Rick Riordan Q&A

Get to know Rick Riordan, October's Author of the Month. He explains the inspiration behind his writing, how he got his start and what makes the Heroes of Olympus series unique.

Where did you get your idea for this book?

Long before I started, I pretty much knew what The Mark of Athena would be about: Greek and Roman demigods finally meet one another. The seven demigods of the Great Prophecy get together and head to Rome to fight the giants. All of that was set up in the first two books of The Heroes of Olympus. But in some ways, this was the hardest book I’ve ever written. I’ve never juggled a cast of seven before, eight if you count their belligerent satyr. It was challenging, but a lot of fun! It’s also the first time I’ve taken my demigods out of North America.

What was your favorite book when you were growing up?

When I was very young, I liked Dr. Seuss. Later, my mom read me Charlotte's Web and the other novels of E.B. White. When I started reading on my own, my favorite series was The Lord of the Rings. Prior to that, I was a reluctant reader, but Tolkien really ignited my passion for reading.

How old were you when you started writing?

My eighth-grade English teacher read one of my stories and encouraged me to submit it to a magazine. I was 13. The story wasn’t published, but I kept trying. A mere 17 years later, I got my first book published! It was an adult mystery. Eight years after that, Percy Jackson was born.

What is your favorite word?

My favorite changes all the time. Recently my sons and I discovered that dastard is a word—as in dastardly, but just the noun. It means scoundrel and is just such a great insult we were laughing about it for hours. You dastard!

What is your favorite book about Chicago?

My favorite is actually an adult nonfiction book, The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. It tells the story of the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. I had no idea how many "firsts" came out of that fair—the first Ferris wheel, the first midway, even that "snake charmer" tune that’s often sung with the lyrics, “There’s a place in France…” The book made me want to time travel back to 1893! Even better, Larson interwove the true story of a serial killer who was operating in Chicago at the same time, a guy even creepier than Jack the Ripper. Good read, especially since it’s all true.

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