.

sarah-photoToday I’ve got an interview with Sarah Beth Durst, author of Into the Wild, Out of the Wild, and IceIce came out a few weeks ago, and I absolutely loved it.  You can read my review here.  I have a brand-new copy of Ice in hardback from Simon and Schuster to giveaway. You’ll find details after the interview.

This is your third fairy tale book. To you, what’s the appeal of fairy tales, and why do you think they remain such staples of children’s and adult literature?

I think that part of the appeal of fairy tales both as a writer and as a reader is that they are empty. You have stock characters (the princess, the animal husband, the witch, the troll…) in universal situations, and so you are free to imagine their motivations and their personalities and their lives. Fairy tales feel to me like the paper dolls of stories — it’s fun to dress them up.

Also… true love! Adventure! Dragons! Talking bears! What’s not to like?

The depiction of nature is so rich and descriptive in Ice, it’s almost as nature itself is a character. Were any of the non-Arctic scenes inspired by places you were familiar with, or had traveled to? If you could visit any part of the world, right now, all-expenses paid, where would it be, and why?

I’ve never been north of Toronto, and I most likely never will be. (I’m not exactly an adventurous traveler. My idea of a wild and crazy vacation is visiting Epcot BEFORE visiting Magic Kingdom.) But I think Alaska, northern Canada, and the Arctic are among the most magical and beautiful places on Earth.

One of the best parts about being a writer is that you get to visit places through your writing that you’ll never go in real life. To write ICE, I buried myself in books about the Arctic (nature guides, polar bear books, explorers’ memoirs…), and so I was able to visit the Arctic vicariously through Cassie.

As far as places to visit… Epcot AND Magic Kingdom. I love Disney World. It’s so very clean.

iceYou write primarily for the YA market. With fairy tales always a hot topic in picture books, would you consider writing the juice-box set? If so, would it be a retelling or a traditional fairy tale?

Sure, I’d consider it. I don’t have any current plans to, but I wouldn’t rule it out. I know I always want to write fantasy. I think fantasy is an extremely important type of literature because it’s about adding magic to the world, adding a sense of wonder. Everyone needs more wonder in their lives.

You always write such strong female characters in your novels. Who’s your favorite heroine, from book, film, or television? Why?

Keladry from the Protector of the Small quartet by Tamora Pierce. She kicks butt, and she doesn’t whine.

Where would you rather live.. in a palace made of chocolate (with a clause it’s guaranteed not to melt) or in one made of ice?

I love my ice castle in ICE. I loved writing about it and imagining living in it, but in reality if I were in a castle made of ice, I know I’d slip and fall a billion times a day. I’m way too much of a klutz. Chocolate, though… I always write with chocolate near me. It’s the closest I have to a muse. So I think I’d have to choose the chocolate castle both for the sake of my writing and for the sake of my personal safety.

What advice would you give an aspiring writer tackling a fairy tale retelling?

Have fun. Find the parts of the story that capture your imagination and excite you and follow those parts wherever they lead (even if they lead you east of the sun and west of the moon).

On your blog, you write about obscure fairy tales, such as “The Giant Who Had No Heart in His Body.” Inspired by that page, come up your own silly title of a fairy tale.

The Princess Who Didn’t Want to Wait (the tale of Sleeping Beauty’s less sleepy sister)

What’s the most challenging thing about being a writer? What’s the most rewarding thing?

The most challenging thing is writing that first draft. It is (pretty much by definition) the opposite of polished prose so you need to shut off your inner editor and plough through it. Once you have the first draft, then you can begin the fun part: revising and bringing your vision to life.

The most rewarding thing is when writing is going well and the words are flowing, you can feel your imagination coming to life through your fingertips. That’s an awesome feeling.

Describe yourself in three words.

Happy, curly-haired writer.

You consider Star Wars the best fairy tale and movie of all time. Who’s your favorite character? Which side would you be on? What color would your light saber be?

I’d have to pick R2-D2 because he quietly and efficiently kicks butt in all six movies. If I were in the Star Wars world, I hope I’d be a Jedi. (Honestly, though, I’d probably be some random background character — I’m not nearly coordinated enough to be a Jedi.)

If I were a Jedi, I’d request a blue light saber. My favorite colors are pink and blue, and I think a pink light saber would just look ridiculous.

If you could have a pet of any magical creature from your books, which would it be?

Ramoth from Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey. I want a telepathic dragon. Seriously, who wouldn’t? I’d also love Faithful from Alanna by Tamora Pierce and the Disreputable Dog from Lirael by Garth Nix because they are smart, funny, and cuddly.

If you could live inside any children’s book, which title would it be and why?

If I could live inside any children’s book… Actually, I’m rather glad that I don’t. I like my life as it is. 🙂

A big thank you to Sarah for coming up with awesome answers to my questions!   I’ve also done a  review of her first book, Into the Wild.

Visit her website at, and be sure to check out her Fairy Tale page, where she spotlights obscure fairy tales.  Also her author page @ Simon and Schuster. You can also read the first two chapters of Ice!

Now the contest..

Simply comment with your name, email to enter! US/Canada only, please. PO Boxes allowed. I will draw a winner via on November 12.

Extra entries:

+ 1 comment on my review of Ice

+ 1 Tweet this contest (leave your @name, link to the tweet) in the comments

Happy entering!


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