Looking Ahead

Happy Labor Day weekend to everyone in the U.S.! This three-day holiday offers me a chance to catch my breath, briefly, before the hectic fall travel season begins.
I’m looking forward to the release of The Maze of Bones on Sept. 9. I have been immersed in the world of Percy Jackson for the past few years and it’s been a while since I’ve published a non-Percy book, so it’ll be interesting to take a temporary side trip into the world of the Cahill family.

A word of advice to readers so you get in the right mindset: Do not expect The Maze of Bones to be a Percy Jackson book. It’s totally, totally different. I’ve even seen some people online calling 39 Clues a fantasy series, and that’s not correct. There are no monsters, no magic, no fantasy elements at all in the series. 39 Clues is a realistic thriller/adventure series. It’s got mystery, action, humor – yes. Will young readers enjoy it? I sure hope so! The early feedback has been very positive. But I don’t want anyone wondering, “Hey, where are the Greek gods?” Just go into the book with the understanding that it will be a different type of story, and I think the Cahills will quickly start to feel like old friends.

I’m only writing the first book in the series, but some dynamite authors have signed up for the other nine books. I’ve already read the top-secret manuscript for book two, One False Note by Gordon Korman, and I can tell you it rocks. Also, don’t worry about the publication schedule for Percy. We are right on track for publishing book five in May 2009. My participation in 39 Clues has not affected my writing for the Percy Jackson series at all.

In other news, I occasionally get emails from people wondering if the campers at Camp Half-Blood are related, since the gods are basically one big family, and if so, how could the campers date each other? This question is actually addressed in book five, but I’ve commented on it before on my blog. In case you missed it, here is a link to my explanation.

Finally, some of my recent reads — at least the ones I can discuss! I just finished The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. I feel like I’m coming late to the party, since a lot of readers have already discovered this series, but I enjoyed it very much — great cast of characters, lots of cool puzzles and mysteries. The book made me feel nostalgic, because it reminded me of some of the better children’s books I grew up with, like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Phantom Tollbooth. Stewart’s storytelling has an old-fashioned elegance to it, and yes, I mean that in the best possible way! The second book in the series is now out, and I will definitely be picking it up. I also got to read an advance copy of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. I’ve been a fan of the Gregor series for years, but The Hunger Games just blew me away. It’s a high-octane read that my older son Haley ripped through in two days.

Next on my list: The Magician by Michael Scott, which I’m reading with my younger son Patrick. We read The Alchemyst, the first book in the series together last year, and we’re looking forward to seeing what happens next with the characters. Scott does a great job blending history, myth, and modern-day action. Patrick is also making his way through Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, which is a minor miracle. Both my sons have been highly resistant to Harry Potter for years. They wanted nothing to do with the series, probably because by the time they were ready to read it, Harry Potter was so overexposed. There were Harry Potter birthday party decorations, Happy Meal toys, action figures, video games, movies, etc., etc. Every time they turned around, they felt like Harry Potter was being shoved down their throats. As a Harry Potter fan myself, I had trouble convincing them that the books were really good despite the hype. I’m glad Patrick’s finally giving them a try!

And now I’m off to spend some time with the kids. They owe me a rematch at Super Smash Brothers Brawl. I’m terrible, but I keep trying! We may even get to go swimming today if the rain holds off. Have a good holiday, everyone.

Rick Riordan