Hello, all! Hope your month is going well. It’s been a busy March at Athena House here in Boston…
First up, a big shout out to Graci Kim, whose debut The Last Fallen Star comes out from Rick Riordan Presents on May 4!
I recently did a Zoom interview with Graci, who lives in New Zealand, and we had a fantastic time talking about books, food, family, and all the other great things in life. She has amazing stories to share, and I will share a link to the interview as soon as it’s available online. In the meantime, The Last Fallen Star received its first starred review from Booklist: “a compelling and endearing supporting cast to the rich and tantalizing Korean cuisine explored in its pages, this pays homage to traditional Korean magic and mythos while infusing it with a contemporary story line and characters readers will fall in love with in an instant.” Indeed, you will fall in love with this book. You can preorder a copy now!
In other exciting news, Roshani Chokshi’s newest book in the blockbuster Aru Shah series, Aru Shah and the City of Gold, is out on April 6! To celebrate, Rosh and I will be doing a virtual event together with our amazing friends at BookPeople on April 6. I hope you can join us! The Aru Shah series just keeps getting better. The fourth is my favorite yet, and I can’t believe book five will wrap up the adventures! Ahhhhh! City of Gold recently got a starred review from Kirkus that called the book: “A soul and a story all in one. Beautifully written and a joy to read.” You can find all of Rosh’s virtual tour events here. Hope you can attend! Also, check out her recent visit to the Carlos Museum!
Two Graduations, of sorts
In the previous week, I graduated with my Masters in Gaelic Literature from University College Cork, which I undertook in preparation for writing about Irish mythology. Everything was online, of course, including the ceremony, but it was still a great honor to be among the graduates! You can read more about it in the Irish Times article.
I was planning to continue my studies by getting a PhD in Celtic Studies at Harvard. I was accepted in early 2020 and ready to go. Then the Hollywood stuff began to happen and I had to make the heartbreaking choice of which path to take, because I could only do one. I chose to decline my acceptance and go full-throttle into the world of Hollywood adaptations. Argh. I’m still a bit sad about it, because honestly I’d rather be learning Irish mythology than learning the TV/film industry, but that’s okay. I’m still reading a lot on my own and taking Irish language lessons once a week.
Here’s my cool Irish discovery of the week. In Irish, when you ask “What inspired you?” you use to verb tarraing, “to pull.” Literally you are asking, “Where did you pull the inspiration from?” It’s the same verb you use to talk about pulling a boat with a rope. In other words, the Irish don’t see inspiration as something that just falls on you from the sky. You have to actively pull it to you. You have to make the inspiration come to you. I love that, and I think it says a lot about why the Irish are such famously talented storytellers.
Also last week I received my official membership card for the Writers Guild of America East, made possible by my work on the Percy Jackson TV pilot. WGA is the main union of screenwriters, and is not easy to get into. Membership is another honor I certainly never thought I would receive. Like Irish, TV/film industry speak is definitely not my native language, but I am learning! Which brings me to the next updates…
Yes, that’s right… I still have nothing definite to report!!!! On the one hand, I know you guys are dying for info that doesn’t exist yet, and you want things to move faster. I get it! On the other hand, it’s kind of miraculous how much has happened in a year and a half, even with the pandemic slowing us down. For over ten years, I considered a new Percy Jackson adaptation pretty much impossible, certainly not with me being involved. Then in October 2019, as Fox was being absorbed by Disney, Becky and I saw an opportunity. We really started pushing, meeting with people in Hollywood, banging drums, waving our arms, etc., and with the help of our amazing film agent Ellen Goldsmith-Vein and her team, we started to see some very slow progress.
A year ago, we had just had our first exploratory meeting with the TV studio brass. Shortly after, we met our potential show runner. A few months later, we got a contract in place for production and writing services. Ever since, we have been working hard behind the scenes to get the pilot script ready and craft an outline for the whole first season (and beyond, if we get fortunate). We have now met with all the top folks at the studio and at Disney+ (and by the way, because of the Fox/Disney restructuring, everybody has changed jobs at least once, which made things even crazier). Just yesterday, we turned in the final revised script for the pilot, which reflects a few notes the execs had asked us to look at. We have also been working to put together a proposed budget. We have started talking about directors, concept artists, writers for the writers’ room, visual effects, and other critical jobs. We have begun talking about what the casting process will look like, though no, WE ARE STILL NOT CASTING YET.
This is all in anticipation that the studio execs will review our plans and preparations and give us the thumbs up to move forward. I need to stress that until we get that green light, NOTHING is confirmed or certain. I am optimistic. I think this is going to go forward. But we’re not there yet, so please keep those good thoughts coming and keep your fingers crossed. I do hope we get to make this show, because after a year of working on the pilot, I can safely say I think you guys will love it.
We also continue work with the feature film project for The Red Pyramid at Netflix, and are having conversations about a possible feature film adaptation for my forthcoming book Daughter of the Deep. Both promise to be very excited! Of course, I will share more news when I can.
Rick reads Dante
Finally, I decided to celebrate Dante Day, March 25, by reading some Dante in the original Italian. I have continued taking twice-weekly lessons with my friends at Scuola Toscana, which includes a lot of Italian reading. I am very slowly making my way through The Divine Comedy, a canto here and a canto there, along with reading Boccaccio’s Decameron, selections from Petrarch, and many later Italian authors like Calvino, Manzone and Sciascia. It’s so satisfying being able to read these great works as they were written, even if it’s a huge challenge for me!
Until next time, stay well and read some good books!