Percy Jackson author holds virtual launch for newest novel

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, October 14th, 2020 at 9:00 AM
Percy Jackson author holds virtual launch for newest novel by Cassandra Gripp

“Look, I didn’t want to be a half-blood.”

Fifteen years ago, what was originally a bedtime story for Rick Riordan’s son became a worldwide phenomenon, inspiring a total of three book series set within the Percy Jackson universe — “Percy Jackson and the Olympians,” “The Heroes of Olympus,” and “The Trials of Apollo” — as well as two films.

On Thursday, Oct. 8, I had the privilege of attending Riordan’s virtual launch for the concluding novel in his “Trials of Apollo” series (TOA), titled “The Tower of Nero.” The series, and its predecessors, were written at the middle-grade level but loved by people of all ages, containing many jaw-dropping, tear-jerking, and throw-the-book-across-the-room moments.

Being a Riordan superfan, it was bittersweet to sit down in a chatroom with hundreds of attendees, all shedding tears as we bid the beloved characters we’d grown up with farewell. 

As the black screen displayed the words, “The Trials of Uncle Rick,” the chatroom buzzed to life with delight upon seeing the kind-eyed, gray-haired man we’d come to know as Uncle Rick seated before us. Behind him, a copy of “The Tower of Nero” stood upright, its front cover glimmering in the light of his Boston home. 

Uncle Rick smiled at the camera, prefacing the road we’d traveled so far in reading the TOA series. It’s the story of the Greek god Apollo, who’s been cast down to earth by his father, Zeus, and punished with mortality until he can right the wrongs he’d done in “The Blood of Olympus,” the final book in TOA’s preceding series, “The Heroes of Olympus.” Along with redemption, Apollo faces down an all new line of horror in the form of three very nasty undead Roman emperors.

He also spoke excitedly about his upcoming projects, including a TV show adaptation of his “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series to be aired on Disney+, which is still in its early forms of production. 

Although he’s been deemed “storyteller of the gods” by Publishers Weekly, Riordan humbly shines the spotlight on lesser-known authors under his imprint Rick Riordan Presents, including Kwame Mbalia, author of the “Tristan Strong” books and a guest speaker at this event.  On the same day that “The Tower of Nero” was released, Mbalia’s sequel novel, “Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky,” hit the shelves. 

The men spent the next half hour discussing plot, mythology and characters. They discussed what’s coming next for the Tristan series and Riordan congratulated him on the success of his new novel.

As they parted ways, the event began winding down with a Q&A. Riordan answered questions with ease regarding his writing process and the inspiration behind his characters, most named after the wide variety of children he’d taught during his time as a middle school teacher. He stated, “All kids are important and it’s critical that they feel seen.”

As an author of over 30 books, Riordan continues to captivate his audience and leave his readers always wanting more. Although he has expressed that he is done series-writing for the Percy Jackson universe, it’s probable that we can find standalone novels about these characters on the shelves in years to come. I know I can’t wait.

You can buy the book now.

Cassandra Gripp is a staff writer for The Spectator. She can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com.

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