Director Chris Columbus previews own fantasy novel for teens

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Earlier this afternoon Chris Columbus, director of the first two Harry Potter films, gave an appearance in Winnetka, Illinois at The Book Stall, where he read an excerpt from his upcoming children’s fantasy novel, House of Secrets. Co-written with young adult author Ned Vizzini (The Other Normals, It’s Kind of a Funny Story), House of Secrets will be released this coming Tuesday, April 23, 2013.

From the Amazon description:
Brendan, Eleanor, and Cordelia Walker once had everything: two loving parents, a beautiful house in San Francisco, and all the portable electronic devices they could want. But everything changed when Dr. Walker lost his job in the wake of a mysterious incident. Now in dire straits, the family must relocate to an old Victorian house that used to be the home of occult novelist Denver Kristoff-a house that feels simultaneously creepy and too good to be true.

By the time the Walkers realize that one of their neighbors has sinister plans for them, they’re banished to a primeval forest way off the grid. Their parents? Gone. Their friends? A world away. And they aren’t alone. Bloodthirsty medieval warriors patrol the woods around them, supernatural pirates roam the neighboring seas, and a power-hungry queen rules the land. To survive, the siblings will have to be braver than they ever thought possible-and fight against their darkest impulses. The key may lie in their own connection to the secret Kristoff legacy. But as they unravel that legacy, they’ll discover it’s not just their family that’s in danger . . . it’s the entire world.

At today’s event, Columbus revealed,

“One of the reasons Ned and I wanted to write this book was that we designed it in a sort of cliff-hanger sort of way. This is kind of like pulp fiction, back in the 40’s and 50’s they used to write these books – serialized novels – like Doc Savage, and The Avenger, and they would end with a cliff hanger. Each chapter would end with a cliffhanger and you would be forced to read more… kids ate them up. So we thought that if we could end each chapter with a cliffhanger and have kids not be able to put this down, when they finished the book they’d say “I really liked that book; I want to read something else.” And maybe they’d pick up Ray Bradbury short stories or H.P. Lovecraft, or even the person who originated the idea of a serialized novel which is Charles Dickens. So we’re trying to create a love of reading. My wife and I spend a lot of our time in book stores, it’s a big part of our lives. And so, to now have this in book stores is really a grand achievement.”

The book, which spans nearly 80 chapters and 490 pages, is the first of a planned trilogy. MuggleNet will be reviewing the book later this week. More information can be found in this article from the L.A. Times, or in this blog.

Photo credit: Jeanna Marie

Eric S.

Eric Scull joined MuggleNet in November of 2002. Since that time he’s presided over a number of sections including name origins and Dear Hogwarts, but none so long as the Crazy Caption Contest, which is recently revived. Eric is a hufflepuff who lives in Chicago and loves the outdoors.