Author Spotlight: Sarah Beth Durst

This week marks the pub date of the new middle grade novel from Sarah Beth Durst, The Girl Who Could Not Dream. We wanted to interview the author about her new book, but Sophie—the novel’s twelve-year-old protagonist—wanted to be interviewed instead. And her best friend, a furry monster called Monster, insisted on interviewing her.

MONSTER: Sophie, your first question is . . . How many cupcakes can I eat for dinner?

SOPHIE: Monster! You’re supposed to ask questions about our book!

MONSTER: We wrote a book?!? I love books!

SOPHIE: Sarah Beth Durst wrote a book about us.

MONSTER: Ooh, did she tell everyone how nice my fur is? It’s iridescent black. Isn’t that an excellent word? Iridescent, iridescent, iridescent . . . Also, I hope she made it clear that I do NOT eat small children. Even with ketchup. Or barbecue sauce. Or that extra-spicy mayonnaise . . . But I digress. How do you think she came up with the idea to write our story?

SOPHIE: From dreams. Not a single specific dream, but from the notion of being able to save and relive your dreams. She had the idea of our dream shop, where we distill pure dreams into liquid, then bottle them to sell. Drink the liquid, and you dream the dream. She’s always been kind of obsessed with the ephemeral nature of dreams.

MONSTER: Ooh, good use of the word ephemeral. Where do you think she got the title, The Girl Who Could Not Dream? I mean, it’s nice and all, but I think Monster and the Dream Shop has a better ring to it. Or just Monster in HUGE letters. Or Read This Book: It Has Cupcakes.

SOPHIE: The title comes from me, Monster. You know I can’t dream. I’ve never had a single dream of my own. Not even a clichéd falling dream or a showing-up-to-school-in-only-underwear dream. And I’m not supposed to drink any of the bottled dreams, because if I do, whatever I dream will come to life. I only sipped a dream that one time when I was six . . .

MONSTER: That’s when we met and I came out of your dream! I was from a classic monster-in-the-closet dream. Best dream ever.

SOPHIE: Yes, Monster. You’re the best.

MONSTER: Are you being sarcastic? I think you’re being sarcastic.

SOPHIE: Have a cupcake, Monster.

MONSTER: Murph, murph, mrrrr, mur, murph?

SOPHIE: Chew first.

MONSTER: Gulp. Are you ever sorry you dreamed me to life?

SOPHIE: Never! How can you even ask that? It is hard, though, keeping my family’s secret. I can’t really talk to anyone at school or bring anyone home. I can’t trust anyone. If anyone found out about the dream shop . . . My parents are really, really careful. Only a few buyers and sellers know about us. And none of them knows about me. But sometimes—and please don’t take this personally, Monster—sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have friends.

MONSTER: Why do you think Sarah wrote our story? Do you think she knows someone who came from a dream bottle, like me?

SOPHIE: I think books are dream bottles. They can hold friends. And adventures. They can make you laugh and cry. They can make you go someplace you’ve never gone and be someone you’ve never been. I think she wrote this book to create her own dream bottle that she could then share with other people.

MONSTER: She told you to say that, didn’t she?

SOPHIE: Yeah. But she tells us to say a lot of stuff. She’s the author, you know. Also, she wants me to ask you if she can have that last cupcake.

MONSTER: Let me think about that . . . Murph, mrr, merp. Gulp. Better tell her no.

Click here to read an excerpt and find out more about The Girl Who Could Not Dream and more middle grade picks!