Inspirations and Influences

THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM: Sarah Beth Durst on Inspirations & Influences

“Inspirations and Influences” is a series of articles in which we invite authors to write guest posts talking about their Inspirations and Influences. In this feature, we invite writers to talk about their new books, older titles, and their writing overall.

Today’s guest is Smuggler-fave Sarah Beth Durst to talk about her new MG novel, The Girl Who Could Not Dream.

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Give a warm welcome to Sarah Beth, everyone!

I hate when I forget my dreams. Okay, yes, if it’s a boring missed-the-train dream or I-can’t-find-the-bathroom dream, I’m fine with forgetting it. But sometimes I have these fantastic dreams where I’m riding a dragon. Or escaping from aliens. Or befriending griffins.

Once, I dreamed I was Cindy Brady’s imaginary friend. That was my oddest, most vivid dream.

When I have a particularly good dream, I smack my alarm clock, lie still, and try to fix the dream in my mind. They’re slippery, though — the second I start wondering if I left the laundry in the dryer or if I should wear the jeans with holes in the knee or without (hint: the answer depends on whether I’ll be seeing any non-family people that day), the memory of my dream slips away like a fish through a stream.

Even when I manage to remember a dream, it changes. My conscious mind tries to make it make a little more sense. Or be a little more exciting. Or it adds bits or subtracts bits or accidentally loses bits… I often find myself wishing I could capture my dreams, bottle them up and save them to dream again later…

And that’s exactly where the idea for my new book, THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM, came from.

Sophie’s family owns a secret dream shop where they buy, bottle, and sell dreams. Her best friend, a loyal and cupcake-loving monster named Monster, came to life after Sophie drank a bottled monster-in-the-closet dream.

I guess you could say this book started as a kind of wish fulfillment. I wanted my own bottled dreams. And I wanted my own Monster. But I realized as I was writing that the very act of writing this story was, in fact, me bottling a dream.

Books are bottled dreams.

This thought hit me so hard that I ended up writing it into the book itself:

“All her life, Sophie had been taught that books are precious. Each one holds people and worlds. Each one is a piece of someone’s heart and mind that they chose to share. They were shared dreams.”

This book is my dream, complete with a sarcastic cupcake-loving monster and pink ninja bunnies, and I am so excited to share it!

GirlCover_HiResSophie loves the hidden shop below her parents’ bookstore, where dreams are secretly bought and sold. When the dream shop is robbed and her parents go missing, Sophie must unravel the truth to save them. Together with her best friend—a wisecracking and fanatically loyal monster named Monster—she must decide whom to trust with her family’s carefully guarded secrets. Who will help them, and who will betray them?

The Girl Who Could Not Dream by Sarah Beth Durst is out now.


  • Kim Aippersbach
    November 5, 2015 at 10:44 am

    Sarah Beth Durst is a great writer, and this book has a great premise! She describes dreams so well, the way it’s so hard to hold on to them. (I had this dream last night, and as I was dreaming it I knew it would make an excellent plot. There were these bad guys, and a house, and we were hiding, and we had to catch an airplane and . . . bother! The details I remember don’t add up to the intense feeling I remember.)

  • Abigail Stoetzner
    January 29, 2018 at 6:17 pm

    I enjoyed reading how Sarah Durst came up with the idea of her book The Girl Who Could Not Dream. I understand how she feels. The book is VERY, VERY, VERY good. I love how Sarah was able to capture a normal middle school girl’s life and give it a twist. It’s AMAZING how she is able to describe events in the book. It has really good vocabulary words to learn too.

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