BWW Interview: New York Times Best-Selling Author Robert Beatty's new book WILLA OF THE WOOD is out today!

WILLA OF THE WOOD is amazing. Stunning. Beautiful.

It is one of the best books I've read in 2018.

I wasn't expecting it.

I am so, so enamored. I am really excited to review it for you--and I'm still formulating my thoughts, even though I read it over a week ago.

But this book is fantastic. I'm planning to pick up a finished copy today and help it hit the New York Times.

My fingers are already crossed that the Newbery Committee will have it on its radar.

For today, here is an interview I had the absolute honor of doing with the author!

BWW Interview: New York Times Best-Selling Author Robert Beatty's new book WILLA OF THE WOOD is out today!

What was the inspiration behind WILLA OF THE WOOD?

I wanted to tell the story of a forest girl who has such a close, empathic relationship with the natural world that she fears, and has trouble understanding, humans who don't. My family and I live in western North Carolina, near the Great Smoky Mountains. The mountains in this area provide a place of amazing diversity in plant and animal life, majestic forests, a rich and fascinating cultural history, and breathtaking rugged beauty. It's a place I truly love that helped inspire Willa's story.

Your world-building is so elaborate and unique and immersive. How do you go about creating various elements and tying it all together?

It's very important to me to create a world for my characters that is accurate and full of detail. I spend a lot of time in the places that inspire my stories and characters, exploring and observing. For WILLA OF THE WOOD, for example, I spent days with my oldest daughter, Camille, in the heart of Willa's world, the Great Smoky Mountains. We walked among trees and climbed over river rocks, studied ferns and wildflowers, watched salamanders slither and slide and deer graze in the morning sun. We talked about who Willa was going to be, how she was going to see the world, what she was going to love and hate and strive for in her life. I remember writing many of the most important lines of Willa's story sitting beside a mountain stream while Camille took photographs of the magical world around us.

What made you decide to set both books during the Gilded Age? I love the blend of fantasy and history and lore.

The Serafina Series is set in 1899 at the Biltmore Estate mansion, the grand Gilded Age home of George Vanderbilt in Asheville, N.C., where I live. The 250-room house and 8,000-acre estate are open to the public, and I visit often. It's beautiful and fascinating, and the perfect place for cat-like Serafina to prowl about for adventure.

While WILLA OF THE WOOD is set during the same time (1900) as Serafina, the book depicts a very different way of life - that of the forests, the natives who lived there for generations, and the newcomers and the changes they brought, all of which are part of the historical and cultural fabric of the Great Smoky Mountains.

If you were a night spirit, what would your favorite element in nature be?

My favorite element would be the water of the river and the rain. I love the movement of water.

Would you be a wood spirit or a water spirit or something else entirely? (I would be a water spirit!)

If I could be anything in the woodland realm, I would be in some way connected to animals. I especially love hawks, wolves, bobcats, and mountain lions.

What are you working on now?

Lately, I've been very busy gearing up for the launch of my new book, WILLA OF THE WOOD, which is released nationwide today (July 10). We had a huge book launch party in my hometown, Asheville, NC, on Sunday (July 8). It was an awesome celebration, with all sorts of Willa-themed activities and fun, a book signing, tons of fans in attendance, and a great way to kick off Summer Book Tour. I'm on the road a good bit in July, with book tour stops across North Carolina and Tennessee.

After that, I'll dive back into writing. I've begun work on the fourth book in the Serafina Series, scheduled to publish in 2019.

ABOUT ROBERT BEATTY:

Robert Beatty is the author of the #1 New York Times best selling Serafina Series published by Disney-Hyperion, a spooky mystery-thriller about a brave and unusual girl who lives secretly in the basement of the grand Biltmore Estate.


Serafina and the Black Cloak was a #1 New York Times best seller, has been on the list for more than 45 weeks, and won the prestigious 2016 Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize. The second book in the series, Serafina and the Twisted Staff, became a #1 New York Times best seller in the first week of its launch and earned a "Starred Review" from Kirkus Reviews, which said, "Even better than its predecessor, a sequel that delivers nonstop thrills from beginning to end." Enjoyed by both young readers and adults, the books are being taught in over a thousand classrooms nationwide. The third book in the Serafina series comes out in July 2017. Robert Beatty has been awarded an additional four book deal with Disney-Hyperion.


Robert Beatty lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, North Carolina with his wife and three daughters, who help create and refine his stories. He loves to explore Biltmore Estate and the darkened forest trails where his novels take place. He writes full-time now, but in his past lives, Robert was one of the early pioneers of cloud computing, the founder/CEO of Plex Systems, the co-founder of Beatty Robotics, and the chairman/CTO of Narrative Magazine. In 2007, he was named an Entrepreneur of the Year.

ABOUT WILLA OF THE WOOD:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Robert Beatty comes a spooky, thrilling new series set in the magical world of Serafina. ?


Move without a sound. Steal without a trace. ?


Willa, a young nightspirit of the Great Smoky Mountains, is her clan's best thief. She creeps into the homes of day-folk in the cover of darkness and takes what they won't miss. It's dangerous work - the day-folk kill whatever they do not understand. But when Willa's curiosity leaves her hurt and stranded in a day-folk man's home, everything she thought she knew about her people - and their greatest enemy - is forever changed.


With a madcap sense of humor and a lot of heart (not to mention other body parts), this is a story about finding oneself, finding one's friends, and embracing the moment.

WILLA OF THE WOOD was published by Disney-Hyperion on July 10, 2018.

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