Stories from the Road

I’m on the train from New York to Boston – a nice way to travel after days on airplanes! This is the first time I’ve gotten to open my computer for more than a few minutes because of the whirlwind of events, but it’s been an incredible few days.

After the BookPeople launch event on Tuesday I flew to Atlanta to attend the International Reading Association convention. I had a lively author session with a great group of teachers, some of whom I hadn’t seen in four years, since the last time I attended the conference. At that time, Lightning Thief hadn’t even come out yet, and we were all pretty amazed at what has happened with the series since then. I got to see Gail Carson Levine – briefly, but always a treat to speak with her. I also had the chance to meet Roland Smith who wrote Cryptid Hunters, which Patrick and I just finished reading a few weeks ago. If you haven’t checked it out yet, do.

Wednesday night I went to Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, the other great store (besides BookPeople) that hosts a Camp Half-Blood in the summer. They have a new bigger location on the main square, and they joked that they had done it just for me, because we wouldn’t have had room in the old store. The place was packed with kids. Radio Disney was there, keeping everyone entertained when I arrived. I met a ton of great young demigods. My only regret: I owe an apology to Jerry Spinelli and his audience, because unfortunately our events overlapped. Not my idea! He was upstairs in the loft while my signing line was going on downstairs, and the acoustics being what they were, I can’t imagine the noise was helpful for his presentation. I felt bad because a) I’ve been on the receiving end of a noisy competing crowd, and it’s not fun, and b) I wanted to meet Jerry Spinelli, and I didn’t get to!

Thursday, I flew to Raleigh for a visit with my friends at Quail Ridge Bookstore. Another fabulous place, another enormous crowd. I’m bad at counting, but I was told we had well over four hundred people. Thanks to the kids who made up a Percy Jackson rap song! They were a little embarrassed to perform it, but they got through a few verses, which was better than I could have done. I met several aspiring young authors and bloggers, and the Guys Read program from SMS. Thanks to Mr. Hutchinson for bringing out the guys!

Yesterday I spent the day in New Jersey, doing school visits for Books, Bytes and Beyond. It was rainy and cold (this is summer?) but the schools were welcoming, and the kids were enthusiastic. I did an informal signing at the store in Glen Rock afterwards. Special thanks to the fourth grade group who came all the way from Brooklyn to meet me because they couldn’t get tickets to my evening event in the city. Which brings me to Bank Street Books – a sold out event in New York last night.
We did the presentation in the auditorium, but they had set up an overflow room with TV monitors for people who couldn’t get space in the main room. “You’re like Bono,” someone told me, and I’m still trying to work out whether that was a compliment. As it happened, the nasty weather kept some people away, so we were just full, not overflowing!

Great questions from the audience:

“Why is Blackjack a mare in Sea of Monsters and a stallion in Titan’s Curse?” Answer: Either the author made a mistake, which is inconceivable, or Percy wasn’t paying much attention the first time and doesn’t know much about horses.

“Is there going to be a video game when the movie comes out, and how bad will it stink?” Answer: If you play videos, you know this kid is right. Why can’t they ever make a movie-based video game that’s halfway decent? They are ALL terrible (possible exception: a few Star Wars titles). There has been some interest in making a Percy Jackson game, but nothing is definite at this point. It’s up to Fox, which holds the rights, to decide whether or not a game is done, but if they do allow one, I’ll try to convince them to break tradition and create one that’s actually playable.

“If two half-bloods have a child, does that make the child a quarter-blood or what?” Answer: It depends. First of all, many half-bloods don’t live long enough to have kids! They lead dangerous lives. If they did have a child, that child might be able to pass for human unless the parents were very powerful, in which case the child might be much like any other half-blood.

We started the event at 6:30 and I finished signing around 9 PM. Thanks as usual to everyone being so patient. I even got to see my brother Brady, who was in town from Toronto with his girlfriend. Of course, it was a five-minute reunion in a sea of children, but hey, when you’re on tour, you take what you can get!

Today, I’m off to a signing at Wellesley Booksmith. I’m looking forward to meeting the demigods of Massachusetts.

I haven’t had much time to catch my breath or reflect, but I understand sales for Battle of the Labyrinth have been really good, and there is much jumping up and down and exclaiming of “Holy Moley!” in the Disney Publishing offices. That’s awesome and gratifying, but my favorite part is still hearing from all the parents who say the Percy Jackson books have gotten their kids reading, and the kids who say they didn’t like books until they discovered Percy. That makes it all worthwhile.

The dog-injured hand is better. Thanks for asking! I’ve lost count of how many books I’ve signed. No carpal tunnel yet, but the tour is only beginning. Hope to see you somewhere along my marathon run!

Rick Riordan