A: Percy Jackson & the Olympians is a five book series. The main story that started in The Lightning Thief is wrapped up in The Last Olympian. I believe it’s important for a series to have a strong ending, and I always knew that Percy’s story would be five books. I’m so glad everyone enjoyed the series, but if I tried to keep it going longer it just would not be as exciting. All good things must end, guys!
Having said that, I had a ton of ideas from Greek mythology that I could not fit into the Percy Jackson series, and there were many other stories about the characters at Camp Half-Blood that I wanted to explore. Because of this, I launched the Heroes of Olympus series, starting with The Lost Hero in October 2010. You will see many of your favorite characters from PJO again in those books but there is also a cast of new main characters. I know you’re thinking it's not the same, but that’s exactly the point; I don’t want it to be the same. A story has to keep developing to be fresh, and if the author gets bored, the reader will get bored too. Keep an open mind. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. I promise it’s not the end for Percy and the gang; it’s a new twist. Heroes of Olympus is also going to be a five book series. As soon as I can release more information, I'll add it to my website.
A: The fourth Heroes of Olympus book, The House of Hades, will be published Oct. 8, 2013 in the US, Canada and UK. Those are the only countries I get publication information for. If you live in another country, your best bet is to contact a local bookseller or the publisher of the series in your country. (The publisher is listed at the front of each book and on the book's spine.)
A: I really appreciate your enthusiasm. Unfortunately, I can't release the next book until it is written. Trust me, I'm writing as fast as I possibly can without sacrificing quality. Normally it takes me one full year to write each book. I'm trying my best to speed that up, but it's a slow process to make a book and get it right. Readers will always be able to read faster than I can write. Believe me, I want the books to be done as much as you do. I'm not keeping any complete manuscripts locked up on my computer just to be mean. If the book isn't out yet, that's because it isn't done yet!
A: No, sorry! Anything that isn’t posted on the website, I can’t tell you!
A: Sorry, that’s not my department! I can only tell you that the movie Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, released Feb. 12, 2010 and directed by Chris Columbus, was based on my book The Lightning Thief. Understand that I did not write the script or help make the movie. I didn't even see it, because I didn't want the movie version to change the way I saw my characters or settings in the series! I just write the books. I can’t comment or provide any additional information about the movie version.
A: No. When an author sells the rights to a book, typically full creative control goes to the movie studio and director — in this case, Fox 2000 and Chris Columbus. The movie rights to Lightning Thief were sold over five years ago, before the book was even published. I made the decision to sell the rights so early because it brought lots of public attention to the books and helped the series catch on. However, once the movie rights are sold, the author has no control over what happens in the movie. They let me read a version of the script and make some suggestions, but that was the extent of my involvement. I can’t tell you anything further about the movie. Like I said, I didn't even see it. Nor can I give you contact information for anyone who was involved in the movie. Sorry!
A. It's actually VERY rare for an author to be involved in a movie version or have any input whatsoever. Sure, there are exceptions, but they are just that: exceptions. There are many reasons for this. Movies and books are different forms of storytelling. Film makers figure they know more about making movies than the author does, so most of the time, they insist on total control.
I explain it this way: Selling someone the movie rights to your book is a lot like selling someone your house. Once you sell it, it isn't yours anymore. You have to move out and let the new owners move in. If you insisted on a bunch of conditions before you sold it, like: "You have to let me control what color you paint the house, how you decorate it, how you remodel it, and oh yes, you have to let me continue to live there," well, most people wouldn't agree to buy a house with all those restrictions, would they? When you buy a house, you want to have control to do what you want with it. You could repaint it, remodel it, even tear it down and build something entirely new. The old owners wouldn't have any say in the matter.
Movie rights work the same way. If someone says, "Why did you let them do blah, blah, blah in your movie?" All I can do is shrug. It's not a matter of "letting them" do anything. It's not "my movie." It's not my house anymore. The new owners can do whatever they want. After all, they didn't purchase the rights for *me* to make a movie. They purchased the rights for *them* to make a movie. I wish them the best, but movie-making is not my thing. I have no interest in it. Besides, I may be biased as a novelist, but I believe if you have a book, you already have the best version of the story. There is no way a movie can ever create images as good as the ones you actively create in your imagination as you read.
A: No. As I said, I was not involved with making the movie, nor did I have any control or input on the casting choices for the first movie. Asking the author of a book on which a movie was based to give you a part in the movie is like asking the custodian at your school to give you an A in English class. It just doesn't work that way! I don’t know if future movies will be made, and if they are, I again will have nothing to do with the casting process.
A. Again, I have absolutely nothing to do with the movies. I understand there will be a Sea of Monsters movie in August of 2013, but that is the extent of my knowledge. I know nothing else about it. If you want more details, you will have to look elsewhere!
A: Fox owns those rights as part of the movie deal. I understand there was a Nintendo DS game associated with the movie release, but I have no other information on plans for other video games or other merchandise
A: You bet! Most importantly: read a lot. You'll learn how to craft a good story by reading a wide variety of different styles and genres. The best writers are voracious readers.
Second, write a lot. Writing is like a sport. To get better, you must practice. Build your writing muscles by writing a little bit every day. Also, don't think what you write has to be perfect on the first draft. No writer ever born could write a perfect first draft. The main thing is to finish what you start. Then go back and revise, and revise, and revise. How do you tackle writer's block? Plan what you're going to write before you write it! Sketch out the main points. That way you won't get to the middle and lose steam (well, maybe not as much, anyway). Power through! It's always more fun and easier to start a story than to finish it, because finishing is hard work. I have two binders full of half-finished stories from when I was young. It was a long time before I ever forced myself to finish something.
Finally, Don't give up! I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was twelve. It took me seventeen years before I was published. My first book was rejected thirteen times before it was accepted by a publisher. Even after that, I had to be a professional writer for ten more years before I came up with the idea for Percy Jackson and was able to become a full-time writer! Very rarely, you'll hear about writers getting published when they are thirteen or sixteen or eighteen, but that is EXTREMELY uncommon. Most writers have to work much longer to perfect their craft. Don't get discouraged if you don't get published right away. Stick with it and don't give up.
You shouldn't even think about publishing or submitting a story until you have one finished. No one will want to talk to you until you have a finished product, because that's the first test you have to pass. Can you actually finish something? Anyone can have a good idea. Many people can write a few good pages. Very few can actually finish a manuscript. Once you have a completed manuscript, then and only then you should get a copy of the Writers' Market, available in many libraries and bookstores. This is an excellent how-to guide that will walk you through the process of getting published and provide a list of possible agents and publishers.
The website has a more complete section with advice for writers here.
You can also read this speech I wrote for a writers' convention some years ago. It has more advice.
Please note that I’m not able to read and provide individual comments on people’s stories because I get WAY too many requests. I have to spend most of my time on my own writing, but hopefully the advice on the website will help you!
A: Unfortunately because of my writing schedule I’m no longer booking events. I only do public events as part of the formal book tour each time a new book comes out, which I post on my web calendar. These are all arranged by the publisher many months in advance, not by me. While I visited hundreds of schools over the past few years and loved meeting young readers, the travel was hard on my family and my writing deadlines suffered. Because of this, I no longer arrange any events outside the book tours -- this includes school visits, internet events, book fairs, private functions and any other type of event. Right now the most important way I can connect with young readers is to write the best books I can as quickly as I can, but thanks for your interest!
A: My son Haley asked me to tell him some bedtime stories about the gods and heroes. I
had taught Greek myths for many years, so I
was glad to comply. When I ran out of myths, he was disappointed and
asked me if I could make up something new with the same characters.
I thought about it for a few minutes. Then I remembered a creative
writing project I used to do with my sixth graders — I would let them
create their own demigod hero, the son or daughter of any god they
wanted, and have them describe a Greek-style quest for that hero. Off
the top of my head, I made up Percy Jackson and told Haley all about
his quest to recover Zeus’ lightning bolt in modern day America. It
took about three nights to tell the whole story, and when I was done,
Haley told me I should write it out as a book.
I had a lot to do already, but I somehow found the time to write the
first Percy Jackson book over the next year. I just really enjoyed
writing it. The story was such fun, and so different from my adult
fiction, that I found myself spending a lot of time on it. Now, I’m
sure glad I did!
A. Because of your interest, I recently finished a short story called "The Son of Sobek" in which Carter Kane meets Percy Jackson. It's tons of fun! In the US, you can find this story in the back of the paperback edition of The Serpent's Shadow, available May 2013. It will also be available as an e-single later in the summer. More details to come. Some day, I might write a full-length novel crossover combining the two worlds, but remember that each novel takes one year to write, and I have a lot of other books I have to write first!
A: The website has a ton of information for school reports. Check here for biographical information on me. Read an interview with me here. If you need a picture of me, or pictures of the book covers, you can use these for your report. These are just to get you started. There’s much more. I can’t do individual interviews for school reports, but do some searching around the website and you should find everything you need. And please be careful of using Wikipedia. It's very often wrong. Good luck with your project!
A: The only bad part about the books being so popular is that it has gotten very difficult for me to accommodate requests for signed books. I always pre-sign several thousand books that are sent to various bookstores. You may be able to snag one that way if you order from your favorite bookseller. I also post my public events on my web calendar. Most of these events happen around the time a new book is released. If you don’t live close to an event, you can contact a store that is hosting me and preorder signed books. Most stores that host an event for me will take your order, get your books signed on the day I do my event, then ship the books to you.
At the actual book events, there are always signed books available for sale, but I am usually NOT able to sign and personalize all the books that every fan brings from home because of the size of the crowd and the number of books. It makes me sad that I can't do that anymore, but it just isn't possible to get through a signing line that big in a single event.
Finally, please don’t attempt to mail your books to me for signature. I get too many requests to accommodate shipments of books, and by the time they get to me (if they get to me) they tend to be in pretty bad shape!
A: There are ten books in the 39 Clues series. I designed the general story arc for the whole series and authored the first book, Maze of Bones, but the other books were published in such rapid succession — roughly one book every three months — that it would've been impossible for me or any other author to write them all. The editorial team worked with each author to make sure the story and the characters stayed consistent, but they also allowed each author to bring their own personal flair to the story. I think it turned out great!
A: You bet! Check the website here. I also have a long list of all the books I've read over the past few years on my blog here.
A: I only know of a few bookstores that run summer programs inspired by Camp Half-Blood: BookPeople in Austin, Texas, is the most well-known. The program is amazing, but I don’t run the camps myself so I can’t give you any information. You’d need to contact the store. Running a camp takes a huge amount of time and energy, which is why only a few stores in the US have them. It’d be cool if I had strike teams ready to deploy and set up camps across the country, but alas, I don’t. The camps that do exist happened because some great booksellers in those communities decided to take on the challenge.
A: Most half-bloods at Camp Half-Blood don’t live long enough to have children. Their lives are simply too dangerous. If they did have children, the kids would probably pass for normal mortals, since the godly powers get diluted with each generation. If the parents were extremely strong, the child might be more like a demigod. At Camp Jupiter, things are a bit different, as you know if you've read The Heroes of Olympus.
A: I’m honored you like the series so much, and I get this question frequently, but my publisher would be pretty upset if I gave anyone else permission to write about Percy's world. All my stories are copyrighted. If you’re writing stories just for your own amusement and not planning to publish or share them, that’s no big deal. But if you are hoping to write a book that would be published some day, you need to come up with your own characters, settings, and stories. Of course, Greek mythology itself is thousands of years old. Anyone can write about the gods and monsters. Perhaps you can come up with your own original spin on that material.
A. I usually only get information about the U.S. and U.K. editions, which come out at the same time. (This applies to Canada, New Zealand and Australia, too.) I don't know the publication schedules for all the other countries where my books are published. For information about the books in your country, your best bet is to ask a local bookseller. Usually booksellers can look up that information and tell you when the next book is coming out. Sometimes they can also special order books if the books are not in their inventory. I hope you're able to find what you're looking for!
A. I love meeting my readers! The only bad thing is that there is only one of me and there are so many places to visit. Each time a book comes out, the publisher schedules a tour, but we usually only have time to go to twelve cities at the maximum, and that's just for the U.S. The publisher decides where to send me. I don't have any input in making the tour. They try to send me to different places each time, but still, they can't possibly send me everywhere. That means it's unlikely I'll be in your area on any given tour.
I'm almost never able to travel internationally just because I have to spend most of my time writing, and travel is very time-consuming. I'd love to visit all the countries where my books are published, but if I did that, it would take me five to ten years to write each book, and I don't think you want to wait that long! So, no, if you live outside North America, it's unlikely you will see me on tour.
However, we are trying to do live webcasts with the book releases, so at least you can join us online. Remember you can also order signed books from any store that hosts an event, as described above.
A: I’m sorry, but I can’t respond to emails at the present time. Like Percy, I’m pretty ADHD, and there are simply too many messages right now that distract me from my writing. If that changes sometime in the future, I will post the information on this website. But for now, the best way that I can communicate with you is by writing the best story I can for you to read, and writing it as quickly as I can. That’s what I’m working on. Thanks for understanding!
A: Click here for my Facebook page. My blog and tweets feed into my Facebook page, but I'm not an active Facebook user. I don't read or respond to messages through Facebook. As mentioned above, this is so I can keep focused on my writing.
AWARE: Any other Facebook pages, Twitter accounts or other social media
accounts claiming to be me or authorized by me are NOT. Always be
skeptical when someone makes a claim about their identity on the
Internet. People pretend to be someone else all the time. If you get an
email, instant message or other communication from someone online
claiming to be me, it is NOT from me. I don't use any accounts except
the ones above, and I don't reply to emails or initiate communication
with people online.
A. I understand! It's cool to imagine yourself in a story you like. However, I don't name characters after real people, except very rarely when it's someone I know personally, perhaps a former student of mine who has an interesting name. I get many, many requests like this. If I named characters to honor requests, I'd have to have about ten thousand characters in each book. Still, if you happen to come across a character with your name in my books, you're welcome to adopt him or her!
A. Most of them are simply names I like -- names I think will sound good in a book.
Percy is short for Perseus, the old Greek hero. I know the original Perseus was the son of Zeus, but as explained in The Sea of Monsters, Percy's mom named him this because Perseus is one of the few heroes who has a happy ending (in most versions).
Jackson is a name I've always been fond of for many reasons. I was an American history teacher when I wrote the Lightning Thief, so I was teaching about Andrew Jackson and Stonewall Jackson. My grandfather's nickname was Jack. Also, Jackson was the name of my protagonist in the adult mystery series I began writing in 1997, which featured private eye Jackson "Tres" Navarre. I just thought it sounded good with Percy.
Annabeth is a name I made up. I've never known anyone named Annabeth, though I've met a few fans with that name since. Also, Annabeth is modeled after Atalanta, the most famous Greek heroine, who is also described as a blond warrior girl with fierce eyes.
Grover? I don't know. I guess I watched too much Sesame Street as a child.
Some names were picked as shout-outs to people I knew. Mrs. Dodds is based (loosely) on a real Mrs. Dodds who taught math at the school where I worked. Mr. Brunner was the Latin teacher there. Connor Stoll, Travis Stoll, and Charles Beckendorf are all former students of mine. I also had students named Miranda and Nico.
But like I said, most names I pick because they just work well. I also have to be careful not to have too many names with the same first letter. It would get confusing, for instance, if everyone's name started with 'S' -- Sam, Sean, Shaw, Sally, and Susan.
A. Ha! I love my readers because you guys are very astute and you know your mythology.
But wait, what do you mean by "wrong"? Remember Greek mythology has been around for thousands of years, and it was retold over and over again, the details changing as different storytellers brought the myths to different cities. There are so many different versions of each myth. You may have read one version from a mythology book, but that doesn't mean it is the "right" version or the only version. I tend to pick the version I like best, and the one that fits best into Percy Jackson's world.
For instance: Some myths say Hephaestus was the son of Zeus and Hera. Others claim he was the son of only Hera, with no father. Hephaestus was either born ugly, or he became ugly when he was thrown down the mountain -- depends on which version you read. Either Hera threw him down, or Zeus did. In some versions, he fell down Mount Olympus twice! Again, depends on the version you read.
Which version is "right"? Pick the one you like best! But that doesn't mean the other versions are wrong. They are just different. I stick pretty closely to the myths, but I do favor some versions over others. Where I do bend the stories -- like giving Athena demigod children or making Percy the son of Poseidon -- I try to explain myself in the books.
A. Many years ago, I used to give out Camp Half-Blood t-shirts for freebies at events, but I can't do that anymore. It caused problems, because I could only give out a few, and some people who didn't get t-shirts felt really bad or parents got upset. Those t-shirts are long gone! Occasionally the publisher will print T-shirts for promotional giveaways at events, but I don't have any extras to share and they can't be ordered or purchased.
I don't sell t-shirts. It's just not something I have the time or inclination to do, since most of my time needs to be spent writing the books, right?
However, many fans make their own Camp Half-Blood t-shirts, and they are much more creative than anything I could come up with. If you want to do that, go for it!
A. No, never. I am aware of fanfic, but I go out of my way to avoid it. For one thing, it's legally tricky ground. I can't actively endorse anyone else using my copyrighted material. I also don't want anyone claiming later on, "Hey, you got that idea from my fan fiction!"Aside from that, I have to admit I find fan fiction a little unsettling. It's like somebody getting into my closet and trying on my clothes. It's just weird seeing someone else try to write about my characters. Then again, I can't listen to the audio versions of my books. It drives me crazy hearing another voice beside my own narrating my stories. And, as I've explained many times, I also couldn't watch the Percy Jackson movie for much the same reason.
A. But wait, there's more! Be sure to check the interview with Rick for more.