With his Serafina book series, Asheville author and father of three Robert Beatty has woven a magical tale, set at the historic Biltmore estate, that's captivated readers around the world.
First came "Serafina and the Black Cloak," followed last summer by "Serafina and the Twisted Staff." This July, the third book, "Serafina and the Splintered Heart," will come out.
Beatty will share a preview of the third book, at 2 p.m., Sunday, at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh. This will be the first-ever public reading of the upcoming book for an audience in North Carolina.
Beatty will be there to answer questions, read from the book and sign the first two books in the series. There also will be refreshments. To get in the signing line, you'll need to pre-order "Splintered Heart," from Quail Ridge. The books are best for ages 9 and up.
I checked in with Beatty to learn more about the series, the upcoming book, whether we might see Serafina on the big screen and the new series he's working on. Here's a Q&A:
Go Ask Mom: Did you ever expect there would be more than one book - and that it would take off like it has?
Robert Beatty: I certainly hoped that there would be more than one book, but you just never know. What I did know was that Serafina had many more adventures in her than could be contained in one book.
GAM: You've said before that it's been a long process to get published and you weren't always writing for kids. Did you ever think about giving up? What kept you motivated?
RB: I’ve always loved to read and write. As a child, I was an avid reader. I loved the stories of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Charles Dickens and T.H. White. I began writing my own stories at the age of 11, when my mother gave me a typewriter to tinker with, and I've been writing ever since. There have been many struggles and unpublished work along the way, but I never gave up on writing because I love the process.
GAM: What is it about the Biltmore that makes it a great setting for your books?
RB: My family and I live very close to Biltmore, and we visit there often. It’s a place filled with history, beauty and a sense of mystery. I enjoy exploring its rooms and corridors. I envision all the stories — both realistic and imaginative — that could take place there. I think people really yearn for stories about places they love, and I’m definitely not alone in loving Biltmore.
GAM: What do you think really captivates readers about the Serafina books?
RB: I’m the father of three girls, so I’m especially interested in strong, young female characters. I wanted to write stories that would engage them and keep them on the edge of their seats. Serafina is flawed and relatable, a bold and clever girl with a good heart. One minute she’s innocent and frightened, and the next as fierce as can be. She possesses so many traits that young people, my daughters included, can relate to.
GAM: Can you share a few details about the next book, which comes out in July?
RB: The next book, Serafina and the Splintered Heart, is the third in the Serafina series. It’s set for release on July 3. In the new book, Serafina finds herself in a darkness that she doesn’t understand and soon learns that life at Biltmore has changed in unimaginable ways. She must battle fiercely to defend all she loves and become everything that she is meant to be.
GAM: What's next for the Serafina series after July? Are there more books? There has been talk - perhaps mostly wishful thinking? - about a movie!
RB: There’s lots of interest in and discussion about a Serafina movie, but no definite plans yet. If the third book is as successful as the first two, perhaps a movie will follow. We’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, I’ll be working on another four books for Disney Hyperion, including a new middle-grade mystery duology about a 12-year-old “forest spirit” named Willa. The first Willa book will publish in summer 2018, with the second to follow in 2019.
Editor's note: Check out the book trailers for the first two Serafina books. There is plenty of fodder for a pretty amazing movie!