The Malta Connection

A couple of months ago my friends Rachel and Chris from Merlin Library in Malta contacted me with this crazy idea: Since I could not come to Malta in person for a Titan’s Curse release party, I could visit via teleconference. Talk about a leap of faith: They reserved the auditorium at St. James Cavalier, a beautiful arts center in Valletta, invited a ton of kids, and set up a big screen and all this other high tech equipment. They helped me to download the Skype program for making internet video calls and we did a test run, but we didn’t actually get to try it in the theater until the day of the party. We just had to hope it would work. I joked that we’d better make the proper sacrifices to Hermes, god of telecommunications, or we were toast.

Yesterday was the big event. They had a packed house in the afternoon (early morning, my time) and Rachel did a reading from Titan’s Curse while Chris and I kept in touch via instant messages. Then the moment arrived, and I made the call . . .

It worked flawlessly. We could see each other and the sound delay wasn’t bad at all. The kids got to ask questions and broke into applause when I told them the latest news about the movie. We had a great conversation across several thousand miles and seven time zones. It made me miss Malta, and remember how amazing my visit was last year.

But the incredible part . . . after the event, Rachel discovered something about St. James Cavalier. They have no Internet access. So how did we connect? It’s still a mystery. She’s not sure if her laptop somehow managed to get a wireless signal or what. We shouldn’t have been able to do the conference. It’s obvious Hermes was looking after us, at any rate! Good thing I burned some pizza in the brazier for him and saved some rats for his snakes, George and Martha.

Thanks to everyone in Malta who came out for the launch party! May the Olympians look out for you until we meet again.

Rick Riordan