SF Reader – Q&A with Robert Beatty, author of Willa of the Wood and the Serafina Book Series
1. What inspires your writing the most?
I’m the father of three girls, so I enjoy writing stories for them and with them about brave and unusual girls with heroic hearts. In the Serafina Book Series and in my new book, Willa of the Wood, my heroines are strong, highly capable girls who are striving to find themselves and their place in the world.
2. Where did you get your main inspiration for Willa from?
There were several different forms of inspiration. Mainly, I was interested in telling 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. 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.
3. How old were you when you started writing?
When I was 11 years old, my mother gave me a typewriter to tinker with and occupy my time because I had read all the books in the house. I started using the typewriter to write my own novels, and I’ve been writing ever since. Forty years after writing those first stories as a young boy, I had my first published novel, Serafina and the Black Cloak.
4. What author or authors have had the most effect on you?
I’ve always loved medieval fantasy stories and authors like J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. The Book of Merlin and The Once and Future King by T.H. White were some of my favorites when I was a child. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed reading Jane Austen, Ernest Hemingway and Charles Dickens, and the spooky and strange short stories of Edgar Allan Poe (“The Raven“, “The Tell-Tale Heart“, “Cask of Amontillado“) and Ambrose Bierce (“An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge“).
5. Do you prefer writing short pieces or longer, book-length, pieces?
I definitely prefer writing novels over short stories. I’ve written a few short stories and creative nonfiction pieces, but I started out writing novels and that’s what I most enjoy.
6. If you could have dinner with one of your characters, who would it be and what sort of food would you have?
I would have dinner with Willa and Nathaniel in Nathaniel’s house from Willa of the Wood. We would eat a selection of natural foods (berries, leaves, roots, etc.) that Willa collected for us from the forest, along with some “lumps” (what Willa calls cookies) baked from the flour of Nathaniel’s mill.Share