Sarah Beth Durst grew up in Northboro, MA, a town in central Massachusetts which (she claims) was temporarily transformed into a fairy tale kingdom for several days in 1986. These events later inspired her novel, Into the Wild, as well as her paralyzing fear of glass footwear.
At age 10, she decided she wanted to become a writer. Her first story was a cross between the Wizard of Oz and G.I. Joe. With lions. She wrote a lot more after that without lions, including a stageplay for her senior thesis at Princeton University. Not a single lion in that. But there were dragons. Yes, in a stageplay.
She then spent a year living and writing in Cambridge, England, until the walls of her flat molded from all the rain and she decided to move back to the Northeast. Sarah currently lives in Stony Brook, NY, with her husband, their daughter, and their cat Perni, whose name was Copernicus until they discovered that he was a girl cat.
Post Meeting Write-up
Saturday's Face the Fiction was quite fun. Our guest speaker, Sarah Beth Durst, was delightful - not only did she manage to capture the imagination of the audience, but she also threw in practical tips for aspiring writers.
Ms. Durst began her presentation, as Steve mentioned, by discussing the hows and whys of her becoming a writer, and how her book Into the Wild was published. Her delightful retelling had many in the audience shaking their heads in agreement (particularly about Raisenettes being "healthy" because the raisins balance out the chocolate - lol) and at other times flat out laughing. She then switched over to reading experts from her book Into the Wild that would get to a certain point of suspense and then she'd stop reading! You just had to have that book to know what happens to Julie.
The book, Into the Wild, is about a young girl named Julie who finds out that her mother is actually Rapunzel (yep, of fairytale fame), grandma is a witch and brother is Puss-in-Boots. Everything she knew about fairy tales has become reality. Julie must venture deep into the "Wild" to save her family. This "Wild" though, is more similar to the original adaptations of fairy tales - dark and full of wicked things. Will Julie be strong enough, brave enough to save her family? Ms Durst's readings sure had you wanting to find out. In fact, Remi grabbed a book before we officially took a brief break!
Around 9, we took a break for people to purchase the book, signings, etc. The original display of a dozen books had to be replenished. Of the 35 books, only 4 remained! Ms. Durst also was thoughtful enough to provide beautifully laminated postcards and bookmarks that she gave out - how nice is that. We then gathered everyone back up. Sarah Beth read another chapter from the book involving a Griffin, an ill-fated flight, and our heroine in the middle of the ocean!! After this, the floor was opened up to questions. Hands flew and the variety of questions was great. Some asked about the practical aspects of the writing process - where do you like to write, when do you write, etc. Others asked about inspirations, favorite books/authors, sequels. Sarah Beth answered the questions with the same wit she gave her presentation. We heard how she had envisioned herself in a dramatic beret in a coffee house writing - didn't happen. We then heard about the attempt to write outdoors in the mountains - did you know there are bugs and wind in the great outdoors not conducive to writing?! Ms. Durst provided some very good tips for the aspiring writers - ways to improve your odds of getting published to writing what you love. We wrapped up around 10 with a round of applause for a great guest that we can't wait to have back when her sequel to Into the Wild is out next year.
The majority of us headed over to the diner for food (Liz B headed home - she was tired, and a few others headed home). Close to twenty of us went off to continue the night. Conversation ranged from traffic, Simpson's Movie (Taras almost gave a major spoiler) to everything in between. Taras and I discussed our favorite Buffy episodes (foamy), Chris and Sandy were singing, Bill was taking pictures with that darn phone (incriminating), Aubrey was trying to keep a lid on us, poor Adrian just laughed, and Jim and Steve belied their quiet exteriors when it was revealed that they had bar-hopping, club-hopping pasts - lol. Join us next month when we welcome guest Clayton McNally, SF writer.