From the City of Seven Hills . . .

. . . Which apparently is Cincinnati, not Rome. Who knew?

I’m here for two days because the Lightning Thief was chosen as the city’s “On the Same Page” choice for teens, so kids in schools all over Cincinnati having been reading the book.

Yesterday I visited school groups at three public library branches. The teachers and librarians had prepared the students well. Almost all of them had read the book and even done classroom activities based on the series. I love it when that happens! It makes such a huge difference for an author visit. One young lady had even sketched a portrait of me, and was waving it in the front row. For future reference, a portrait of myself is a little too scary for me to see first thing in the morning. I would recommend Medusa next time – much more soothing.

I visited the local television station and taped an interview with nine students, some of whom had been on the committee to choose the book. Another good mark for Cincinnati: they organized kids to pick the book kids should read. I’m told the interview will be available on-line at this link: It’s not there yet, but check back in about a week if you’d like to see it.

I ended the day with a signing at Joseph-Beth Books. The booksellers were all wearing badges with their cabin numbers for Camp Half-Blood. Alex had taken a Camp Half-Blood T-shirt I sent him (which was a child’s size) and since it didn’t fit, he cut out all the words and patched it onto a large black shirt worthy of an Ares camper. I made sure he had an adult T-shirt before I left! We had a standing-room-only crowd of well over a hundred. I previewed the Titan’s Curse, did the candy-T-shirt giveaway (it was really hard to stump the kids – they knew Greek mythology well). Joseph-Beth also took preorders for Titan’s Curse and had me signing many, many bookplates. A great evening!

Some important anthropological discoveries I have made on this trip:

The indigenous people of Cincinnati wear outer garments known as “coats.” This was an alien concept to me, a Texan, but I will have to further explore this idea if I spend any more time in the north.

The correct greeting for a newcomer to Cincinnati is “Have you tried the Skyline chili yet?” Apparently this is similar to konnichiwa (have you had rice today) in Japan. I was greeted with this phrase at least three times in my first hour in the city. Upon further investigation, I found that Skyline chili is a Mediterranean-flavored meat soup, which is served over spaghetti. If you tried to serve chili over spaghetti in Texas, you would most likely be met with one of our local phrases: “Get a rope.” However, the natives here swear Skyline chili is the nectar of the gods. They gifted me with three cans (one with the spaghetti included) to bring back to my homeland. I will see if I can get it through Texas customs.

The people here apparently worship a deity known as March Madness. Being a complete ignoramus when it comes to sports, I found it difficult to follow their conversations. One boy asked me who I wanted to win the conference. I managed to decipher enough of his language to understand he was talking about basketball. Feeling very proud of myself, and being a San Antonian, I quickly said the only thing you are allowed to say in San Antonio: “I like the Spurs!” The boy politely informed me that the Spurs are not a college team. My ignorance thus established, the boy took pity on me and began talking about Skyline chili instead.

Two more school visits today. I will continue my investigations and report back. At the very least, I now know how to spell Cincinnati! Tomorrow, on to Katy, Texas!

Rick Riordan