A book marketing effort like few others in author Beatty’s ‘Serafina’ series

A scene from the filming of a book trailer for "Serafina and the Splintered Heart," the third in the young adult "Serafina" series by Asheville author Robert Beatty./ photo by Jason Sandford


Asheville author Robert Beatty is masterminding a massive marketing effort around his young adult “Serafina” mystery series.

Beatty recently wrapped about a week-long video shoot for a video that will serve as a book trailer for the third book in his series, which started in 2015 with Serafina and the Black Cloak, was followed with Serafina and the Twisted Staff and returns this summer with Serafina and the Splintered Heart. The new book will officially hit store shelves on July 3.

The video shoot for the Serafina and the Splintered Heart transformed the small ballroom atop Battery Park Apartments into an old-school, candle-lit dance party. Asheville filmmaker Paul Bonesteel of  Bonesteel Films supervised the shoot, which included about a dozen practiced ballroom dancers, as well as a group of extras.

The ballroom scene culminated several days of filming around Asheville, including a green-screen shoot at Beatty’s 3,000-square-foot timber-frame home on Cane Creek Road. The house is also where Beatty writes. (He’s married; he and his wife, Jennifer, have three daughters; his daughter Genevieve plays Serafina in the most recent book trailer.)

Authors and publishing companies have gotten increasingly creative with book marketing in recent years as social media marketing has gained traction. Beatty’s shot a book trailer with each release. He’s held readings and signings, as well, and recently staged a candle-lit pre-release party at the Asheville Masonic Temple for Serafina and the Splintered Heart.

During a break in the video shoot, Beatty told me that he never dreamed he would be producing videos when he started writing his books. But “the videos spark the imagination” of many young people considered “reluctant readers,” Beatty said, adding that he favors anything that can move children to read.

The Biltmore Estate, as well as the mountains of Western North Carolina, provide the setting for the mystery series aimed at young readers. The books, published by Disney-Hyperion, have been well-received.


Beatty is a lifelong writer who also happened to be a successful entrepreneur and engineer who pioneered cloud computing technology with a company called Plex. He went on to establish a robotics company before leaving the corporate world to be closer with his wife, who was battling cancer. The family moved to Asheville about 10 years ago.

Here’s how Beatty described the green-screen shoot (pictured above) on his book’s Facebook page:

I love this behind-the-scenes photo taken as we were shooting the book trailer for SERAFINA AND THE SPLINTERED HEART, the third book in the Serafina series. In this scene, Braeden Vanderbilt, played by the intrepid Bode Lizerralde, is riding a horse through catastrophic danger (better known as a green screen). The horse trainer/handler, my daughter Camille (a.k.a. Lady Rowena)(in the white shirt on the ground in front of the horse) is staying off camera, but she’s asking the horse to throw back his head and move around based on instructions shouted from the director. The director (white hat) and I (brown shirt) are watching the action through the monitor as the director of photography (dark blue shirt) and the assistant camera operator (light blue shirt) are handling the camera. Three people are acting as grips to make sure the reflector and shades don’t blow over in the wind and fall onto the horse and rider. And a second horse trainer/handler stands by to assist. But the most important performer in the whole operation is our barn cat (a large Siamese-mix named Chase), sitting in front of the green screen, just behind the horse’s feet. As with all cats, he thinks all this is about him and that he’s going to look great on camera. This cat and horse are completely at home with one another. The cat rubs up against the horse’s legs and moves all around the horse without any fear. Photo by Set Photographer Destinee Blau Photography.