Unicorn Princess or Telekinesis?: Sarah Beth Durst Talks Supernatural Powers
Sarah Beth Durst turns the YA paranormal genre on its head with Conjured, an exciting tale of Eve, a teenage girl with powers that, when used, knock her out and give her creepy carnival nightmares. Throw in a serial killer determined to find her and a boy who wins her heart, and this is one book you don't want to miss. Today, Sarah talks about supernatural powers, and which ones she would — and wouldn't — want to possess.
When I was ten years old, I asked my mother for a stack of index cards. I had decided that I wanted to be a writer. (Before that, I wanted to be either Wonder Woman or a Unicorn Princess.) And I wanted the index cards for inventing characters.
Squirreling myself away in my room, I went through the phone book, wrote down every interesting name I could find (one per card), and then proceeded to assign them all magical powers.
And now, many years later … I'm still doing that, inventing people and giving them powers.
For my new YA novel Conjured, I took that to the extreme and gave my protagonist Eve tons of bizarre powers. Like this one:
Eve raised her hand toward the birds on the wall. “Fly,” she whispered.
The birds detached from the wallpaper.
The air filled with rustling and crinkling as the paper birds fluttered their delicate wings. At first they trembled, but then they gained strength. Circling the room, they rose higher toward the ceiling. They spiraled up and around Eve’s head. She reached her arms up, and the birds brushed past her fingers. She felt their paper feathers, and she smiled.
Then she heard a rushing like a flood of water, and a familiar blackness filled her eyes.
She can also fly, walk through walls, change her eye color, etc. … but every time she uses her powers, she blacks out and experiences nightmarish visions of a creepy carnival. She has no idea why she has these visions. In fact, she has no idea who she even is. She has zero memories. All she knows is what she's been told: that she's in the paranormal witness protection program and that a magic-wielding serial killer is hunting her.
While I was writing Eve's story, I spent a lot of time imagining what it would be like to have her powers, and what power I'd want if I could have one. And by "a lot of time," I mean "way too much time."
At first, I thought it would be awesome. Imagine transforming into any creature you want! Imagine flying into the air on a whim!
Except I'm kind of afraid of heights. And what if I changed into a mouse and a cat ate me?
Really, almost all powers have some pretty serious drawbacks.
Shapeshifting — See above re: the cat problem. Plus you could be stuck in a cage. Or experimented on. And if you get the wrong kind of shapeshifting, you could end up nude way too often. And there could be some excruciating bone-crunching pain any time you break the rules of conservation of mass. Really have to read the fine print with this power.
Weather control — Way too much responsibility. And the complaining! Can you imagine having to listen to people complain about the weather all the time and know it's your fault? Certainly you'd never be able to use Twitter. Half the world's tweets are about weather. (The other half are about food, of course.)
Invisibility — People would constantly step on your feet. And run over you with their cars.
Fire-starting — I fail to see the usefulness of this unless you love camping.
Flying — Power lines.
Telekinesis — Okay, so the power of moving things with your mind would be fun. Of course, if I did have telekinesis, I'd end up feeling constantly guilty for not using it to save the world on a daily basis. Also, see above re being experimented on.
So after careful consideration, the power that I would choose is this: I would want the power to make everyone I love happy and healthy.
Or if that’s not available, sign me up for Unicorn Princess!
- Sarah Beth Durst