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Rick Riordan brings stories to Iowa City

HS journalism: Acclaimed author talked about his many Greek tales

Rick Riordan talks to a sold-out crowd at the Englert Theatre earlier this month about his many books that deal with Greek mythology. (Alyson Kuennen/I.C. West)
Rick Riordan talks to a sold-out crowd at the Englert Theatre earlier this month about his many books that deal with Greek mythology. (Alyson Kuennen/I.C. West)

IOWA CITY — His stories bring ancient myths out of history textbooks and into the hands of millennial readers across the world.

Starting in Massachusetts and working his way across the United States on a nine-day, nine-city tour, Rick Riordan came to the Englert Theatre for the Magnus Chase Tour presented by Prairie Lights and the UNESCO City of Literature on Oct. 7.

The release of his new novel — “The Hammer of Thor” — resulted in a sold-out crowd, drawing people from as far as Hardington, Ohio, to be a part of this Norwegian-based kickoff to his second book in the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series.

“Every time I finish a series I think, ‘OK that’s it, I have now done everything about Greek mythology,’ and every time I’m wrong,” Riordan said. “Because the deeper you go into mythology, the more you find. More gods, more monsters, more weird stories; and I keep finding things to write about. In this series (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard), this was the first time I wrote in the point of view of a god.”

Other than Norwegian mythology, Riordan dove into Greek, Roman and Egyptian mythology with the Percy Jackson series, The Heroes of Olympus and The Kane Chronicles because he “(grew) up with them.” Therefore, other cultures like Hindu, Chinese, Aztec and more are myths that in Riordan’s mind, will be better told by others.

“We’re going to start an imprint, a subsection of Disney Publishing called ‘Rick Riordan Presents’ and instead of me writing all of the mythologies we are going to look for authors who already are writing about that stuff,” Riordan said. “If I feel like I can recommend them (to my readers) ... we’re going to have them out here in the spotlight. We’re hoping to have the first books in Rick Riordan Presents come out in 2018, and we are looking for them right now.”

Along with searching for new mythological stories, Riordan busied himself with other projects coming out in May of 2017, such as the second book to the Trials of Apollo, “The Dark Prophecy,” an addition to the tales of Percy Jackson with “Camp Half-Blood Confidential” and the first “Percy Jackson Coloring Book.” But the most exciting reveal came with the announcement of the final book to his latest series.

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“Next October ... which I can announce to you for the first time here today: ‘The Ship of the Dead,’” Riordan said revealing the cover for the audience. “And for you fangirls out there, I don’t mean ‘ship’ like relationship.”

Yet after developing a franchise so acclaimed it was produced into a movie, one that he has never actually seen, Riordan said none of his success would have been possible without the inspiration by his son, Haley.

“He was having a really tough time in elementary school. He did not like reading, he did not like writing. It turns out he has ADHD and he’s dyslexic, like Percy Jackson and the only thing he liked that year in school was Greek mythology,” Riordan said. “So I started telling him stories from the Greek myths at home ... for bedtime to keep him interested in school, and when I ran out of stories he said, ‘Dad, tell me another one.’”

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