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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Interview with Rachel Hartman, author of Seraphina!

By now, you guys know I love Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. I talk about it a lot.
A lot.
And I've been promising you that I'd be talking with you about the sequel, Shadow Scale, for ages now, and it's finally time!
Well, almost.

I promise I will be sharing my thoughts on Shadow Scale soon, as well as giving you a chance to win a copy of your very own, but first, I somehow convinced Rachel to come back and chat with us a for a bit -- How she hasn't run screaming from me by now, I'll never know... -- and let me tell you, there are VERY IMPORTANT THINGS in this interview. *commence tiny freak out*

Check it out below, and then leave some love for Rachel (or your own tiny freak out) in the comments!

Hi, Rachel! Glad you could join us. Were you surprised at all by the reaction to Seraphina? William C Morris award winner, fervent fans who waited (im)patiently for the follow-up, etc? And on that note, have there been any especially weird/memorable/heady moments that took you by surprise (like fan art, etc)?

I always knew Seraphina was a good book, but I’d worked in bookselling long enough to know that good books don’t always find their audiences right away. I’m very pleased that it’s gotten as much attention as it has, and that readers are excited about the sequel. I love all the fan art the book has inspired, and the stories people tell me about the connection they feel to Seraphina’s inner struggle.

A particularly heady moment happened right around the time of the “Ice Bucket Challenge” (remember that? A million years ago, in internet time). The actor Orlando Jones had dumped bullet casings on his head instead of ice, trying to bring attention to the violent deaths of Mike Brown and others, and he was getting some flack for being political. I had quite liked his video, so I tweeted at him, “Thanks for the that video.”

He tweeted back, “Thanks for Seraphina.” He knew who I was. I can tell you, my squee was heard around the world.

[Note from Misty: Whoa.]

I've had a lot of people ask me if I thought this would turn out to be a longer series; if I thought it was open-ended, there were more book coming, potential for more set in the same world, etc. Clearly people don't want to let Seraphina and Goredd go. Though I always let them know that they can get their hands on more of Goredd's stories already, in the form of Amy Unbounded, can you dangle the worm and let us know if there's any chance of more Goreddi stories down the line, or whether they should abandon all hope? 

Goredd has been with me since junior high, and I can’t imagine letting it go. My intention all along -- pending success of these first two books -- has been to write a whole bunch of different books set there, like Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. Even Terry Pratchett sometimes dabbles in non-Discworld books, however, so it’s not impossible that I may want to venture further afield someday, but my heart is in Goredd and it always has been.

[Another note from Misty: funny you should mention Discworld...]

And, I know some authors hate being asked this, because they're like, I just finished this book. Let me wallow in it a bit!, but: what's next for Rachel Hartman? What glorious, amazing thing are you going to make us wait agonizing years for bless us with next? ;)

I am excited to tell you I’ve got two more books coming, set in Goredd but only tangentially related to Seraphina herself. Remember her twin half-sisters from the first book? They’re mentioned only briefly, in a single scene. Well, one of them is going to have some adventures. Seraphina will have a few cameo appearances, and I’m really having fun showing her from her sister’s point of view. Nobody sees your flaws more clearly than a sister, or loves you harder in spite of them.

[One last note from Misty, promise: WHOA.]

If Seraphina was being made into a movie and you could dream-cast any character who would it be, who would play them, and why? 

I have a terrible time with questions like this! I always suspect that the best actors for the job haven’t been discovered yet. However, there was one character who was loosely inspired by a real actor, and that was the Ardmagar Comonot. I was trying to describe his personality to my editor and hit upon the word “Shatneresque.” So yes, I would want William Shatner to play Ardmagar Comonot. I know the late Leonard Nimoy usually gets all the credit for playing the alienated alien, but Shatner, for my money, was always the one who seemed to be trying really hard to be human and just slightly missing the mark.

[Okay, I lied, because here's another note: this is the most perfect response to this question that I think an author has ever given. Shatner as Comonot. Yes. Yes.]

In a recent vlog, I asked viewers if they had any questions for you, and one viewer wanted to know both who your favorite character was to write, and more importantly, what YOU would look like as a dragon. Which I think may just be the best question ever, and I will add to it with: what would you be like as a dragon? 

Y’know, I almost hate to say it, but I really could see myself more as a quigutl (the dragons’ lizardy cousins) than a saar (the winged, flaming, shape-shifting sort of dragon). I’m just not dispassionate enough to fit in with the dragons , and I’m more of a putterer, always scuttling after scraps (of ideas) and building things (out of words) just for the heck of it. I’d like climbing the walls and hiding in crates of cabbages. That scene in Seraphina where the quigutl spin molten glass into a cobwebby lattice and then break it by sitting on it? That’s me all over.

And lastly, the last time we chatted, I was able to obtain video evidence (by the way of you sending me video evidence) of you singing Ye Merry Ole Dragon Tune. Any such silliness you would like to add to the pile of things you remember years down the line with the faint blush of, Oh yeah, remember when I did the thing?

Did you ever see the movie Singin’ in the Rain?  Towards the beginning a reporter asks Don Lockwood (played by Gene Kelly) the secret of his success, and he says, “Dignity. Always dignity.” That is my motto, too, and I reckon I’m exactly as successful at it as Lockwood was. Can’t you just feel the dignity coming off this man in waves:


Well, there you have it, folks, and can I just say (as if I haven't already interjected enough): I KNOW, RIGHT? Who else is super, super excited to see more of Gorredd? *raises hand*

If you haven't already picked up Seraphina, then I really don't know what you're doing with your life (look at your life. Look at your choices.), and you should maybe go correct that now. If you have read Seraphina, then I feel it my duty to inform you that next week, I will be sharing my thoughts on the sequel, Shadow Scale, and giving you a chance to get your hands on a copy, too! Next Tuesday, literally 1 exact week from today (down to the minute), I will be Gorredding in your face all over again, so be there or be...more awkward than a dragon at a rom-com!

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Get It | Add It
Fantasy, 499 pages
Published July 10th 2012 by Random House Books for Young Readers
In her New York Times bestselling and Morris Award-winning debut, Rachel Hartman introduces mathematical dragons in an alternative-medieval world to fantasy and science-fiction readers of all ages. Eragon-author Christopher Paolini calls them, "Some of the most interesting dragons I've read in fantasy."

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

About the Author:

As a child, RACHEL HARTMAN played cello, lip-synched Mozart operas with her sisters, and fostered the deep love of music that inspired much of her award-winning debut novel, SERAPHINA. Born in Kentucky, Rachel has lived in Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, England, and Japan. She now lives with her family in Vancouver, Canada. A New York Times bestseller, Seraphina won the William C. Morris Award, received eight starred reviews, and was named to multiple “best of” lists. To learn more, please visit SeraphinaBooks.com or RachelHartmanBooks.com.


  1. "Nobody sees your flaws more clearly than a sister, or loves you harder in spite of them." I might frame this on my wall. Actually I could frame this whole interview on my wall. It is pure gold! Lovely stuff!

  2. I loved this, so much! It's been so long since I read Serphina, I'm going to have to re-read it before Shadow Scale. It stuck with me, even though I didn't relate to any of the characters on a personal scale, just because of the artistry and the world building (so much so that an upcoming Printcess color is directly influenced/related). And this interview makes me want to be a Hartman devotee. Thanks so much for sharing all that amazing good news, and thanks to Ms. Hartman for her candid responses (and dignity). :)

  3. LOL! Dignity, always dignity....yes!

    So excited about the half-sister story to keep things rolling along.

    Nice interview, ladies!

  4. I loved Seraphina and can't wait for Shadow Scales. We're so close.

  5. I want to draw little neon hearts around this post. I LOVED EVERY SINGLE WORD. Thank you both for making this such a fun and informative read :)

    Also...more stories in Gorredd? SQUEE.

  6. This is such a great interview! I'm marching to my bookstore on Saturday to pick up a copy of Shadow Scale. :D

  7. I absolutely loved "Seraphina," can't wait to read "Shadow Scale," and am thrilled to hear there will be more books set in Goredd. Yippee!

  8. Hearing that she wants to continue to write about Goredd, even if not specifically about Seraphina and Kiggs, has made my day. Discworld Goredd is just the perfect answer! This was a wonderful interview with such thoughtful questions. Thank you!

  9. WAIT WHAT we get to hear more about the twin sisters? SQUEEEEE!

    1. This whole interview is so perfect. I actually squeee'd at all the answers.

  10. Yes, what myriam said. Twin sister book!!!!
    Also, the Shatner answer made me laugh out loud.


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