Ballad & Dagger
To continue with the bookish festivities (always my favorite kind), Daniel José Older’s Ballad & Dagger is now out in the world, and I highly recommend picking up a copy for yourself or someone you love. Our first young adult novel from Rick Riordan Presents, Ballad & Dagger is full of magic, music and mystery! You can read my full review here, and check out a video interview I got to do with Daniel.
Aru Shah and the Nectar of Immortality
Also, Roshani Chokshi’s fifth and final Aru Shah novel, Aru Shah and the Nectar of Immortality, is now available. It is the perfect ending to a brilliant series. We started the Rick Riordan Presents imprint with Aru Shah, so it’s bittersweet to say goodbye to this beloved character. Rosh set a high bar for us. She set the tone for the whole imprint and delivered a blockbuster. You can read a lovely interview with her here about finishing up the series. One good thing about the series wrapping up, though: If you’re the kind of reader who likes to wait until an entire series is available before getting it, now is the time. You can enjoy all five volumes with no waiting!
The Last Fallen Moon
And coming up very quickly is Graci Kim’s incredible second Gifted Clans novel: The Last Fallen Moon. I am over the moon about this one! Get it? Actually, yes, you should get it. You can pre-order here!
“Rick,” you say, “I can’t keep up with all these amazing middle grade books from the Rick Riordan Presents imprint! How many hilarious, action-packed, mythology-infused novels can the world hold?” I am not sure, dear reader, but we are going to find out. What a wonderful problem to have!
And speaking of wonderful problems . . .
My First Week at the Studios
What a week it has been! I have to say, it’s strange reporting for a 9-to-5 job for the first time in twenty years. I thought I would be ‘semi-retired’ by now, going back to school to get my PhD. Instead, I am working harder than ever. This marked my first full week on-site as executive producer for the Percy Jackson and the Olympians TV show. The experience has already been incredible.
Unless you work in the industry, you would not believe how many people it takes to create a television show. Several times a day, we will be sitting in a board room with twenty folks, with half a dozen more joining on Zoom, just to figure out how to film a five-minute sequence in one episode. What cameras do we use? What stunts are required? What equipment do we need? What is CGI and what will be live? Fortunately, I don’t have to know all those answers. We have an A+ team of experts doing the math and physics behind getting these scenes right. I am there for ‘big picture’ stuff: How should it feel? How was it done in the books? How are the characters reacting? That kind of stuff. It has been a special thrill watching our director James Bobin lead this amazing production. His vision and his sense of humor are perfect for Percy Jackson. I also got to tag along on a scouting visit this week, where we all climb aboard a shuttle bus and investigate sites around the Greater Vancouver area that might be used in the filming of the series. I can’t tell you exactly where we went, but if you want a hint, re-read the chapter “A God Buys us Cheeseburgers” in The Lightning Thief.
You also wouldn’t believe how quickly our young trio of heroes has coalesced into a team. They are doing high-flying stunts, learning their swordplay, fine-tuning their knowledge of Greek mythology and their characters — all while going to school on site at the studios! And of course, they have found the best snacks in the break room. If you want to know where the best snacks are, ask a middle-schooler. They have counseled me on trying the deluxe hot chocolate (not the regular stuff) and the dried seaweed packets, which are delicious. (A certain very funny kid may or may not have quipped: ‘Hey, my head is full of that!’) The feeling in the studio is one of joy and excitement, and the cast we have in place is nothing less than demigodly.
My occasional reminder that I am not on social media and have not been for quite some time. Becky and Ashlee, our social media coordinator, let me know in general terms how things are going, but that’s it. I personally no longer read, post or repost content. I only use this blog to give you all the latest news. Also, please be aware that my comments have been closed on all social media platforms for two years now. This is nothing new, and applies to all posts regardless of content.
All that said, I am delighted to hear about the overwhelmingly positive response to the casting announcements. It is well-founded! Rest assured, these actors are 100% my choices, my decisions, and I could not be happier with how things are going. If you have any doubts, wait until you see them act in the show. You’ll quickly see why I chose them, and why I am so confident!
Today, I am enjoying the beautiful sunny weekend in Vancouver, but I am looking forward to Monday when I can go back to work! That’s a statement you might not hear often, but it should tell you something about how this production is going.
Oh, and a cool random fact I came across this weekend while re-reading my Greek mythology. For inspiration, I often do this — going back to the earliest source material, and also reviewing seminal works like Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth and Greg Nagy’s The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours. Did you know that the “gray” in “gray-eyed Athena” doesn’t necessarily translate as a color? I liked the idea of her having stormy gray eyes, and always described her that way in my books, but the Ancient Greek term γλαυκῶπις can also be translated as “bright-eyed,” as in wise or perceptive, and shares a root with γλαύξ, which means “owl,” Athena’s sacred bird. In other words, Athena has bright eyes like an owl. Who says they have to be gray? Not this owl!
Enjoy your week, demigods, and read some good books!