This weekend, I attended a book signing by Rick Riordan at Kepler's Books in Menlo Park, CA. The event was in honor of the publication of the fifth and final book in the Percy Jackson series, The Last Olympian. Despite the best efforts of the Kepler's staff, it was a complete madhouse - some 600+ people crammed into a single store, all with books they wanted signed.
But it was amazing, too. Hundreds of kids choosing to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon at a bookstore. Kids waiting more or less patiently in line for hours, that eager to meet an author. Kids treating said author like a rock star (my friend Camille, who blogs at Book Moot, calls him Rockstar Rick Riordan). It was a beautiful thing. (The pictures to the right were taken about 30 minutes before the signing, and give you some idea of how mobbed this event was.)
The event stared with Rick speaking to a packed crowd for just a few minutes, and then answering questions from the kids. He talked about his time working as a teacher in the Bay Area, and how the first seeds for the Percy Jackson series came from experiences that he had in California. It was a nice tie-in for the local crowd.
Here are a few highlights from the Q&A:
Rick's favorite characters from the series: Grover and Tyson. (I agree. I especially love Tyson)
Greek parent that Rick would like to have, if he were a Half-Blood: Poseidon.
Greek parent that Rick thought he would actually have: Dionysus, or someone else like that.
Rick's favorite myth: Orpheus
On whether the movie set for The Lightning Thief accurately represents Camp Half-Blood: The best pictures are always the ones in your head, so it's always hard to see the movie at first (though he was in general wowed by the movie set - see here for details).
And the two pieces of news that elicited screams of excitement from the crowd:
1. Rick is working on a second series about Camp Half-Blood, with the first book due out in late 2010, featuring next generation characters. He promised that some of the characters that we know and love will be there in the background, though not the major focus of the new stories.
2. He is also working on a new book based on Egyptian mythology, and promises that next spring, "the Gods of Egypt will be invading the modern world." Boy, is that series going to be huge.
You could tell during the Q&A that the author was a former teacher. All of his attention was for the kids. The signing portion felt like a parade, with people everywhere, and everyone there had books in hand. They even had a wheel that you could spin, to see which of the "Big 3" gods was your father. (The picture shows my better half, spinning the wheel. He landed on Hades. But we thought that the wheel was rigged - most people seemed to land on Hades.)
We had to wait in line ourselves for about an hour, but it was time well spent. I was impressed by the many parents who took time out on a Saturday afternoon to bring their kids to a celebration of books. Seeing kids, and their parents, treating any author like a rockstar is an inspiration.