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Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Author Interview: Rick Riordan

There have been many wonderful opportunities that I have come my way since I became a blogger. This really is the cherry on top of the coconut cake (my favourite by the way).

If you don't know how much I love The Olympians, I guess you've been held prisoner by Lord Hades for the last year. So it the guise of a mega fan and Percy Jackson addict, I bring to you an author interview with the one and only Rick Riordan. You might get a few clues about the level of my fandom... and a little insight into The Lost Hero. Cue squealing!!!

On Percy Jackson

The Bookette: I think it is fair to say that Percy Jackson has a huge following. He appeals to adults, teens and tweens everywhere. What would you say is the secret ingredient that makes Percy so popular? I would say it is the very believable teenage voice. Do you agree?

Rick Riordan: I always imagine reading the books to my own classroom. I try to keep the story moving, inject plenty or humor and action, and keep things relevant for modern kids. I hope they learn a lot without ever feeling like they're in school. That was my goal as a classroom teacher, and it's still my goal as a writer. Also, I read each book to my two sons, and they are great editors. They let me know right away if a section is too slow, or if my jokes aren't funny! If the voice is believable, it’s probably because I read the manuscripts aloud.

The Bookette: The Greek Gods are to use your words “alive and kicking”. Which God or Goddess is your favourite and why?

Rick Riordan: No surprise: Poseidon and Athena. I’ve always been drawn to the power of the ocean, and Athena always strike me as the most helpful goddess.

The Bookette: How do you feel about fan fiction and RPG forums based on your books? Would you ever dare to read them?

Rick Riordan: I am of course aware of fan fiction but I never go near it. For copyright reasons, I can’t really do anything that would appear to endorse other people writing about my characters, and I certainly wouldn’t want someone saying, ‘Hey, you took my Percy Jackson idea!’ I suppose I’m honored people like the series so much, but I also find fan fiction a little unsettling. It’s like watching other people parade around in my clothes.

On The Kane Chronicles

The Bookette: How does it feel to be writing a series that is not The Olympians? Do you feel any pressure from fans (like me) because of the popularity of Percy Jackson?

Rick Riordan: Everything must have an ending, including Percy Jackson, and I knew that if I tried to write the same novels with Percy Jackson again and again until I died, it wouldn’t work. The quality would suffer and I would get bored. The readers would end up being disappointed. I was excited to try something new, and Egypt has timeless appeal. It was a refreshing challenge to tackle a mythology that is not as well known. Of course I knew fans would be comparing it to Percy Jackson, but I couldn’t let myself worry about that. I just tried to make it different enough, without losing the elements that fans like about my stories – action, humor, magic, mythology.

The Bookette: Sadie and Carter are a great double act. They have perfected the sibling rivalry thing to a fine art. Did you make a conscious choice to write about a sibling team? Did you draw on your personal experiences?

Rick Riordan: The sibling dynamic is something many children can relate to. I liked the idea of having two narrators constantly bickering and correcting each other. I was raised an only child, but I taught many, many families. Sadie and Carter are based loosely on an actual brother and sister I taught many years ago in San Francisco.

The Bookette: I’m assuming that you had to research the Egyptian Gods as background for The Kane Chronicles. Can you tell us an interesting fact or two that you found out through your research?

Rick Riordan: I read a ton of books for my research. I thought I knew Egypt before. I was wrong! The most interesting fact was the existence of the House of Life. I had no idea the Egyptians had a school of magic five thousand years before Hogwarts. It was great fun bringing Egyptian magic to life, and everything in the books – spells, gods, magic items – is all based on my research.

On The Lost Hero

The Bookette: I cannot wait for the release of The Lost Hero. In fact I want to dance around the house just thinking about the moment I get it in my hands. Can you tell me anything, anything at all about what I can expect? The tiniest snippet or a little insight into one of the characters?

Rick Riordan: Well, the first two chapters were just released at www.percyjackson.co.uk The password is ‘newhero.’ That will give a pretty good introduction to the characters. As many readers have speculated, the prophecy at the end of The Last Olympian plays an important role in the new series. Past that, I’m afraid the details must remain secret!

On life as a writer

The Bookette: Are there any writers who inspire you? Or that you aspire to be like?

Rick Riordan: I was inspired most by J.R.R. Tolkien when I was young. I also loved Roald Dahl, C.S. Lewis, E.B. White, and Edward Gorey. There are many writers who still inspire me today. Obviously J.K. Rowling is amazing, but also Suzanne Collins, Jonathan Stroud, Jeff Kinney, Michael Scott, Eoin Colfer, the list goes on and on.

I read on the Puffin website that your most treasured possession is your first rejection letter. Please explain why this means so much to you.

It reminds me where I’ve come from, and how hopeless I felt when I was first rejected. It was a very long road to getting published, and an even longer road before I became successful enough to write full-time. It reminds me to be grateful and appreciate what I have. I was a kid who dreamed of being published at 15. Many kids dream of that. It’s a fine dream to have, but you also have to be prepared for a long difficult journey. Becoming a writer is usually not a sprint!

The Bookette: Please describe your life as a writer in three words:

Rick Riordan: Revise, revise, revise.

The Bookette: And finally, as a very English lady I do love a cup of tea. I ask every writer when I get the chance to tell me if they have a favourite biscuit and if so, which one?

Rick Riordan: Being American, I think of buttermilk or sourdough biscuits with gravy, but I doubt those would go with afternoon tea. I enjoy a good currant scone, though I try to go easy on the sweet treats!

The Bookette: Rick, thank you so much for indulging my inner fan. Good luck with the worldwide release of The Lost Hero (not that you'll need it).
A note to my hubby: If I do not get to go to Mr Riordan's UK signing, there will be a Zeus worthy tempest rising in our house!

Rick will be signing at Waterstones Bluewater, Saturday 6th November, 12.00 pm

The Lost Hero is released worldwide 12th October 2010! Woo hoo!


Melissa said...

I love love love Rick Riordan's writing...I truly do! Great interview and feature. This was so much fun to read! :)

So Many Books, So Little Time said...

Wow, you really are a fan aren't you? :) I loved The Red Pyramid and you've made me really excited to read Percy too.

Love the note to your husband! I hope you get to go!

Library Mice said...

Well done, what a great think to do! I was sorry not to get to see him when he came to Bath KidslitFest a few years ago.

Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

This is an awesome interview, with great questions that provide good, detailed answers. Now that I read the interview, I feel compelled to read about Percy Jackson. Shame on me, but I haven't read the books yet. I want to, but I keep putting them off.
Yay, Poseidon and Athena are my favourite gods too! That is so cool. And I like his incluences: Tolkien, Lewis... Wonderful.
Truly, great interview, I enjoyed it very much and it heightened my interested in Percy Jackson.

Caroline said...

What a cool interview!!
I really didn't notice you being a fan at all ;)
I love Athena myself, she is ace :)
I have the first Percy Jackson here and I should definitely read them soon!!

Splendibird said...

This is an excellent interview. I love Percy Jackson and enjoyed The Red Pyramid. I have been promised that a review copy of The Lost Hero will be winging it's way to me shortly but I can't think of it too much as I get all excited and have to lie down. Great post!

Christina/Book Addict said...

Wow! What a fantastic opportunity for you to interview him. I am definitely going to share this with my students. I love that you ask authors about their favorite biscuits....nice touch...it made me laugh! :)
I haven't read the Red Pyramid yet, but my students LOVED it. I really need to pick that one up! Thanks for this great interview, Becky!

Dwayne said...

Holy... wow! Rick Riordan! You rock, Becky! What a fun interview, verrah conversational and comfy! :))

Becky said...

Melissa, it is an absolute pleasure. I love connecting with fellow fans.

Sophie, I am pleased to say my hubby has said he will indeed take me to the signing. I don't like driving the motorway hence I can't take myself. I was dancing around the kitchen last night because I was so excited.

Library Mice, thanks. I wonder if I will be completely tonguetied when I get my books signed. Probably.

Irena, I'm glad you liked the questions. It really took me a long time to put them together and get over my star struck phase. Hope you read Percy. He really is such a great character.

Caroline, hell yes you must read. You will love the female characters of Annabeth and Clarisse. They are kick-butt awesome.

Splendibird, exciting isn't it. Less than a month to go now!!!

Christina, please do share this with your students. This is me as a true fan and not really a sensible blogger person. I am a Percy addict. Good to hear they are loving The Red Pyramid. I am thinking of posting some picks of the library copies. They are falling apart already! This can only be a good thing.

Dwayne, why thank you. It is a little special when you get to connect with authors you loved for ages before becoming a blogger. And glad you liked the tone.

Thanks for stopping by everyone.

Lauren said...

Such a fun interview! It's great to see the enthusiasm in your questions, and the answers were totally entertaining. I am definitely missing out on this series, right? I should try the Percy Jackson books.