Rick Riordan was planning to semi-retire after finishing The Tower of Nero, the last book in the Trial of Apollo series and the sequel series to Heroes of Olympus. Riordan outlined this plan when he sat down with The Guardian last month. He was going back to school to get a Ph.D. in Celtic mythology at Harvard at the time, when Disney called to pitch an idea: adapting the Percy Jackson series for Disney+.
Fans of Riordan’s novels will be forgiven if the idea of a new Percy Jackson adaptation is underway. In 2009, The Lightning Thief (the first book in the series) was released. It was notoriously panned by critics and fans alike but was given a sequel. The sequel, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, was similarly denounced by fans, causing any subsequent sequels to be canceled. Riordan himself hated the adaptation, famously saying in a letter:
“The script as a whole is terrible. I don’t simply mean that it deviates from the book, though certainly, it does that to a point of being almost unrecognizable as the same story. Fans of the books will be angry and disappointed. They will leave the theater in droves and generate horrible word of mouth.”
So when Disney called, Riordan had to make a decision. He knew the fans wanted a new adaptation.
Image via the guardian
Rick Riordan has always cared deeply for his fans. When J.K. Rowling faces backlash for her transphobic views, Riordan is celebrated for his characters’ diversity. Riordan explains his reasonings:
“All of the kids I write about, at one time or another, have been in my classroom. I feel very protective of them. I am very aware of my responsibility to do right by them, to make them feel safe. One of the greatest things about interacting with the fans is when they come up to me and say, ‘this is the first time that I saw a character like me, and I felt so validated; it helped me through a really rough time.’ To think that maybe, at least in some cases, I had some role in building a sense of acceptance is amazing.”
It was the fans that inspired Riordan to expand the Percy Jackson universe and explore other mythologies. “There were a lot of reasons I decided to keep going,” he said. “But as more readers discovered it and wanted to be included in the world, I felt like it was a really special and important opportunity to expand the range of characters in Percy’s world.” This led to the creation of characters like the beloved Nico Di Angelo, the son of Greek God Hades, who is gay, and Alex Fierro, the gender-fluid child of Loki from his Gods of Asgard series. In 2017, Riordan won a stonewall award for his portrayal of LGBT characters.
Since 2005, Rick Riordan has published at least two books a year. He currently doesn’t have anything under contract, but that doesn’t mean he’s not writing. The only thing he’s revealed so far is that it has nothing to do with mythology. So be on the look out for it… whenever he’ll publish it.