Final Report from England

I’m off to Heathrow in about an hour. What a trip it’s been!

Thursday I had a fantastic interview on BBC Live 5 radio with English children’s laureate Jacqueline Wilson, Malorie Blackman (author of Noughts and Crosses) and Tim Bowler (author of Frozen Fire). The rumors about Jacky Wilson’s enormous collection of rings are true. She’s quite deadly with all that heavy silver hand armor, but fortunately she’s a very nice person. Thanks to Simon Mayo for having us on the show, and for the young caller Jessica who was asked to review the Titan’s Curse on the air. She did a great job and had very kind things to say.

Friday I talked to the Puffin sales reps. We ate New York bagels in honor of Percy. Then in the evening I got to see Spamalot at long last. Funny show. The only thing is, so many people in the audience knew all the lines and were reciting them, it felt like a bizarre cross between a church service and the Rocky Horror Picture Show. My favorite parts were the “I’m Not Dead Yet” song-and-dance routine and the killer rabbit puppet.

Saturday, I visited Milton Keynes, which is apparently the only city in England intentionally modeled after suburban American communities. It’s on a grid, and the shopping malls are very much like what you’d find in the US. I found it a little surreal. Ares and Aphrodite were on hand, giving out candy and Percy Jackson brochures outside the bookstore. The kids liked the gods. The adults liked Ares’s Harley. Everyone went home happy. I’ll be interested to find out who wins the trip for four to Greece. I’m not eligible, darn it. We took some good pictures of the gods and me. As soon as I get copies, I’ll post them. Zeus and Poseidon were in Manchester and Birmingham. I hear those events went well, too.

Yesterday, I addressed the Federation of Children’s Book Groups, a fun bunch of people and very dedicated to youth literacy. They are the same organization that sponsors the Red House Children’s Book Award, which is run very much like the Bluebonnet Award in my home state of Texas.

My embarrassing moment of the day: I got my first Yorkshire pudding with lunch and immediately poured custard on it, thinking it was a dessert. It’s not. The custard, which Americans would call pudding, doesn’t go on the pudding. It goes on the pie, which is also called pudding in England. So simple! Why I had trouble, I don’t know.

I’ll be back in England at the end of May for the Hay Book Festival, but for now, it’s time to get home!

Rick Riordan