Saturday, March 24, 2007

Interview: Rick Riordan

Rick Riordan is the author of the tremendously successful and fun Percy Jackson and the Olympian Series, which consists of The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, and The Titan's Curse, with two more on the way. Visit him online at He also writes a blog called Myth and Mystery. He took the time from his extremely busy schedule to answer a few of my questions!

How did you get the idea for this series?

My son Haley was studying the Greek myths in second grade when he asked me to tell him some bedtime stories about the gods and heroes. I had taught Greek myths for many years at the middle school level, so I was glad to comply. When I ran out of myths, he was disappointed and asked me if I could make up something new with the same characters.

I thought about it for a few minutes. Then I remembered a creative writing project I used to do with my sixth graders -- I would let them create their own demigod hero, the son or daughter of any god they wanted, and have them describe a Greek-style quest for that hero. Off the top of my head, I made up Percy Jackson and told Haley all about his quest to recover Zeus' lightning bolt in modern day America. It took about three nights to tell the whole story, and when I was done, Haley told me I should write it out as a book.

I had a lot to do already, but I somehow found the time to write the first Percy Jackson book over the next year. I just really enjoyed writing it. The story was such fun, and so different from my adult fiction, that I found myself spending a lot of time on it. Now, I'm sure glad I did!

Which character do you identify with the most?

I should probably say Percy, because he's so heroic, but the truth is I'm probably more like Grover. I sort of fumble through things and would be much better at eating cheese enchiladas than fighting monsters.

Which Greek god or goddess is your favorite?

Poseidon, because he is so moody and unpredictable, like the sea.

What has been the biggest challenge when incorporating Greek myths into new, modern stories?

Balancing how much of the old myth to tell within my story. Usually I don't say much. I figure kids will either know the myth, or they will get the Percy version without really needing to know the myth. Often kids will tell me they read Percy then are inspired to pick up mythology books. I think that's awesome.

Which author has inspired you the most?

Hard to pick one. Tolkien for sure, because he got me reading. Roadl Dahl and E.B. White were also usual early influences on me.

What's your favorite thing about being a writer?

Being done with a book! It feels so good when I finally send the thing off to the editor after a year of work. Then getting the book in the mail for the first time -- it's almost like the arrival of a new baby. Very exciting!

Thank you so much for your time and answers, Mr. Riordan!


Becky said...

How exciting to read an interview with Rick Riordan! I love those books...and as soon as my library pile is done I'm going to devour Titan's Curse :)

I heard Rick Riordan speak in November. My favorite *new fact* I learned then was that Mrs. Dodds was real. She was a teacher at the school where he was working!!!

Camille said...

Oh wow, Mrs. Dodds was real? Excellent interview ME! Riordan is such a nice person. He is a rockstar!

zeelibrarian said...

Thanks for the interview. Rick is coming to my city next month. I still haven't read the Lightning Thief yet but it's next to my bed.

Kelsie Eve said...

It is so great that authors take the time to answer questions people ask them.
Have you read the books and do you recomend them?

Kelsie Eve said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Little Willow said...

Go Erin go.

I've enjoyed the first two books and look forward to the third. I recommended them to a customer when she wanted a book for her younger brother, so she got them - then read them before passing them to him!

actinggal said...

Sweet interview, Erin!

Jen Robinson said...

I'm so impressed, Erin. What a great interview! I agree with Camille that Rick Riordan is a Rock Star, and I hope to meet him one day. I've also read all of his adult mysteries, which are fairly gritty, and set in San Antonio.

Erin said...

Becky--thanks for the tid-bit!

Everyone else--THANK YOU. I'm glad you all enjoyed the interview.

Yes, Jen, I'd love to meet him someday. :)

Bookwink said...

It is so cool that Percy is based on a classroom assignment! I would love to have Mr. Riordan as my teacher!

Moush said...

Rick Riordan Has Been and will always be my fav author!!!!

Anonymous said...

So good topic really i like any post talking about Ancient Greece for Kids but i want to say thing to u Ancient Greece not that only ... you can see in Ancient Greece Demography and the Spartan Economy and more , you shall search in Google and Wikipedia about that .... thanks a gain ,,,