Rick Riordan Interview
Rick Riordan: Hero of Olympus
Percy Jackson author talks about his new book, Son of Neptune
Author Rick Riordan returns to his Heroes of Olympus series with the book The Heroes of Olympus Book Two: The Son of Neptune. In October, he presented the book to a crowd of excited young fans in Southern California. He also spoke with Kid Reporter Cassandra Hsiao about The Son of Neptune, his work as an author, and how being a teacher has influenced his writing.
Kid Reporter: What sparked the idea for The Son of Neptune?
Rick Riordan: Well, I knew I wanted to bring Percy Jackson back into the new series, but I wanted to do it in a different way. So I wiped his memory and I dropped him in the middle of a Roman camp just to see what would happen. It was a lot of fun.
KR: Who is your favorite Olympian god?
Riordan: Well, no surprise, I’d have to say either Poseidon or Athena. That’s why they figure so prominently in the series.
KR: Which of your characters can you best relate to in The Son of Neptune?
Riordan: In The Son of Neptune, I think probably Frank. He’s my favorite new character. Frank is a little awkward, a little clumsy. I can relate to that. But he’s also a pretty sweet guy and he’s got a big heart, so I’d like to think that I’m like that.
KR: What is it about mythology and mythological characters that make you want to write about them?
Riordan: They’re so fun. I mean, they’re like superheroes. The gods are our first superheroes. They’re really human and they make mistakes, but they also have these amazing powers and people like to imagine what they would do if they had power like the gods or the demigods.
KR: So what draws readers to your books? Is it the characters themselves, their personalities, or the gods?
Riordan: Well, I hope they can relate to the characters as well as liking the stories. I was a middle school teacher for a long time. I try to imagine that my own students are reading the book. I try to put a lot of humor and action and not bore the reader.
KR: When you were young, who was your favorite author?
Riordan: When I was really young, I liked E.B. White, like Charlotte’s Web. And I liked Roald Dahl, James and the Giant Peach, and later on I liked Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings.
KR: Do you ever struggle with writers block?
Riordan: I think every writer struggles in some way with writers block. The trick is to plan out what you are going to say beforehand. I found out that if you make an outline you’re much less likely to get blocked when you get into the middle of the story.
KR: What are some important elements of a good writer?
Riordan: Well, basically, you have to read a lot so you know what good writing looks like and you get inspired. You have to write a lot because it’s like a sport — you have to practice. And, also, you have to persevere. Don’t give up. I got rejected on my first book, like, 14 times, but I just kept going. So believe in yourself and don’t give up.
KR: Do you read any reviews of your books, and do you let them impact the way you write?
Riordan: My wife actually does most of the reading of reviews. I don’t usually do that. I just kind of stay away from reviews. So no, they don’t really impact me. But I’m definitely always hoping that the kids like the books. When I go to events, I always listen to the kids.
KR: What is something that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
Riordan: Something readers might be surprised to find out is that when I was young I stopped writing for a while and took up the guitar and for a while I thought I was going to be a rock star. But that didn’t work out so well. So I went back to teaching, and I’m glad I did because that led me to write The Lightning Thief eventually.
KR: As for your teaching, you’re a former teacher and a father. Does that impact the way you write for young readers?
Riordan: It absolutely does. I always have kids in mind. My own sons are reluctant readers, so I always try to write a book that they are going to like. And they don’t read a lot, so I have to make it really interesting to keep their attention.
KR: Can you tell me more about the third book of The Kane Chronicles that’s going to come out in the spring?
Riordan: Right. The third book comes out in, probably, May. I’m just finishing it up now. I can’t give away too much about it. We’re going to announce the title in a few months. Not yet, but it will be, for now anyways, the last in the series. It will wrap up the trilogy and Carter and Sadie will have to fight the great chaos serpent Apotheosis. So everything will be wrapped up.