Greetings, all! Here is your occasional round-up of news from the Riordanverse.
The Sun and the Star
If you missed the news, the Nico di Angelo adventure The Sun and the Star, co-written by me and Mark Oshiro, is now available for pre-order! The publication date for US/UK markets is May 2, 2023. Here is the British cover, same awesome art by Khadijah Khatib, just different lettering.
Some follow-up questions answered:
Is this a stand-alone or the start of a series?
It is meant to be a stand-alone adventure. I am not ruling out that we might see more adventures of Nico and Will sometime in the future, in some manner, but there are no immediate plans for that. Right now, because of all the different projects I have going in the TV/film space, I am trying to do one book at a time because it is slightly easier to pivot from project to project that way.
Do I need to read the Trials of Apollo before I read The Sun and the Star?
Apollo is offended you would even ask, but just between you and me, no, you wouldn’t necessarily need to read those first. This adventure stands on its own. On the other hand, it does happen after The Trials of Apollo, so it will make a lot more sense to you if you read those books. And it will certainly contain spoilers from that series. The Tower of Nero, in particular, sets up the plot that is happening in The Sun and the Star.
Will we see other characters from Percy Jackson’s world in The Sun and the Star?
Oh, absolutely. Mark had a lot of fun concocting all sorts of juicy updates for other characters, which I fully endorse! For details, you have to wait and read the book.
Rick Riordan Presents news
The Lords of Night is now out in the world — a new adventure of Maya and Aztec mythology from J.C. Cervantes — and as usual, it is incredible! You can order a copy from readriordan.com! The world is a better place with J.C. Cervantes’ books in it.
I’m also delighted to confirm that Roshani Chokshi has written a new adventure for the Rick Riordan Presents imprint, The Spirit Glass, this time exploring the other side of her family heritage and delving into the folklore and mythology of the Philippines. This is a book I have been wanting for decades. I learned so much, and had so much fun doing it! This is one of the top requests we get for world mythologies to explore, and Rosh has done the Philippines proud. More news asap on release date, cover reveal, etc.!
We are making good progress on season one! We have about three full months of filming to go, which means we’re pretty much exactly on schedule. The cast and crew are in good spirits, and the shots we see from the dailies continue to impress me. Becky and I are back in Boston for the time being, visiting our sons, doing some home maintenance, checking in on the pets, that sort of thing, but soon enough we will head back to Vancouver to join the gang at the studio. It really is a great bunch of people, and a happy place to work. The only hazard is that a certain Mr. Scobell sometimes likes to sneak up behind me in the producers’ tent and surprise me (he really is the perfect Percy) but so far I have not had a heart attack, so it’s all good.
We also recently got to celebrate Leah Jeffries’ thirteenth birthday (Sept. 25) on set. If you missed the pictures that were shared on social media, here is a look:
The birthday cake was ice cream. It melted. It was still good. The shoes were a gift from the producing team. We’d gotten an inside scoop that Leah had been wanting that particular pair. I told her she’d need to let me know whether or not they could sprout wings and fly. If you look closely, you’ll see Leah’s ANNABETH CHASE director’s chair, and perhaps a certain fashion accessory Annabeth is never without. This young lady is so, so talented. She is Annabeth to a tee, and when you see her in the show, you will immediately understand why. We are delighted and lucky to have her in the PJO family. Happy birthday!
In other news, puppy alert! One of our staff members is now training a service dog, and while I could not pet him while he had his vest on, I was allowed to take a picture.
Does he not look like the goodest of boys? And he sure likes chewing on that tree branch.
I got to meet another dog as well, who will actually appear in the show. Can you guess? I can’t give you any other hints yet, but SO CUTE.
We’ve also started to have visits on set from some of the gods . . . Again, can’t give you any hints, but if you’ve read The Lightning Thief, you can probably take some good guesses which gods I mean. Casting news? Nothing I can announce. Good things come to those who wait.
So what’s the process from here? Well, in terms of content, we are about up to chapter sixteen in the book, though as I’ve shared before, we don’t film in strict chronological order. Once a ‘block’ of filming is complete (meaning the principal photography for two episodes) the director of that block begins piecing together the scenes into a director’s cut, choosing which takes they like best for each scene. They then send it to us, the producers, to do a producer’s cut (like a second draft) which eventually goes to the studio for approval. At each step, notes are given, improvements are discussed, changes are made. We have begun that process now for the first couple of episodes, though we have a ways to go. It really is incredible how different two cuts can be of the same episode. If you saw the original “Justice League,” then saw the Snyder cut, you have some idea what I’m talking about. It’s almost a completely different film, right? I have full input in everything that happens, and I have been delighted by the results so far. It’s a huge relief, after waiting so many years and working so hard, to watch a sort-of final product and think, “Oh, thank the gods. This works!”
When I say “final product,” these cuts are still very unfinished. None of the special effects have been added. The music is just placeholder music. We have to use our imagination to picture what the final episode will look like. That work, post production or just “post,” will take almost an entire year, from what I understand. Have you ever seen those T-shirts that say “We’ll fix it in post”? I now understand what that means.
Long story short? I am happy with this show, folks. And I think you will be too.
Finally, for your amusement, I present some of my recent discoveries as a novice to the film industry:
More Film/TV Lingo:
HMW – This appears on every call sheet, with a time for each actor, like “HMW: 9:00AM.” Being a teacher, I thought it meant “homework,” but that didn’t make sense for the adult actors. Then I asked around. A lot of producers weren’t sure what it meant either. We looked it up online and got suggestions like “haste makes waste” or “hot mess walking,” neither of which seemed right. Finally, we puzzled it out: HAIR, MAKEUP, WARDROBE. Duh, Rick!
BG — background. This is for actors who are making cameo appearances as pedestrians, commuters, restaurant patrons, extra students, or whatever. On some days, there could be as many as fifty or a hundred of these folks. Being an extra is not nearly as glamorous as it sounds. These actors work all day long for just a few seconds on screen, doing the same shot over and over. They spend most of their time just waiting between takes. “BG Holding” is where the extras wait, often for hours, until they are needed. They get paid, and it’s a regular job for many of them, but it’s hard work!
Pumpkin — A verb referring to when child actors have to stop working at the end of the day according to labor laws. It is written on each day’s call sheet, for example: “BG Kids pumpkin at 8:30pm.” For those who don’t know the Cinderella story about the coach turning into a pumpkin at midnight, the reference could be a little confusing.
EOD – End of day, as in, “I will get this to you by end of day.” Actual meaning: “I will get this to you eventually.”
TOW: Top of the week: As in, “We will connect at the top of the week.” Actual meaning: “We will talk by next Thursday afternoon.”
EOW: End of week. As in, “I will submit by end of week.” Actual meaning: “You will get this 4AM on Saturday morning.”
“Not a Hollywood type”: This is the biggest and most important compliment you can give about someone who works in Hollywood. It means they are a ‘straight shooter,’ real, honest, not driven by ego, good to work with. Fortunately I’ve found that the people I work with in Hollywood are great and “not Hollywood types.”
Excited — this modifier should be sprinkled liberally in all your correspondence with the Film/TV industry. Everyone is always excited about everything. If you’re not “excited to talk,” “excited to read,” “excited to meet,” “excited to watch,” you are doing something wrong. A close corollary to this rule is “amazing.” Nothing is ever okay, good or even great. It is amazing. Can you meet tomorrow? Amazing! Does ten o’clock work? Amazing! How’s the work going? Amazing!
A last random observation:
Big revelation! Maybe this is going to sound obvious, but I had never appreciated before exactly why the TV/film industry plays so fast and loose when they are adapting a book for the screen. (And to be clear: This is not a commentary on the adaptation process for Percy. That has been very collaborative and I remain quite happy with the results. This is just a general realization that helped me put things into context and better understand how book-to-screen adaptations can go so wildly wrong.) For a novelist, the book is a final product. We work very hard to revise and polish and get everything perfect ahead of time, because once that book is out in the world, it is pretty much frozen for all time. Sure, you can issue corrections if needed in later e-versions or future printings, but 99.9% of all copies are going to remain first editions for most books, so you are stuck with what you published the first time around. In Hollywood, the written word is never the final product. It is only ever a means to an end, and the words of a script are always changing right up until the moment they are filmed. You can even change them afterwards in post production. So it’s no wonder screenwriters look at a book and see it as raw material to be shaped, not canonical text to be followed. For the film industry, the idea of sticking to what is written on a page makes no sense. It is a major difference in perspective between the two industries.
Bridging the worlds of film and publishing is getting a lot easier, but it is still tough. I approach it the same way I approach learning a new language. Even after two and a half years learning, I still struggle with fluency. I’ve found it a fascinating challenge, though. And as I’ve said before, I am in awe of just how hard film people work and how dedicated they have to be to bring something to the screen. Every minute or every show you watch requires hundreds of people working several weeks to create.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for me to pumpkin. I will connect with you again EOW, and it will be so exciting and amazing!