The penultimate installment of Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series, The House of Hades, was released this October with his demi-god heroes poised to defeat an army of giants. Riordan has his own giant to battle for the next several months as he shepherds the lauded series to a close. With an eager readership and enviable best-selling track record (more than 35 million books from his three series are in print in the U.S. alone), the odds of a successful finale are on his side. Here he gives the recipe for baiting loyal fans, admits an affinity for Hermes and gives a shout-out to Norse mythology.
What’s at the core of your series that renders your fans ravenous for more?
Part of it is the source material. I think Greek mythology is just a very high interest subject if it’s done well. It’s got everything you could possibly want for a good story—everything from humor to mystery to villains and heroes and monsters and magic. And then the other part of it is just simply taking those stories and modernizing them to freshen them up and make them seem relevant and humorous and something that kids today can relate to.
What are a couple of your favorite nuggets in House of Hades that could entice reluctant readers?
With House of Hades, I think it’s the most intense book that I’ve ever written for kids. It’s a tour of Tartarus, I mean the darkest maximum-security prison for monsters in the underworld. So if you’re looking for crazy, weird, scary monsters, this is definitely the book to pick up. If you’re looking for a lot of heroes with cool super powers, we have a cast of seven demi-gods here who are trying to learn to work together as a team to defeat this army of giants. There’s a lot going on, and there are a lot of different characters to relate to.
If teenaged Rick was at Camp Jupiter or Half-Blood, which deity would be your parent?
Boy, I wonder about that all the time. With my luck, it would be somebody like Dionysus and my secret power would be that I could summon Diet Coke. I don’t think I’d end up being very heroic. I’d probably be hiding in the bushes while the other kids fought the monsters. But I’ve always had a soft spot for Hermes just because he’s the god of so many things, especially travel and communication, which are both things that I enjoy. I would cross my fingers for Hermes.
Any hints at how you’re going to bring this series to a close next fall?
There’s one more book—The Blood of Olympus—that will be out next October and the trick is really to give each of the seven different heroes a satisfying ending to their own storylines. Now how I go about doing that, I can’t give away too much, but of course we will have the final conflict between our heroes and Gaea the Earth Mother and her army of giants (this has been building over the course of the whole series). So you’ll find out what happens with that and what happens with the two camps, Greek and Roman, and whether or not they reconcile.
After showcasing the Greek and Roman deities, a few of the Norse gods are feeling pretty left out. Rumor has it that you’re going to tackle these guys next.
Yeah, it’s kind of ironic because Norse mythology was really my first love. I fell in love with the stories of Thor and Loki and Odin ever since I was a kid. My uncles were great comic book collectors, so of course they had all The Mighty Thor comics. My parents used to read me Norse mythology series when I was young. So it’s kind of strange that I haven’t done something for them already but we’re gonna remedy that in 2015. I will be starting a Norse series. Same kind of thing: It will be a modernized spin on those ancient stories and I have the premise, I have the outline, and I’m ready to go as soon as Heroes of Olympus wraps up.
Gordon West is a writer and illustrator living in Brooklyn, New York. He is admittedly addicted to horror films and French macarons.