Thursday, 8 October 2009

INTERVIEW: Rick Riordan

At times in thier lives teachers have oft asked "How the hell do you get kids interested in (Insert relevant subject)? Well for Rick, he went one stage further by creating Percy Jackson, a modern day Greek Hero who's the son of an Olypian (and no we're not talking someone from the Games held every four years but one of the god/ddess/e/s here.)

Not only has he blended a historical as well as mythological concept together but he's created a hero for the youth of today that will strike a chord with everyone especially those who suffer from dyslexi
a which goes to show that no matter your disability you can triumph. We took time to chat to Rick about this series as well as to find out a few more things about him, some of which may surprise you...

Falcata Times: When did you realise that you wanted to be a writer?

Rick Riordan: When I was twelve years old I began writing fantasy stories inspired by Lord of the Rings. They were awful, but one has to start somewhere. When I was thirteen, my English teacher suggested I send a story to a magazine. It was rejected, but that was the beginning of my journey to get published.

FT: If someone were to enter a bookshop, how would you persuade them to try your novel over someone else's and how would you define it?

RR: It’s much more likely I would hide and say nothing, or talk about other people’s books. I’m afraid I’m not a very good shill. If pressed, I would ask if they liked mythology and fantasy. I would start with the Lightning Thief, which is about a modern boy who discovers he is the son of Poseidon. From that, I would let them make their own decision about whether or not it’s a book they would like.

FT: Who is a must have on your bookshelf and whose latest release will find you on the bookshops doorstep waiting for it to open?

RR: Suzanne Collins just came out with Catching Fire, a sequel to The Hunger Games. When book three comes out, I will definitely be first in line. I also love the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and am anxiously waiting for book four.

FT: When you sit down and write do you know how the story will end or do you just let the pen take you? ie Do you develop character profiles and outlines for your novels before writing them or do you let your idea's develop as you write?

RR: I spend about a month pre-writing and sketching out the plot and characters. I know the ending, but it often changes as I go. Writing is a form of alchemy. The end product must be more than the sum of its parts if it is to work.

FT: What do you do to relax and what have you read recently?

RR: I read, swim, and play guitar to relax. I also play board games and computer games with my sons. I enjoy travel with my family. My most recent reads are adult fiction: The Name of the Wind, a fantasy by Patrick Rothfuss, and The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

FT: Lots of writers tend to have pets. What do you have and what are their key traits (and do they appear in your novel in certain character attributes?)

RR: I have two cats and one dog. They don’t appear directly in my books, though I certainly use their personalities indirectly. I just wrote a book about Egyptian mythology, and my cats were an invaluable resource for the personality of Bast, the cat goddess. My dog has a personality very much like Tyson, the lovable Cyclops in the Percy Jackson series.

FT: Which character within your latest book was the most fun to write and why?

RR: My Egyptian mythology book was so much fun to write. My favorite character turned out to be Sadie Kane. This surprised me, but she really stole the show. It’s the first time I’d ever written from the first person point of view of a young female hero, and she let me know right away that she was taking control of the narrative!

FT: How similar to your principle protagonist are you?

RR: I share Percy Jackson’s sense of humor but not his bravery. I would be hiding behind the bushes rather than fighting monsters, I’m afraid.

FT: What hobbies do you have and how do they influence your work?

RR: Reading and gaming certainly inform my writing. I think the two are quite similar actually. I like fast-paced storytelling with humor and action. The best stories and the best games both have these qualities.

FT: Where do you get your ideas from?

RR: That’s an impossible question for a writer, and it’s the question we get asked the most. My favorite answer: There’s a secret website called I wish that were true. The truth is, I have no idea.

FT: Do you ever encounter writers block and if so how do you overcome it?

 - Sometimes pieces of music seem to influence certain scenes within novels, do you have a soundtrack for your tale or is it a case of writing in silence with perhaps the odd musical break in-between scenes?

RR: Every writer has writer’s block from time to time, I think. One thing that helps me is planning what I’ll say ahead of time. If I get stuck, getting up and doing something else will often help, too, especially a good long walk. I don’t listen to music while writing. I find it much too distracting.

FT: What misconceptions, if any, did you have about the writing and publishing field when you were first getting started?

RR: I think most people have tons of misconceptions about publishing, and I was no exception. One thing that surprised me was just how difficult it is to make a living as a writer. I’ve been extremely lucky in that regard, but it’s neither easy nor lucrative for the vast majority of writers, even published writers.

FT: What can you tell us about the next novel?

RR: It’s a modern-day fantasy about Egyptian mythology. The old gods of Egypt are unleashed in a magical accident, and it’s up to the main characters, brother and sister Carter and Sadie Kane, to figure out how to stop them from throwing the world into chaos.

FT: How did you get past the initial barriers of criticism and rejection?

RR: Persistence. It’s the only way, really. You have to believe in what you write, but also be open to reasonable criticism.

FT: In your opinion, what are the best and worst aspects of writing for a living?

RR: The best thing is setting your own schedule. The worst thing is setting your own schedule. You have to be very self-disciplined, and if you don’t meet your obligations, there is no one to blame but yourself. That can be quite tough!

1 comment:

Michelle Muto said...

These books sell like hot cakes in the states. The B&N near us has a store display. I even recall a news show - maybe ABC World News? Anyway, they talked about how much kids love these books.

So a resounding cheer to Rick for keeping so many kids interested in reading.