12:00 pm EDT, August 15, 2014

Rick Riordan discusses ‘Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods’ with Hypable

Hypable recently spoke with author Rick Riordan about his upcoming book Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods. Check out the full interview below!

Greek Gods Cover LQ

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Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods is a collection of Greek myths told from Percy Jackson’s point of view. He adds his own voice and humor to the actual ancient tales, and the passages are accompanied by the beautiful art of John Rocco, who has a long history of adding his artistic touch to Riordan’s work.

The book is a large volume perfect to leave on a coffee table for display, and as Riordan ensures us below, is also fit as a reference book if you’ve got an essay to write or a project to complete!

Interview with Rick Riordan

Tell us five random facts about yourself.

I play guitar (though I won’t say how well.) I worked my way through college singing in a folk rock band. I like online gaming, although it’s been a while since I’ve gotten to play. I developed my chops for storytelling by being a dungeon master in Dungeons and Dragon in college because I am a proud and total nerd. My favorite thing to do is watch the sunset from our roof deck here in Boston – it’s a spectacular view!

Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer.

I started writing when I was 13. I credit my eighth grade English teacher with inspiring me to be a writer. I dabbled with songwriting and short stories for years because I was a full-time classroom teacher, and then published my first novel, an adult mystery, in 1997. The Lightning Thief began as a bedtime story for my son Haley. The next thing I knew, I was a children’s writer! I did most of my writing while I was a full-time teacher and published seven novels while I had a day job. I always tell people if you want to write, don’t wait for that day when you have more time. That day will never come. You just have to make time and do it.

Describe your novel in five words.

“You really should buy it.”

What one YA novel do you wish you had when you were a teen?

All of them. I wasn’t aware of books targeted just for teens when I was a teen. There seemed to be this huge gap between James and the Giant Peach and Lord of the Rings. Now, there’s so much wonderful stuff!

What made you decide to write about Greek myths from Percy’s point of view?

I know Percy’s voice so well, it was a no-brainer to write the myths from his point of view. Besides, it was a lot more fun that way. Percy’s snarkiness, after all, is basically my snarkiness. We have the same sense of humor.

There are many versions of Greek mythology with subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) differences. What made you go with the specific versions you chose? Did you do any tweaking yourself, or did you keep Percy’s version close to the source?

I read a lot of primary sources about each god and chose the versions of the myths that fit together to form the most coherent, interesting story. My versions of the myths are absolutely faithful to the original sources. I didn’t tweak anything, except of course to couch the narrative in modern language and add modern sensibility and humor. If you use Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods as a textbook for a Classics mythology test, I wanted to be sure you would get an A+!

Did you work closely with John Rocco to design the images for this book, or did you leave all of that in his capable hands?

I gave John the chapters as I finished them. We talked a bit about which scenes to narrate, but really John is a master at making stunning art. I leave the visual sorcery to him!

Greek Gods Spread LQ

Who was your (or Percy’s!) favorite god to write about?

So hard to say. I loved them all and found out things I didn’t know about each of them. I think Dionysus, actually, because I knew the least about his origin story, and it is pretty fascinating.

Seeing as Percy has a close connection to Poseidon, what can you tell us about Percy’s interpretation of his father’s past?

Percy comes right out and admits he is biased about his dad being the best Greek god. Percy definitely gives Poseidon’s story a positive spin, though there are some things Poseidon did that are pretty hard to explain, and Percy owns up to that. I mean, he totally should have offered the Athenians trained whales instead of horses when he competed to be their patron god.

What was the biggest challenge about writing a book like Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods, versus writing the actual Percy Jackson series?

My challenge with Greek Gods was to present the original myths as fully and colorfully as possible for modern kids. I completely ignored all the previous retellings like D’Aulaires and Edith Hamilton and went back to the original Classical sources. Then I had to figure out how to make all those old stories fit together in a way that kids would find interesting, exciting, and funny. I wanted to include a lot of the lesser-known myths about the gods. So many great myths don’t make it into the children’s anthologies. I wanted to change that and make the book very comprehensive.

Does Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods offer up any information about Percy and his friends that we don’t already know?

Only indirectly, because you get to know their parents the gods. It’s a book about the Olympians, not the demigods, but I think you’ll gain new insight into Annabeth, for instance, by reading about her mom Athena.

Would you be at all interested in doing something similar to Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods for Egyptian mythology, narrated by Sadie or Carter Kane?

It’s a great idea. It’s just a question of writing time. I’ve got so many projects already on my plate!

You’ve also just launched a new app, called Demigods of Olympus. What was the appeal there, and have you learned anything else yet about your character, Clayton Sato?

The app is so cool! I wasn’t really sure what that would be like, but I found myself sucked into the story. I didn’t know the programming behind it, so the outcomes of my decisions surprised me. I haven’t gotten past the second story yet, because the third and fourth installments are still in development. The author really should write those faster! Oh, wait…that’s me.

Now that your Heroes of Olympus series is coming to a close, will you be firmly focusing on your Norse series, or can we expect more Greek-themed projects like this in the near future?

It’s too early to say. Right now, I’m focused on the Norse series, which will be a trilogy. Stay tuned for more on that!

More from Rick Riordan

If you’d like to purchase Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods, you can order it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or IndieBound. It will be released on Tuesday, August 19.

Don’t forget to check out Riordan’s new app, Demigods of Olympus. It is available now for free, and you can learn more about it in our previous article.

Finally, don’t forget that the final book in the Heroes of Olympus series, titled The Blood of Olympus, will be released on October 8. Riordan will be going on tour later this year to promote the book.

Image credit: Disney/John Rocco

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