I go back and research, say, every reference to the Gorgons, and I find what the classical writers said about them and it's so much richer than you might get in an average Greek mythology text. I feel like an archaeologist - I'm dusting off these things that people have not seen for thousands of years and bringing them into the modern world.
If the parents are too busy to read, it's a safe bet the children will feel the same way. Set aside time for family reading each night. It doesn't matter so much what the kids read, as long as you provide them space for reading and a sense that it is a valuable part of your daily routine.
I sometimes look at my bookshelves today and wonder which volumes my sons will treasure in twenty or thirty years. Which should I be saving for them? Which will fade with time?
You know, how much order is good? And when does order become too restrictive? Is a little bit of chaos okay, or is chaos always an evil force? I mean, these are questions that any kid who's ever been in a school cafeteria can relate to.
Every child's taste is different. Don't worry if they're not reading 'War and Peace' at age 12. First, build a good foundation and a positive attitude about reading by letting them pick the stories they enjoy. Make friends with a bookseller or librarian. They are a wealth of information on finding books that kids enjoy.
For me, writing for kids is harder because they're a more discriminating audience. While adults might stay with you, if you lose your pacing or if you have pages of extraneous description, a kid's not going to do that. They will drop the book.
It's hard enough to be a middle-school kid, because you're dealing with so many facets of your identity - you're changing socially, you're changing physically, you're changing emotionally, everything is in flux, and to put race on top of that as well and have to figure out your racial identity is extremely hard.
The deeper I go into mythology, the more I find. I originally did five 'Percy Jackson' books. I thought that would cover Greek mythology and I couldn't have been more wrong. It's ever-expanding.
Even if these stories are 3,000 years old, there's still so much about the characters, about the dilemmas, about their understanding of the universe that still resonates. The whole idea of order and chaos, which is really central to the ancient Egyptian understanding of the world, is still very much with us.
You have to work hard to get to the top of your game. I think every writer has doubts! I still do all the time.
There are so many fantastic stories and I want to bring Thor and Odin and the other gods into the modern world, just like I did with the Greeks and 'Percy Jackson.' I'll give the books an urban setting and have young people interacting with the Norse gods.
There are days when I'll write for 15 minutes and have to give up and move around, and I'll write another paragraph and give up again. On other days I get intensely - focused on the process, sit down at 8 A.M. and won't get up until 8 P.M.
As a teacher, I've never seen anything like 'Harry Potter.' That's why I smart when people talk about the 'next' 'Harry Potter.' There is no 'next' 'Harry Potter.'
The older I get, the less I obsess about material stuff. In fact, stuff has become the enemy. There always seems to be more of it than I have storage in my house!
I loved the idea of making history interesting for kids! When Scholastic approached me about 'The 39 Clues', I immediately started going through the 'greatest hits' from my years as a social studies teacher, and picked the historical characters and eras that most appealed to my students.
No one spoke in terms of children's literature, as opposed to adult literature, until around the 1940s. It wasn't categorised much before then. Even Grimm's tales were written for adults. But it is true that ever since 'Harry Potter' there has been a renaissance in fantasy literature. J. K. Rowling opened the door again.
I tend to think of a myth and then explore how it would play out if it were happening in the modern-day world. I modify all the myths I use, but I stick very closely to their structure - it is the hidden teacher in me.
I think children love reading, and they will make time for it if we put the right books into their hands. And I hope I get the chance to keep being one of the people that writes them.
My problem is never ideas. I've got more than I'll ever have time to write. It's all about how many I can get to, and which ones readers want to see the most.
Because I am kind of distracted, I don't tend to sit at my desk 9 to 5. It can be two hours a day, or, when I'm in the final editing stages, it can be 14 hours a day.
When I was in college, my parents' house burned down, and took a lot of the possessions I'd grown up with. That's probably one thing that made me realize material stuff is not really that important.
I don't think I would ever inch my way up to Y.A. That audience is very well served. There are a lot of wonderful writers writing for Y.A. I feel like I'm in the right place.
The Web or card experience is not at all going to replicate the book experience, nor is the book experience going to replicate the Web.
I can't actually wrap my mind around it easily - I can't really visualize what 2 million books looks like... So I try to keep it real for myself by focusing on individual anecdotes of how my books have helped kids learn to love reading.
I don't teach anymore, but I can still clearly see fifth period after lunch - that's a real tough time to teach. And I tried to imagine writing a story that would appeal to those kids - even when they're tired, even when they're bouncing off the walls.
Every child is different. I think it's important that we don't have maybe just one or two books that we're recommending to all children - but rather we cater the books to fit each individual child.
It seems like just yesterday my son was hiding under the table to avoid reading. Now, he's writing books longer than mine!
The Met is such a powerful place for me because it's a natural connection between the ancient world and the modern world. And when you're dealing with ancient mythology, trying to put a modern spin on it, you really can't do much better than to call on the Met.
Kids ask me questions. You'd think after doing this for four years, I would have heard every single question anyone could think of to ask, but no, every time, they surprise me, they ask me something I never thought of before.
It's wonderful being an author and having so many kids enjoying my books. That's always been my dream job, and I feel very lucky to be able to do it.
Kids are the audience I know best.
What about a compromise? I'll kill them first, and if it turns out they were friendly, I'll apologize.
I tell aspiring writers that you have to find what you MUST write. When you find it, you will know, because the subject matter won't let you go. It's not enough to write simply because you think it would be neat to be published. You have to be compelled to write. If you're not, nothing else that you do matters.
Great victory requires great risk. -Hera
Jason scratched his head. "You named him Festus? You know that in Latin, "festus' means "happy'? You want us to ride off to save the world on Happy the Dragon?
Even strength must bow to wisdom sometimes.
Can we just call them storm spirits?" Leo asked. "Venti makes them sound like evil espresso drinks.
I think I write for reluctant readers. Of course I want everyone to enjoy my books, but if the kids in the back row who normally don't pick up a book are engaged with what I'm writing, along with the kids who are big readers anyway, then I really feel like I've done my job.
Knowledge of any value can't be given. It must be sought and earned
The real world is where the monsters are.