Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan by Rick Riordan has captivated two generations of readers*)
Fiction — from 2005 to now 16 printed millions of copies—and other books based on Greek, Norse, and Egyptian mythology.
He is also shepherding the long awaited
Percy Jackson Disney+ TV series – currently in post-production, premiere date TBD – ten years ago, the feature film based on the first two books was well received by fans (and the authors themselves) praise. Riordan also holds a publishing imprint to highlight the authors and myths of historically underrepresented cultures and is featured in Percy Jackson’s sixth book The Holy Grails A revisit of his most famous role, set for release in September.
Are there specific elements in the book that you really want to make sure belong to the series?
One thing we all agree on is that we should do everything we can to protect Percy Jackson, Percy Jackson. It’s a mix of modern setting, classic mythology, action and humor. One of the ways this is shown is by making sure we find actors who are the right age for Percy to be at the beginning of the book so the audience can watch Percy [Walker Scobell ] and Annabeth [Leah Sava Jeffries] and Grover [Aryan Simhadri] grew up on screen the way you read about them growing up to 12 in five books. I’m certainly glad we did because the young actors we found were great.
How did the opportunity to adapt these books for TV come back to you? I know you’re not really into the movies and don’t like the way they were adapted.
For a long time, I just assumed it was true for me and the TV and movie industry— — We tried it, but it didn’t work. Once the rights are sold, it’s almost there. What has changed is Disney’s acquisition of Fox (which produced both films). Disney has long been Percy Jackson’s publisher. Talking to my wife [Becky], I think we both said, you know, there might be an opportunity here. We were hesitant to do this – I haven’t had the best experience before. It’s not an industry I know, nor one I sincerely want to be a part of. It’s not something I ever dreamed about [laughs]
, being a producer. I am very happy to write a book. But I know book fans really, really want a good adaptation, try again. So it’s really for them. We’re all for it, and that’s been a major part of what we’ve done for the past three years.
How did the Rick Riordan Presents imprint come about?
Over the years, young readers have asked me if I would be interested in doing other myths. They want to see Percy Jackson play Chinese mythology or Aztec mythology, or a different West African mythology, whatever it is. As much as I love all the mythology in the world, I’m just a little uncomfortable with the idea. Because I didn’t really grow up on those myths, I grew up on Greece and Rome and Norse [mythology] and even Egypt—I mean, I grew up knowing that. But [similar to] Indian mythology, I like it, but I’m not an expert. So I talked to my editor and I think it could be more authentic and interesting and a more positive thing for publishing as a whole if, instead of me trying to write all these books, I could turn to the publishing side and start imprinting , where I would simply support other writers doing their own forays into their mythology and the culture they grew up in.
What do you think the publishing world gets out of this type of project?
I think there are many good things about publishing, and I’m not going to take full credit for it. It’s an industry-wide movement — we just wanted to provide a proof of concept, and what Rick Riordan came up with was a way of saying, “Look, these stories are great, there’s a market, the authors are out there, and they need support.” You get The advantage is a broader author base, as well as a wider readership. For a young person to go to the library and pick up a book and see this adventure with a kid who looks like them on the cover talking about stories from their traditions and culture is very empowering things. Not only that, but seeing the author who wrote that book look like them and come from a similar background opened up the idea that stories aren’t just for one group of people, they’re for everyone.
You stand up for Leah Sava Jeffries powerfully And out when there was backlash for her role in the series. Why is this important to you?
For Leah, she shouldn’t have to deal with that. She should be allowed to pursue her career and her art and be recognized as a talented actress who gets the part because she deserves it and not deal with the speculation it’s just this or just that-” It’s a quota, it’s sobriety, “whatever, blah, blah, blah. I’m not too happy with that. I will always be a teacher first and it was a teachable moment. That moment where I needed to say, “Okay, wait a minute. Let’s check, let’s check what you’re saying and why you’re saying it.” Racism, I believe, isn’t something we either have or don’t have. That’s the wrong talk. I think we all have this tendency. I mean, to believe anything else is to ignore the whole of human civilization. Racism, colorism, it has always been with us. So saying “Oh, I’m not racist” doesn’t help us. Of course we are. The real question is, do we recognize it? Will we try? Or do we deny it? Those are the choices. That’s the conversation I’m trying to frame – attacking a young girl who works really hard is clearly not a valid thing to do, and gets knocked out of the hundreds of other young actresses we’ve seen because she’s so good at embodying soul, that The character’s personality. She shouldn’t have to deal with that. I want her to know that I’m standing behind her 12%. Percy Jackson series whole class stands behind her unconditionally.
Write Percy again for Holy Grails What’s it like?
I’m a little apprehensive about going back to Percy’s voice, as it’s been quite Ever since I wrote a novel from Percy’s point of view. But it’s kind of like putting on a pair of comfortable jeans. This is very, very familiar to me. Writing a book is by no means easy, but it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I love it, especially since I’ve been adapting The Lightning Thief
, and as you know, for the show, I’ve been going back to my Percy roots Jackson kind of Take it apart, see its components, and remind myself how I started writing this story. The timing is really good.
I also asked my children who are readers of your work and have some questions. I am 8 years old asked by my son, what made you want to create The Chronicles of Kane ?
The Kane Chronicles was interesting to me because I’ve always loved Egyptian mythology, but nothing like a lot of extant Like Greek mythology. We have fragments. We have some little stories from Egyptian mythology that are not well known. I certainly didn’t understand it as well as I thought I would when I started researching it. This was my chance to do something different outside of the Greek and Roman world. It was a lot of fun for me and an opportunity to learn more about a myth I’ve always admired.
His twin sister wondered if you would write a book based on Chinese or Irish mythology?
Chinese, probably not. That’s what I’m going to leave to the authors of the Rick Riordan Presents, we’ve got a few published. As far as Irish is concerned, yes – I recently completed a Gaelic MA at University College Cork, Ireland. One reason for this was that I was preparing to explore my own ancestral background and the language of mythology. I’ve been doing a lot of background research on this. The first thing I post is my own take on the great Irish hero Finn McCool. I wrote his origin story, basically in the anthology The Cursed Carnival that came out last year. But yes, there is a lot of thought seeping through the background.
and my oldest, who is 11, curious what inspired Magnus Chase and the God of Asgard ?
I love Norse mythology. This is so much fun. We were moving to Boston when I started that series, so I decided to put it in Boston. I had a thought in my head, if you were a hero and happened to die in battle with a sword in your hand, in modern times, does that mean the Valkyries are still there and they pick up your soul and take you to Valhalla? What will Valhalla look like? I started running with this idea and I decided to make Valhalla a hotel and have it in Boston.
Interview edited for length and clarity.
A version of this story first appeared in the June 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter. Click here to subscribe. 1235144029