Dear Rick, Love Cathy
Below, a note from Blue Willow Events Coordinator Cathy Berner on the enduring magic of "Uncle" Rick Riordan, whose final book in the Camp Half-Blood Chronicles is out this month.
Fifteen years ago, Valerie handed me a book called The Lightning Thief and asked me to read it. I had just started working at the shop on a very part time basis—my kids were in preschool and kindergarten. I can still remember the silver cover with a gorgon, a minotaur, and a three-headed dog. And I vividly remember how I felt when I read the first few pages—I knew I was holding something special.
Since Rick lived in San Antonio, his publisher sent him on a small-ish tour for the first book. We begged children to come to our shop in West Houston and promised pizza—as well as the chance to read something amazing. For The Sea of Monsters, we had a very nice crowd of 40-50. We’re honored to have hosted Rick many times since, most recently partnering with school districts to fill 1,000-person auditoriums in pre-pandemic times.
As the Camp Half-Blood Chronicles come to a close with the publication of The Tower of Nero, book five in the Trials of Apollo series, I’m looking back on the past 15 years and what Rick has given my family, my colleagues, and readers around the world. My children became readers due in no small part to Rick’s books. Percy was a constant in our house. Jesse Bernstein’s narration of the first Percy Jackson audiobook series was the soundtrack of their elementary school years. We listened to the books over and over again and we never tired of them. I’ll never forget when the kids had a chance to spend a few days at BookPeople’s amazing Camp Half-Blood in Austin (thanks, Topher Bradfield!) which only deepened their connection to the series.
Blue Willow Bookshop had hosted some large events before Rick’s popularity exploded, and we were fortunate to host Rick for many of the books in the extended Percyverse. Partnering with his publishing team taught us how to run large events effectively and efficiently. We know how to harness a team of 25 high school students to unpack and stack 1,200 books and to run them by an author in a smooth-running conveyor belt that gets them signed in 60 minutes. That’s the truth—he actually signs them, one by one! Pulling off a 1,000-person event is exhausting, but I know my co-workers will not forget the joy on readers' faces when they walked out the door.
Through the Percy Jackson books and related titles, Rick provided representation to LGBTQ readers, to readers with learning differences, and to so many others. More recently, he created Rick Riordan Presents (RRP), an imprint that specializes in middle grade books from underrepresented cultures and backgrounds and publishes #OwnVoices stories inspired by the mythology and folklore of the authors' own heritage. He’s a force for good in the book industry, and I know his work is changing lives.
Thank you, Rick. Thank you for Percy, Annabeth, Clarice, Grover, Nico, and so many other wonderful characters. Thank you for writing books that remain a thread binding my family together. Thank you for providing joy to millions of readers. Thank you for creating books (whether your own or those of RRP) that allow readers to be seen, to know that their stories matter.
We cannot wait to see what you do next.
At last, the breathtaking, action-packed finale of the #1 bestselling Trials of Apollo series is here!