The Lost by Sarah Beth Durst – Author Interview

the Lost Sarah Beth Durst

The Lost by Sarah Beth Durst


Lost your way?

Your dreams?


Welcome to Lost.

It was supposed to be a small escape. A few hours driving before turning around and heading home. But once you arrive in Lost… well, it’s a place you really can’t leave. Not until you’re Found. Only the Missing Man can send you home. And he took one look at Lauren Chase and disappeared.

So Lauren is now trapped in the town where all lost things go — luggage, keys, dreams, lives — where nothing is permanent, where the locals go feral and where the only people who don’t want to kill her are a handsome wild man called the Finder and a knife-wielding six-year-old girl. The only road out of town is engulfed by an impassable dust storm, and escape is impossible….

Until Lauren decides nothing — and no one — is going to keep her here anymore.


Praise for The Lost:

“This exuberant fantasy is finely crafted, filled with humor and very moving.” — Kirkus

“In her highly imaginative and jarring adult debut, YA star Durst (Vessel, 2012) pushes readers out of their comfort zones and into a slow-brewing, increasingly exciting, and deeply provocative fantasy world.” — Booklist

Author Sarah Beth Durst

Author Sarah Beth Durst

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.




5 Books That Made You Want To Become A Writer

I was ten years old when I decided I wanted to become a writer.  I actually remember the exact moment: I was talking to my dad, and I was really concerned that I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life.  I was ten years old, after all.  Double digits.  Gotta make plans.  (Yes, I was a wee bit of a worrier.)  He said, “Well, you’re creative.  You could be an interior designer, a writer, an investment banker…”  I latched onto the word “writer” and didn’t hear the rest of the list.  I’d always thought books were magic, but it simply hadn’t occurred to me that an ordinary person could become a writer.


At this time, I was reading a lot of fantasy books, mostly ordinary-girl-defeats-massive-evil books, such as:


ALANNA by Tamora Pierce


ARROWS OF THE QUEEN by Mercedes Lackey


THE BLUE SWORD by Robin McKinley


I remember thinking, “If Alanna can become a knight, if Harimad-Sol can defeat an army, if Talia can become a Herald… then I can become a writer.”  And I knew those were the kinds of stories I wanted to tell: magical stories that make the world feel more wonderful and make you feel stronger.


5 Pieces of Advice You Have for Aspiring Writers

1. Learn what works for you — Every writer has a different process.  Some outline; some don’t.  Some get tons of ideas; some have to wrestle slivers of ideas out of the darkest corners of their brain.  Some revise as they go along; some dash through the story then revise heavily later.  Some write a little every day; some write in intense bursts then take breaks.  If a technique doesn’t work for you, don’t beat yourself up about it.  Just try something else.  Once you do find what works for you, I promise that writing will get easier and faster.


2. Don’t be too critical too early — Books don’t spring onto the shelf fully formed like Athena out of Zeus’s head.  First, ow.  Second, not possible.  Books need to grow, and they can’t grow if you’re constantly yanking them out of the ground to see if their roots have spread yet.  Give yourself permission to write badly.  Give yourself permission to play and experiment and to write scenes and characters that seem to go nowhere and prose the plods rather than soars.


To use yet another metaphor… sometimes writing a novel is like cleaning out a closet.  You have to make a mess first, see what’s inside, and then you can weed out what you want to keep and what you don’t and put it all into some semblance of reasonable order.


So be kind to yourself.  Make a mess.  And then see what happens.


3. Don’t wait until you have enough time — It’s very tempting to say, “I’ll write when I have more time.”  Or “I can’t write unless I have a free uninterrupted afternoon.”  Or whatever.  Fact is that enough free time is a myth.  Everyone’s busy.  Everyone’s always busy.  You have to find time, make time, carve out time, steal time…  If you want to write, do it now.  Even if it’s only three sentences a day.  If you do three sentences a day, eventually they’ll add up into a story.  But if you do none and wait for that mythical chunk of free time… then you run the very real risk of never writing.


4. Write every day — This is one of those bits of advice that works for some people and not for others.  But for me, it really works.  It keeps the words flowing.


If you sit down and say, “Today I’m going to write my NOVEL,” that can be intimidating.  But if you say, “I’m going to string a few sentences together, like I did yesterday”…  Well, that works.  Make writing a habit, so it’s as much of your daily life as brushing your teeth.


5. Write what you love — Everyone always says, “Write what you know.”  I think it should really be, “Write what you love.”  Write the kind of book you want to read.  Write what makes you happy, what makes you laugh, what makes you cry, what makes you feel.  Write a journey that you want to go on.


5 Things That Inspire You

There’s a myth that ideas come as lightning strikes.  And sometimes that’s true.  Sometimes you have a dream, or you’re walking along and BAM, it hits you and you just have to write it.  But lots of times, it doesn’t work like that.  Lots of times you have a little tiny flame of an idea.  And then you have another flame over on the other side of your brain.  And a third somewhere else.  And it’s only when you push them together that there’s enough of a fire to make a story.


Some things that inspire me are:


1. Magical things that I wish would happen, like fairy-tale characters in my hometown.  (This became my book INTO THE WILD.)

2. Places that I wish I could travel to but know I never will, like the Arctic.  (This became ICE.)

3. Things I think are cool, like were-unicorns.  (This became DRINK, SLAY, LOVE.)

4. Questions that capture my imagination, like what if there were a town full of only lost things and lost people?  (This became THE LOST.)

5. Things that I wish I could do, like lift things with my mind.  (This became my next YA novel, CHASING POWER.)


My newest book, THE LOST, actually came from two ideas smashing together: the town of lost things and lost people, and a woman who got in her car to drive to work one day and, instead of going left, drove straight and simply kept driving…



  1. Thanks for the author interview! That was some great advice!