New York Times Bestselling author Rick Riordan is a former teacher and father of two whose novels about Greek Mythology have inspired kids across the country and around the world. For his latest book, “The Sword of Summer” Rick switched gears from Ancient Greek Mythology to Norse Mythology, something he’s loved since he was a kid.
Rick Riordan was kind enough to join me for an interview this week to discuss his new book “The Sword of Summer.” He dished on what inspired him to write it, the book’s main character Magnus Chase who happens to be the son of a Norse God, the research that went into writing the book, how he got involved in ADHD/dyslexia awareness and much more.
Candace Rose: Can you tell us about your new book “The Sword of Summer”? What inspired you to write it?
Rick Riordan: “The Sword of Summer’ is about Norse Mythology, the old stories of the vikings – Thor, Loki, Odin but it’s set in modern day Boston. It’s about Magnus Chase who is a 16 year old homeless kid. He lives on the streets of Boston, but he finds out his life story is a whole lot more complicated than he realized. His dad is actually a Norse God, the nine worlds of viking mythology are still out there, dwarves, elves, fire giants – the whole shebang and he’s got to interact with all of them during the course of the book.”
Candace Rose: What made you decide to switch gears from ancient Greek Mythology to Norse Mythology for this novel?
Rick Riordan: “I love all kinds of mythology. I was a teacher for years, I taught social studies, history, English, and of course mythology plays into all of that. Coming back to the Norse Mythology, really for me was returning home. I have loved the Norse stories since I was a kid. They’re just so ridiculously funny and crude. Basically I think the vikings invented middle school humor which is kind of where I live, so it was a natural fit. I’m really glad that I finally got to do a series based on these.”
Candace Rose: As you mentioned the main character Magnus Chase is the son of a Norse God. Can you tell us about your research into Norse Mythology and what that experience was like?
Rick Riordan: “It’s really interesting because with the viking tales, the vikings didn’t write a lot of stuff down so we don’t have as many primary sources for their mythology as we do with Greece and Rome. I did read the original Lor, I read the old stories from Norway and Iceland, and I had to do a little bit of guesswork to kind of fill in the blanks about what the Gods were like. It was fascinating stuff! Some of this stuff is just so crazy, it’s hard to figure out how to even use it and have it make sense in a modern setting.”
Candace Rose: What’s next for Magnus and the trilogy?
Rick Riordan: “It’s going to be the next book, ‘The Hammer of Thor.’ As the title indicates, he has to be looking for a fairly famous missing weapon. Thor seems to lose his hammer a lot in Norse Mythology…I don’t know what’s up with that? Once again Magnus will be on the job and that book will be out next fall.”
Candace Rose: Why do you think the fantasy genre is so popular these days?
Rick Riordan: “Fantasy is something that appeals especially to kids because I think it’s a way of escape from the modern mundane world, but it’s also a way to explore really heavy issues without it seeming too dangerous to them. They can think about things like ‘What am I going to be when I grow up?’ ‘What would it be like if my parents weren’t around?’ ‘What does make a good friend and who am I going to be in life?’ So you can explore all of those things in fantasy and it feels a little safer.”
Candace Rose: As you mentioned, you were a teacher for many years. Did you always know you wanted to become a novelist and do you ever miss teaching?
Rick Riordan: “I didn’t always know that I wanted to be a novelist. I dabbled with writing when I was a kid, put it down for a while and went back to it. Really, the books came from bedtime stories that I started telling my son when he was in elementary school and that’s where the books came out of it. As for teaching, yes I still have dreams that I’m in the classroom and I need to grade a set of papers, I need to finish a lesson plan. I loved teaching, but I kind of feel like I have the best of both worlds – I’m still a teacher, it’s just that now I have several million kids in my classroom.”
Candace Rose: You’re very committed to ADHD and dyslexia awareness. What inspired you to get involved?
Rick Riordan: “Well, when I was telling those bedtime stories to my son, the reason was that my son had just been diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia. That’s his personal struggle, and that’s why Percy Jackson, the original character that I wrote about is an ADHD/dyslexic kid. In my world he finds out that’s a sign that you might be a demigod, you might be very special indeed. It’s kind of my way of telling kids anybody can be a hero. It doesn’t matter what your learning style is or where you’re from, you can be a hero.”
Candace Rose: Well, thank you so much, Rick. Where can we go for more information and to purchase “Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 1: The Sword of Summer?”
Rick Riordan: “The Sword of Summer’ is available anywhere that you can buy books, and for more information feel free to visit my website, which is just my name: RickRiordan.com.”