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 www.rickriordan.com. 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!