Rick Riordan's Blog, page 9

August 7, 2012

 Another blast from the past: This is a keynote address I gave in 2006 for the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers conference in Denver, CO. I'd forgotten about this speech, but I think it's still got some good points for aspiring writers, so I'm posting it again!

First posted 2006:

I was privileged to give the keynote address at the annual Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers conference in Denver, Colorado, this weekend. My subject: Why write novels? For those who might be interested, a transcript of my speech is below.

Keynote Address: Why Write Novels?

As you may have heard, I recently made the change from teaching middle school and writing adult murder mysteries to writing full-time, primarily young adult fantasy. People often ask me why. I’d like to set the rumors straight. It is not because once I was out of the middle school classroom, I suddenly lost my desire to contemplate murder.

No. In fact, I enjoy teaching and writing for kids. But there’s one thing I’ve learned doing elementary school visits over the last few years: Assume nothing. On one of my first school visits to a second grade class in San Antonio, I was talking with the kids about cover art for books. I showed them a poster-sized version of the cover for The Lightning Thief and told them that this is what the book would look like. The kids gasped in amazement. One girl said, “Will it really be that big?” I tried to explain that no, books weren’t really that large. Then every child in the class pointed to a nearby easel, where they did have a book as large as my poster. Like I said: Assume nothing.

And so I’m going to use this keynote address to pose a simple question: Why write novels? Here we are at a writers’ conference, learning to create and hopefully publish books. But why? There is so much else to do, why should we aspire to write books?

Well, Sherlock Holmes once said that when you eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. So maybe we should start by dispelling some misconceptions about writing books, thereby eliminating the reasons we do not -- or should not -- aspire to writing.

So here, ladies and gentlemen, are Rick’s top five misconceptions about writing.

1. Writing is a responsible career choice. The question that surprised me most after I published my first novel was, ‘What did you do before you were published?’ The assumption: Now that I was a published writer, it must be my full-time job. I was probably lounging by the pool all day with a Martini and a laptop computer. Surely, writing had superseded my old life. In truth, as we know, writing is very rarely a full-time job. Depending on which survey you believe, the average salary of a published writer is between $2000-7000 a year. Now these numbers are a few years old, but still, even if we assume that this salary range has doubled, it’s obvious that most writers will never quit their day jobs. When I explained to people that I was still a full-time school teacher, they would give me sympathetic looks. I tried explaining that I loved teaching. I was not anxious to leave my calling. For some strange reason, no one believed me. When I finally did become a full-time writer, everyone was so impressed. Finally, I was a “real” writer. Strangers would congratulate me. Many people wrote to ask my advice on how they too could become a full-time writer. They would say, “I want to change careers and become a writer. I’ve got this great idea for a book . . .” I hated to admit that I couldn’t explain how I got to write full-time, much less explain how they could do it. If they had an idea for a book now, it would be five years minimum before they saw any money from that idea. It took me ten years before I became a full-time writer, and even then I didn’t plan it. So is writing a responsible career choice? I’d have to say no. A possible career, yes. But this is not a good reason to starting writing books.

2. I write because it’s fun! Everyone should try it! The most oft-repeated anecdote in the writer’s world: A writer is at a cocktail party, having a conversation with another man. The writer says, ‘What do you for a living?’ The other man says, ‘I’m a brain surgeon. How about you?’ The writer says, ‘I write novels.’ ‘Fascinating!’ the surgeon says. ‘You know, I’m thinking about writing a book when I retire.’ Writer: ‘What a coincidence! When I retire, I’m thinking about taking up brain surgery!’ The point is two-fold: writing is not easy, but many people believe that they have a story inside them. Wanting to be a writer is a common dream, right up there with owning a restaurant and playing pro sports. About five years ago NPR did a survey of people walking through a Barnes & Noble bookstore in Washington D.C. The question they asked: Do you think you have a novel inside you? 81% said yes. But what separates the idea from the reality? A lot of insanity and a touch of masochism. Writing isn’t digging ditches, I’ll grant you, but it is extraordinarily hard work. We don’t write simply because we think it sounds like fun. It isn’t true that anyone can do it.

3. Writing a book is the first step toward a TV/movie deal. Oh, if I had a dime for every time someone asked me, ‘When is the movie coming out?’ Or even better: ‘Can I be in the movie?’ In our culture, books are very small potatoes compared to movies. In fact, books are often seen as minor preludes, stepping stones toward the ultimate expression of the idea: the movie version. This is in spite of the fact that almost no one walks out of a theater and exclaims: ‘Wow, that was so much better than the book!’ Frank McCourt, in his most recent memoir, was talking about all the attention he got for the movie of Angela’s Ashes. He said in America, it’s all about the Movie. You could write the Manhattan phone directory and everyone would ask, ‘So when’s the movie?’ Of course, this obsession is not just limited to America. I get that question from all over the world. Even my local pizza delivery guy is infatuated with the idea. He showed up on my doorstep and asked if his wife could have a part in my movie. I had to break it to him that I had as much control over that as he did. The pizza guy came bearing food. He had a better chance of getting onto the set. The infatuation is understandable, but I hope we are not writing books simply as a prelude to the movies. If we are, we will be disappointed. The number of books optioned for movies or television is miniscule compared to the number of books published, which is turn is miniscule compared to the number of manuscripts submitted to publishers. Even if a book gets optioned for feature film, a film agent recently estimated for me that the odds of the book actually becoming a movie were about one in twenty. The average time? Anywhere from two to fifty years. Narnia and Lord of the Rings took a generation. The Golden Compass, an extremely popular children’s book, is just now going into casting. The book is fifteen years old. Even Lemony Snicket and Harry Potter took years of work. A few years ago, I was having lunch with a friend who is a screenwriter in L.A. He’s produced and written several TV shows you’ve probably heard of. His big goal, however, was to publish a novel. I asked him why. He was doing very well for himself. His work was known by millions. And yet what he really loved was the idea of writing a book, knowing full-well it would probably be a midlist title that received very little attention and made no money. He told me it was about ownership. In Hollywood, everything is done by committee. Nothing is really yours. A book is different. A book is yours. Anyone who has ever had a book turned into a movie can probably tell you about the pain of watching something you created twisted and turned into something else by Hollywood. So I hope we are not writing for Hollywood.

4. We write to get famous. My favorite question kids often ask: Have you met any famous writers? Kids are great about keeping you in your place. But when they ask this, it does make me realize that even writers I consider ‘famous’ are not known to the general public. It takes huge publicity to get noticed by the nation as a whole, not just the book-reading population, which is a tiny fraction of the nation. What writers are recognized by the general public? Can you name more than a dozen who are household names? Because of this, people judge writers on the exceptions, rather than the rule. We are all compared to J.K Rowling, which is sort of like judging everyone in America based on George W. Bush. Writers, by and large, are not famous. Publicists will tell you how difficult it is to get media attention for a book, any book, unless there is some timely controversial tie-in, or unless it was written by a celebrity. I got a taste for how distorted the view of fame and writers was when I did an interview last year with an Irish tabloid newspaper. I did a simple interview about The Lightning Thief. When the tabloid article came out, I was amazed to learn that I was a dying, bestselling American author desperate to find Irish kin who could inherit my fortune. The tabloid even provided a hotline number for their readers. They’d had to do some serious image-enhancing to make me print-worthy, but there I was, right next to an article about David Hasselhoff and an ad for naughty Korean nurses. You see what you have to look forward to when you’re a famous writer? So please, don’t write to get famous!

5. Finally, my favorite: We write because we have the time. A question I got asked constantly when I was a teacher: ‘How do you possibly find the time to write?’ I didn’t have a good answer. I simply found the time because I had to. I would write in the early morning and again at night. I wrote about three or four hours a day, maximum. When I quit teaching, I had illusions that I’d get twice as much done. In fact, I still write about three to four hours a day. That seems to be by maximum output. I feel just as busy now as I ever have. People often tell me that they hope to write some day, when they retire, when they’re not so busy. My response? Don’t wait. That day will never come. We are always too busy to write. No book has ever been written because the author had spare time to write it.

So if all those are misconceptions, why are we sitting here? If we cannot expect fame, or money, or even a stable career, why do we write books?

We write, I hope, because we have a story to tell. How easy it is to lose sight of that, but the goal of writing is telling a good story. To be a writer, it’s not enough simply to love the idea of writing, or to dream of being published. You have to forget that. You have to find the story you must tell – the story so important to you personally that you have no choice but to write it. For me, I first got that feeling with Big Red Tequila, a story about a detective who goes home to Texas from San Francisco. It was a story born out of homesickness. I would have written it for myself whether it got published or not. But it felt different from anything else I’d ever done. I knew, deep down, that this story would get published. Then, with the Percy Jackson series, I had that sense again. I was writing a modern myth, an allegory to help my son make sense of who he was. I would have written it whether it was published or not. And it’s that very fact that made it publishable.

Find that story.

What will help you in your journey? Read a lot. Write a lot. Do your homework on the publishing industry and be professional. All of that is important. But most of all, make sure you have something to say. And if it’s any consolation, when that story is ready to come out, you’ll know it. It will find you. At least, that’s the way it was for me.

In conclusion, I’d like to turn that old anecdote about the cocktail party around. One time at a party, there were these hundred writers and a keynote speaker. The audience said, ‘We’re hoping to be writers someday.’ And the keynote speaker said, ‘What a coincidence. Some day I hope to be a reader . . . of your novels.’ Good luck, and keep writing![image error]
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Published on August 07, 2012 08:01 • 1,463 views

July 30, 2012

Thanks to Topher Bradfield of BookPeople for sharing the photos above from this summer's Camp Half-Blood in Austin! The campers were told to expect a visit from Artemis, and to listen for the sound of horns. Imagine their surprise when they heard the horn of a black SUV, and instead of a goddess, Eoin Colfer, author of Artemis Fowl, stepped out of the car. I'm told the kids went crazy with excitement.

Above, Eoin talks with the kids about his latest book, The Last Guardian, which concludes (sob) the Artemis Fowl series. I wish I could've been there, but I was traveling myself. Still, I'm so glad the campers got a chance to see Eoin, one of the funniest and nicest authors you could ever meet. And congratulations to Eoin on The Last Guardian. It's great to see Artemis Fowl back in action one more time!

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Published on July 30, 2012 04:41 • 1,796 views

July 25, 2012

The ad above will appear in selected Marvel comics to promote The Red Pyramid graphic novel, which will be published Oct. 2, the same day as The Mark of Athena! The adaptation is spectacular. I hope you guys enjoy it![image error]
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Published on July 25, 2012 04:44 • 1,171 views

July 23, 2012

Poor Speedy literally busted a gut last week. Our Basenji-mix puppy, which we found abandoned in our driveway last Christmas, has become a beloved addition to the family. She's incredibly ADHD like the rest of us, and yet managed to sit at my feet for months while I was writing The Mark of Athena. In fact the book is dedicated to her, as she was sort of my muse and mascot while I worked.

Anyway, last week Speedy got a big red bulge in her tummy that turned out to be an abscess. She got through the surgery just fine, but now has Frankenstein sutures along her belly and has to wear this attractive plastic cone on her head for two weeks. On the vet's receipt, it's actually called an 'Elizabethan collar.' Zounds! Fortunately, Speedy is obsessive about her possessions, probably because she was abandoned by her last owners with nothing but her collar and leash. She gets very upset if we try to take her leash away or remove her collar. Now she's equally attached to her cone. If we take it off, she lets us know that she wants it back.

The cats are not quite sure what to make of this. Speedy will now charge up to them for a kiss and an entire cat will disappear inside the cone. At other times, Speedy likes to play cup-in-a-ball with the end of her leash, tossing up the end so it lands in the cone. She has also discovered that the cone is a great smell-enhancer when she is in the backyard. She will ram her face into the grass and inhale deeply, which is why our yard is now covered with very small crop circles. We're looking forward to removing the cone and getting her sutures out next week, but Speedy seems perfectly content.

And now back to writing. I feel a strange compulsion to write a Shakespearean drama with dogs.

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Published on July 23, 2012 05:52 • 962 views

July 21, 2012

October 2 may seem a long way away, but I know the publication date for Mark of Athena is getting closer when my publishers begin sending me boxes of stuff to autograph. This weekend my job is to sign 1000 tip-in sheets for the limited U.S. edition of The Mark of Athena.

What does that mean? The box you see above is full of one thousand title pages from the book -- just the title page. I sign each one and send the box back to the printers, who then 'tip in' the sheets when they bind the book, so the book is printed with my signature already inside. Pretty cool, huh? Now this is only for the limited edition, which is a deluxe, more expensive collector's edition that comes in a slipcover box and has special artwork by John Rocco. The publisher is only printing one thousand total of these. They did the same thing for The Serpent's Shadow and The Son of Neptune. The regular edition of the book will be cool as well, but I couldn't sign all of those, since they print several million of them!

Next week, I anticipate getting a few thousand British tip-in sheets to sign, and I just finished signing a box of slipcovers for Taiwan. So, yeah, this is what I do on the weekends! Today, I plan on chilling out in the bedroom with the cats & dogs, listening to some music and signing away.

I'll share news about the book tour for Mark of Athena as the publication date gets closer. I usually don't find out where the publisher is sending me until about a month before -- so look for an announcement in September. And for more information, remember to check out the website's FAQ.[image error]
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Published on July 21, 2012 06:41 • 1,332 views

July 19, 2012

Here are the most recent international versions of the Son of Neptune that I've received! It's always interesting to see how different publishers market the books around the world.

Above, the Finnish edition. The Finns decided the American cover art worked for them.

The complex Chinese edition above takes the concept and does their own spin on it.

And the Indonesians get creative with their own cover design, above, featuring Hazel, Frank and Percy zipping away on a chariot, with Arion on the lead.[image error]
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Published on July 19, 2012 05:23 • 194 views
Here are the most recent international versions of the Son of Neptune that I've received! It's always interesting to see how different publishers market the books around the world.

Above, the Finnish edition. The Finns decided the American cover art worked for them.

The complex Chinese edition above takes the concept and does their own spin on it.

And the Indonesians get creative with their own cover design, above, featuring Hazel, Frank and Percy zipping away on a chariot, with Arion on the lead.[image error]
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Published on July 19, 2012 05:23 • 1,297 views

July 6, 2012

The amazing John Rocco, who has done the U.S. cover art for all my fantasy novels and who has written brilliant picture books of his own like Blackout, will be having an exhibition of his work at the Orlando Museum of Art! The opening is July 14, so if you live in the Orlando area, go meet John! If you can't make it on the 14th, the exhibit runs through October.

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Published on July 06, 2012 14:43 • 1,283 views

June 28, 2012

Reading is great for refueling the engines when you're a writer. My first piece of advice to young writers is always, "Read a lot!" Exploring other styles and genres helps make you a stronger storyteller. Fortunately, I've had the chance to read some excellent novels lately. It may seems from these reports that I love every book I read. That's not true. If I read something I don't enjoy, I don't mention it. I figure we have enough bad reviews out there already. But I'm always happy to share the books I've enjoyed.
Here are my latest finds, some for adults, some for kids, some for both!
Imagine a world where islands of solid ground are surrounded by seas of shifting dirt, sand and ice, all of it infested with dangerous subterranean predators -- giant moles, ant lions and of course the dreaded naked mole rats. The only way across this earthen sea is a labyrinthine network of rails, built and maintained by mysterious beings called Angels. 
In the Railsea, men travel by train, and brave molers set sail to hunt the giant moldywarpe. Our hero, Sham ap Soorap, has just signed aboard the moler train Medes as a medic's assistant. The captain of the train, like so many captains, has her own 'philosophy' -- she is obsessed with finding and killing a giant ivory-colored mole Mocker-Jack, who took her arm years before. However, when the Medes comes across a forbidden secret in the ruins of an old train wreck, Sham realizes there are quests even more important and more dangerous than the search for the great ivory mole.
Yes, this is a re-imagining of Moby Dick, with trains and moles instead of ships and whales. If that sounds ridiculous, that's part of the book's appeal. Only Mièville could take such an absurd idea, treat it as serious, and run with it to create a compelling, believable, hilarious story. Railsea is billed as a story 'for all ages,' and that's an apt description. It's not a book for everyone. You have to be willing to roll with the concept and plunge yourself into a bizarre environment, but the more twisted your imagination, the more this story will appeal to you. The more you read, the harder it is to put down.  Mièville. This is a swashbuckling steampunk adventure with lots of heart and humor.
So many YA fantasy romances out there these days. You would think it would be hard to put a fresh spin on the concept, but Leigh Bardugo makes it look easy. Her debut Shadow and Bone takes Russian folklore and mythology and creates an alternate tsarist Russia (Ravka) where magic and military might coexist uneasily. Imagine a cross between Cashore's Graceling and Westerfeld's Leviathan . . . and yet Shadow and Bone is unique.
Our main characters, Alina and Mal, grow up as orphans at the estate of a kindly duke, until the time comes for them to serve their country. Both are tested by the Grisha, an ancient and powerful order of magicians, but neither show aptitude, so Mal becomes an accomplished military tracker, while Alina studies as an army cartographer and has nothing to look forward to but a mundane existence. Homely and scrawny, Alina watches as her dashing, handsome best friend Mal, whom she secretly loves, gets attention from all the girls.Their lives change when their regiment is ordered across the Shadow Fold, a deadly rift of darkness that cuts Ravka in two, separating the eastern capital from its ports in West Ravka. When the caravan is attacked by gargoyle-like monsters called volcra, Alina discovers powers she didn't know she had. Immediately, she becomes the most important person in the kingdom, the target of enemy assassins, and is whisked away to the palace of the Darkling, the head of the Grisha and right hand of the king, to learn the ways of magic. Alina might hold the secret to destroying the Shadow Fold and saving Ravka, but only if she survives her enemies -- some from other countries, some from within the kingdom itself.Shadow and Bone works on every level. It's a believable and poignant romance. It's a great mystery in which the villains and heroes are not at all who they seem. It's a first-rate adventure. Maybe I was especially drawn to this book because I got to visit Russia last summer and can easily imagine the Grisha slipping through the corridors of the Winter Palace, but I suspect this book will appeal to many readers even if they have no knowledge of Russian history. I'll be anxiously waiting for the second book in the series!
A new take on the Iliad, written by a high school classics teacher -- how could I not read this? The Song of Achilles retells the story of Greece's greatest hero from the point of view of his best friend Patroclus. The big twist: Madeline Miller casts the story as a romance between Achilles and Patroclus. While staying true to Greek legends and the works of Homer, Miller creatively and convincingly fills in the blanks, giving Patroclus a back story that makes perfect sense, and tracing the friendship, and eventual romance, between the two young men in a way that casts a new light on the human side of the Trojan War.
I always found Achilles to be an unsympathetic character -- a brat, a bully, a big-headed jerk who knows he's the star player on the team and throws a tantrum if he gets put on the bench. Miller shows his unattractive qualities, but she also shows that Achilles is human. He's capable of love. He's deeply conflicted. He has a sense of humor and a gentle side. We see him through Patroclus's eyes, growing from a privileged child to a sensitive teen to a young man struggling to balance his personal feelings with the expectations of an entire country. If you've read the Iliad, you know that the story will have a tragic end, but it's also strangely uplifting and hopeful. I'll never be able to read about these characters the same way again, and that's a good thing. Reading The Song of Achilles put a new light on this ancient story. It was like watching a really good interpretation of a Shakespeare play. You think you know the story, but you're surprised to find how many layers of new meaning can be brought out by a smart production.
The book is certainly appropriate for YA and up. The prose is elegant in its simplicity. Miller gives Patroclus a Hemmingway-like directness. I read a New York Times review of this book which I thought patently unfair, complaining that the style made the book seem like a fast-food version of the Iliad. I think this misses the whole point of the story. Patroclus's mission in The Song of Achilles is to cut through the legend of the hero and show us the mortal side of demigod. He doesn't want the pompous metaphors and flowery hyperbole of a war epic to bury Achilles's other qualities -- his tenderness, his insecurity, his honesty and lack of guile. The Song of Achilles can serve as an excellent introduction or counterpoint to the study of the Iliad. It certainly made the story new and vibrant for me, despite how many times I've read Homer.

I've been burned in the past with self-published e-books. Some have been touted by Amazon as great success stories, and turn out to be poorly conceived and poorly written -- a good argument that writers still need editors, and publishers serve an important purpose to offer a degree of basic quality control.
WOOL is not such a book. I'm not sure what attracted me to it at first. The title made me curious, and I've been on a sci fi kick lately. I decided to give it a shot, and I'm glad I did. I started with trepidation, waiting for the creak of bad writing or poor characterization to pull me out of the story, but within a few pages I relaxed. Clearly, I was in good hands. Hugh Howey is a skilled storyteller. He knows the craft of writing.
I understand the WOOL OMNIBUS was written in five parts, each published as a Kindle short. The sections are connected, and each is longer than the last. The point of view changes. (SPOILER) As in The Game of Thrones, some major characters die just when you are warming up to them, which gives the reader the impression that no one is safe. (END OF SPOILER)
The basic premise: mankind has devastated the surface of the world, leaving ruined cities, endless wasteland and a toxic atmosphere. The only survivors live in an underground silo, a closed society with a mayor, a sheriff, and a shadowy IT department that seems to control everything, including the population's understanding of reality outside the silo. Cameras offer a glimpse of the outside world on monitors throughout the silo, letting the inhabitants see the sunrise over the wasteland and allay some of their claustrophobia, but the cameras often get grimy because of the atmosphere. Hence the silo's ultimate punishment: cleaning. For many crimes, including the forbidden act of simply expressing a desire to go outside, the convicted is put in an airtight suit and sent on a one-way trip to clean the lenses of the cameras. For some reason, the convicted always does the job, no matter how much they protest in advance. Within minutes, however, the suit deteriorates and the convict collapses, becoming another permanent feature of the landscape.
There is much more going on than the IT department lets on, however. When a new sheriff of the silo begins to explore some dangerous secrets uncovered by her predecessor,  she makes powerful enemies and stirs up forces that could lead to civil war.
The characters are well-drawn, and even the villains have a sympathetic side. Secrets unfold with just the right pacing, and I had to set my e-reader down several times and say, "Wow," when a major twist was revealed. The structure of the story, told in five interconnected parts, makes WOOL unlike a conventional novel, and gives it extra depth, much like the layers of the silo itself. I loved the feisty heroine Juliette especially, who endures so much tragedy and shows so much courage. And who can't relate to the notion of an IT department being run by nefarious villains who deliberately sabotage the exchange of information? If you're looking for a good post-apocalyptic read, you can't do much better than WOOL. It's targeted at adults, but is completely appropriate for YA readers as well.

I've got to respect a Harvard-educated literary novelist who decides to defy expectations and write a zombie novel. I think that takes a lot of guts (bad pun, sorry) as well as brains (okay, I'll stop now.) Colson Whitehead's Zone One follows the exploits of a protagonist known only by his nickname, Mark Spitz. To explain why he's called that would be to spoil some of the fun. In the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse, the human survivors are attempting to reclaim the island of Manhattan. Marines have cleared most of the undead from the borough and set up walls around the first target grid, Zone One, but Mark Spitz and his fellow sweepers are charged with destroying the stragglers to make the island safe for resettlement. We follow Spitz over the course of one weekend, with frequent flashbacks into his past -- from Last Night, the beginning of the zombie plague, through his days surviving in the wilderness, and finally to his connection with other survivors, who are slowing being herded into guarded camps with names like Happy Acres. A new American bureaucracy has arisen in Albany and has taken no time at all to implement ridiculous rules: No more raiding for supplies, unless the supplies are endorsed by one of the government's official sponsors. No breaking windows or damaging property while fighting off zombies, as those buildings will need to be reoccupied. The government's propaganda machine is in full swing, provided peppy songs for the rebirth of the American Phoenix, a constant stream of good news about a set of newborn triplets and an Italian model/zombie fighter, and even government-sponsored notepads from a company that makes children's merchandise about a cartoon armadillo and his cute friends, perfect for taking notes on how many zombies you kill each day!The more time we spend with Spitz, the more we feel his discomfort at the way society is reforming. We begin to suspect that things are not as rosy as the folks in Albany have reported. We begin to ask: Which would we prefer: a return to 'civilization' with corporate sponsors and theme songs, or life in the zombie-infested wasteland?The novel is not a straight-forward, plot-driven narrative. You should not expect 28 Days Later or The Walking Dead. The story is told over three days, but is mostly achronological, skipping back and forth from past to present, lingering over the stories of different characters and revealing Mark Spitz's life in a series of vignettes. It reads like a cross between Joseph Heller and Kurt Vonnegut, both writers who would've appreciated the dark humor and poignant absurdities which infuse Zone One.It's not an easy beach read by any means, but it's well worth your time. I found myself thinking about this book for weeks after I read it, wondering about Mark Spitz and what I would've done in his place.
And that's the latest! Now back to writing. Happy summer reading, everyone!

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Published on June 28, 2012 08:43 • 946 views

June 25, 2012

In case you missed it, here's the entire conversation from the weekend: three days answering questions from fans on Twitter. Now I have to go back to writing, so I'm back to not reading or responding to tweets -- only way I can keep from getting distracted! But thanks to everyone who asked questions. It was fun!

Q&A from Twitter Solstice Weekend 2012

Will read & respond to some selected Tweets over the weekend. Usually can't b/c it distracts from writing, but in honor of summer solstice!
Most questions ppl ask, however, are already answered on the FAQ: http://bit.ly/mxv6UIso check there first!
Q @MaggheeraIs Drew in the Serpent's Shadow the same Drew as the one in The Lost Hero?
A Yes. :D
Q: @Sir_CumstancesWhy are you so great at writing cliffhangers?!
A: A true cliffhanger means characters end the story in imminent danger
Most of my endings aren't actually cliffhangers. They just leave unanswered questions. Mark of Athena, however, ah... never mind.
Q: @EliCharisseDRwould u go to manila one day? i really want ur autograph!
A: I kinda doubt it, sry. Travel abroad is hard w/my deadlines.
Sadly no international travel anywhere anytime soon. The next few years, I have to stay home and write or the books won't get done on time!
Q: @Pob584how did Frank & Hazel kill the Giant in S.o.N when they can only be killed by Gods & Demi-gods working together?
A: The giant Alcyoneus is unique. He is only immortal in the land where he spawned, in this case, Alaska. Once outside, he's fair game.
Q: @brogueskittlesTell me Nico is safe! Tell me he's gonna have a bigger role!
A: Nico has a key role in MoA but demigods are rarely safe!
Q: @GirlOfAthenaMy mom is eternally grateful to you for making me love reading. Now she has to say "STOP READING, GIRL!"
A: Love it! :D
Q: @AtrociouslyMadWill we be getting a Percy and Annabeth reunion in MoA or not?
A: Don't think it's too much of a spoler to say yes.
Q: @pqpayneplease say hi to Brazil!
A: Olá, meus amigos do Brasil! I love you guys!
Reminder, as explain on my FAQ http://bit.ly/mxv6UI I just write the books, guys. I have nothing whatsoever to do with the movies.
Q @TheSwiftFactorARE YOU PLANNING A CROSSOVER? (Kane/Heroes).
A: If I did, that would be way down the line. Heroes & Norse series first.
Q: @emmeheinrichWhat are you reading now?
A: Just started Shadow & Bone by @LBardugo. Russian mythology-based YA. Really good so far!
Q: @cs412How come, in the new series, not all demigods have ADHD and dyslexia?
A: That's true in PJO too. Many demigods do, but not all.
Q @ClavineriseY don't u ask ur sons to help u write?
A: I'm editing Haley's 1st manuscript now, but he's writing his own story. :D
Q: @LivFanIanoIs percy one of the 4 narrators of Mark of Athena? (Have to wait & see) Any chance of an advanced copy? (No!)
Q @freshsmileyfaceAfter MoA, are you going to come to Canada?
A: Been to Toronto & Vancouver several times. Don't know yet for future.
Publisher sets the tour stops. I don't choose, so I can't take requests. Usually I don't know where I'm going until right before the tour.
Actually, I often don't know where I'm going in general.. But that's just me.
Q: @ItsSimplyGabyIs there anything that you could say about the Leo/Sammy thing in MoA?
A: No spoilers. Sorry! But it will be explained in MoA
Q: @ellierugenare you ever going to come to england?
A: Afraid you missed me. Been there dozens of times, but now I can't b/c of deadlines.
Q: @rubys_universeif you could be a god of anything what would it be?
 A: The god of time so I could make more. I never seem to have enough.
Q: @karimelgendiDude no offense but don't you have a deadline...
A: Haha. Tell that to my editor. And the ppl who want the books faster! :D
Q: @maisumamariana_TheHeroes of Olympus is going to have how many books?
A: Five.
Sry, questions quickly get buried beneath other questions. Some1 asked PC or MAC & what my writing desk looks like. http://pic.twitter.com/QlaVaYlm
PC and Mac. I write on Mac. Haley prefers editing format on a PC, so I use both.
Q: @nasyamatramhow do you handle writer's blocks?
A: outline first. That way I don't get to the middle of the story & get stuck (as much)
Q: JacquelyneKampe do you have any tips for a new writer?
A: Yes, on my FAQ page:http://bit.ly/mxv6UI Short answer: read a lot, write a lot
Can't answer any "What will happen..." questions about the content of future books. For that, you just gotta wait for the books!
Q: @MsErmayneehave you ever been criticized for your books ?
A: Gasp! Never! (sarcasm) Sure. Not everyone likes every book, but that's ok.
I feel fortunate that so many people DO like them!
Q: @o_TysonThanks for showing me reading is not an "adult thing."
 A: Young readers lead the way these days! Adults follow your trends.
Q: @AshaAshaAsha13when your books are finally published, are they mostly changes you made revising, or are they the original draft?
A: There is no such thing as a perfect first draft. It's impossible. 90% of writing is revising, over and over.
Q: @haymitch_drunkHave you read the Harry Potter or the Hunger Games?
A: Yes. As I've tweeted before, I love them both.
Q: @HermioneMilaWhen is Annabeth's birthday?
A: I don't know. I've never had a reason to determine it, at least not yet.
Q: (got buried) Have I ever been to Russia?
 A: I visited St. Petersburg on vacation. Beautiful city. I've never done an event in Russia.
As I said, I had to stop touring internationally, as I can't write this fast and travel the world, too. Getting the books done comes first!
Q: @OlympusTributeswhat happened to Calypso?
A: She will make an appearance later in the Heroes series. Right now, that's all I can say.
Q: @tom_emilyDo you ever do book signings at book stores in San Antonio?
A: Almost every tour. Just did one in May. Check website in Sept.
Q: @JoshuaDanielssOut of the characters in the HoO, which is your favorite to write about?
A: Gleeson Hedge. He cracks me up. Also Leo.
Q: @kklormanWhat is your favorite book that you've written?
A: It's usually the most recent one, b/c it's freshest in my mind. Hard to say!
Q: @heyitsgeai have a friend who wants to become a writer & she's writing fanfictions now, any word of encouragement? (continued)
A: Fanfic is not a bad way to practice writing IMHO. I learned a lot writing D&D stories when I was younger. But move on to your own ideas!
Q: @Filhade_Hadeswhat is your favorite book?
A: The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Got me into mythology & reading when I was about 12.
Q: @DemigodOfDrewHave you read Game of Thrones?
A: Yes, was reading it LONG before the TV show. Awesome series, but def mature stuff!
Q: @TheCliffhangersWhat other mythologies besides Greek/Roman, Egyptian & Norse would you like to write about?
A: That's 6-7 years in the future, so I have no idea. I can only write 1-2 books max a year, and I've got 2 Heroes and 3 Norse still to do!
All I can tell you is if you've thought about it, I probably have too & I've got more ideas than I'll be able to write in a lifetime!
Q: @2cute4urscreenDo you usually listen to music while writing?
A: I love all kinds of music but I can't listen to it while writing.
Some faves: Classic: Dylan, Stones, Beatles; modern: Black Keys, Jack White, Arcade Fire, Decembrists, Mumford & Sons, Adele. I could go on.
Q: @_AmamosPJwhen you're not writing, what do you do for fun? :)
A: I play guitar, read, swim w/the kids, MMORPG, sometimes go on cruises
Q: @BarcaCatalan10When u were a teenager, were u the best student in each class? A: Haha. Hardly. I was like Percy. (continued)
I got kicked out of classes for being a troublemaker & I barely passed math. My writing got me through English, but I never read the books.
Of course my karmic punishment was that I grew up and became an English teacher, but I can relate to reluctant readers.
Q: @im_a_halfbloodAre you planning on writing another Camp Half-Blood series?
 A: Like I said, that's waaaay far in the future (continued)
But some day, I'd like to do 1 more CHB series where all the action actually happens at camp, b/c most of the other books happen on quests.
That's part of the story that hasn't been told, & would be fun. But like I said, that's way, way in the future, so don't hold your breath.
Q; (got buried) Any characters based on real life?
A: Yeah. Mrs. Dodds is a real math teacher, but she's not actually a monster.
Mr. Brunner (aka Chiron) is a real Latin teacher. Travis & Connor Stoll, Beckendorf, Miranda & Nico are named for former students of mine.
Q: @alondrasanche21If you hadn't written any Percy Jackson books what would you be doing now?
A: I'd still be teaching, which I loved!
Q: @Laura_FB_what is your favorite TV show?
A: Probably Dr. Who. Been watching it since the '80s. Old series, new, love them all.
Q: How many questions do you get a day? (this ? ironically got buried under other ?s)
A: Too many to answer, which is why I usually can't!
Q: @AngelOz13Do you feel nervous when your books come out?
A: Every single time! I do my best, but I always worry you guys won't like it.
Q: @jvolrI heard a rumor that Thalia will die in The Mark of Athena, you confirm?
A: I can confirm that you shouldn't listen to rumors.
Q: @Real_me5any advice for people who want to be teachers?
A: Do volunteer work w/kids to make sure you've got the right temperament.
Get as much teaching experience as you can, subbing or whatever. You'll know very quickly if you're cut out to teach. We need good teachers!
  And the second year of teaching is 500% easier than the first year. Don't get discouraged and don't give up!
Q: @OnlyDemigods_HiUncle Rick, what's your favorite character from the Percy Jackson?
A: Grover or Tyson. They're so fun to write about.
Q: @helloandieHave you ever cried while writing?
A: Only because the first draft is so bad and my deadline is so close. :D
No, actually I got teary-eyed when I wrote one scene in Mark of Athena, and no, I can't tell you what it was. Yes, I know that's mean.
Q: @camphalfbloodWhat did you think about this nickname: Uncle Rick?
A: Honored! Did you know Tio has its root in the word Theo, for god?
Q: @caseyjaneolvismy nickname for you is Ricky!
A: That was my nickname as a little boy, so I'm used to it!
Q: @Jackieromano199after the TitansCurse, Annabeth and Percy's Grey streaks are never mentioned...shouldn't someone question them?
A: Actually that question will be addressed in Mark of Athena.
Q: Someone (sry got buried) asked what's my favorite ship in my books.
A: The Argo II. Oh . . . not that kind of ship?
Q: @pinkypoodle12do you think you belong in Camp Half-Blood or Camp Jupiter? A: No. I would fail in either place!
However, I can see living at Brooklyn House and studying magic. I would ace Advanced Napping class w/Bast.
Q: Do I follow the Spurs (basketball)?
A: Gotta confess, I'm not much of a sports fan. Probably because I have zero athletic coordination.
Playing catch w/my sons basically means we go outside and take turns hitting each other in the head with the ball.
@CarlsonJin123Q. I talked to a YouTube channel called RiordanRick. Was that account really you?
 A: Nope. Only legit accts are on my site.
Usually I can't respond to ppl on the Internet. Too many questions, gotta stay focused on writing. This weekend is a rare exception.
This account is verified. http://Rickriordan.com is my site. Aside from that, if somebody writes you back, that's a good sign it ain't me.
Q:@juliadalboscoDo you keep an edition of your books in another language besides english?
A: My garage is full of them. 35 diff languages!
Q: @kklorman2Who would you rather have: Festus or Blackjack?
A: At the risk of hurting Blackjack's feelings, Festus for sure.
Q: @TheNightCountrywhy is the book cover art different from the UK and the USA versions? A: different publishers make diff. covers.
The thinking is UK kids r attracted to different cover art than US kids. *shrug* Each publisher has final say over the cover in that country
Q: @somalinectori think you should do a blog on the do's and don't's on how to write novel.
A: 1st 'don't': more writing, less blogging!
Q: @allaboutmajuwhy you decided to start answering questions by twitter?
A: just this weekend! had a few days between projects. Solstice!
Q: @DanielleEmmieQ: Do you write cliffhanger endings on purpose?
A: Yep used to do that in class when I told stories. My students hated it!
But they were always eager to come to class the next day and hear what happened next. When I wrote Percy, I imagined telling it to my class.
Q. @rotiunyelHow do you stay focused whilst writing? I always get distracted...
A: Me too! That's why I had to shut off email access.
Q: @MooWarriorYou said that you MMORPG. Which ones do you play?
A: Name it, I've played it. But I just dabble, not hardcore. No time!
I did receive your birthday artwork, Brazilian demigods. Thank you! I just shared it on my blog: http://bit.ly/MjR3KF
Okay, guys, gotta stop reading tweets & go back to writing mode. Thx for all the questions. Maybe we'll do this again next solstice!
I leave you with this -- a collection of new covers from around the world: http://bit.ly/L7Jo0s
And most of the questions I didn't get to answer were already answered in my previous tweets or on the FAQ: http://bit.ly/9ZDQBEBye!

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Published on June 25, 2012 04:59 • 723 views