What a Week!

It’s hard to imagine how I could’ve crammed more activities and news into a single week.

I started on Monday with a trip to North Carolina. I visited Apex Middle School, where almost every kid in the school had read the Lightning Thief in their English classes. Wow, it makes such a huge difference when the kids are prepared like that. They had great questions, and they were so excited. I met with the Newbery club after school and we had an informal discussion about books, writing, and what I might do after the Percy series. I met quite a few aspiring writers.

That evening I had my first visit to Quail Ridge Bookstore. If you’re ever in the Raleigh area, you need to go. It’s a fabulous store. We had an enormous crowd of teachers, parents and kids, all ages from 8 to 18. Most embarrassing moment, a young lady came up to get her book signed and I asked her how school was going this year. I thought she was maybe fourteen. It turned out she was a college professor. Oops!

Tuesday, I visited Ravenscroft School and spoke with grades 6, 7 and 8. It was an interesting day because it was mostly writers’ workshops, so I got to spend a lot more one-on-one time with kids than I usually do in big presentations. I felt like I was teaching again! There are some talented writers at that school. Most memorable moment: walking by a classroom and seeing a teacher reading from my book. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but it was really cool. I know the book is used in classrooms all the time, but seeing it happen in person really made me feel honored — that a teacher would take something I wrote and use valuable class time to read it to his kids. Anway, after lunch we did a distance learning activity with schools all across North Carolina. The technology gods smiled upon us and we didn’t have any hitches. Lots and lots of questions came in over the Internet. You can check out the whole thing on the link listed in my previous post.

Then I flew home, figuring the rest of the week would be quiet. Wrong! My editor emailed on Wednesday and said, “Wow, congratulations on Chris Columbus.” I’m like: “What are you talking about?” I figured Columbus was old news, having discovered the New World quite a while ago. She writes, “No, the director. It was in Variety today.” Now remember, I am “just the author,” as they say in Hollywood, so I am absolutely the last one to know anything. But I look up Variety, and sure enough, there’s the article. Chris Columbus, who directed Home Alone, Mrs. Doubtfire, and the first two Harry Potter films, has signed on to direct and produce The Lightning Thief. My film agent and Riley Ellis from Fox both email me to confirm the deal.

I usually try to downplay movie news. With Hollywood, I take a “I’ll believe it when I see it” approach. But I have to admit this is pretty exciting. What I love about Chris Columbus is that he has a reputation for being faithful to his subject matter. He tries to make the movie like the book. The author yells a large, “Hooray!” So what does this mean for the progress on the movie? Don’t ask me. I understand they are working on getting a writer to draft a second script (they weren’t satisfied with the first one). I still have no word on casting, and as I always say, I won’t be involved in that part at all. But my guess is things will start moving at a faster pace now. If I do find out anything more, I’ll post it.

That would’ve been enough for the week. But then my editor and publicist call me on Thursday to let me know the Sea of Monsters will debut on the New York Times paperback bestseller list next week, following in the footsteps of the Lightning Thief. Woohoo! Two for two.

And on Friday, he rested. Well, not really. I finished reading Percy 4 to Haley and Patrick. They gave it thumbs up, though I caught several things that need fixing as I was reading it aloud, so now it’s back to revising. I’ll probably be sending it off to my editor in a few weeks, though as I’ve said before, the editing/publication process is very long. It won’t be ready for release until next spring.

In the meantime, the countdown has begun on my website. TEN DAYS until Titan’s Curse. Next week, one last string of school visits, this time in Keller ISD near Fort Worth, before I set out on the official book tour. Today, I think I’ll take it easy!

Rick Riordan