To Hell and back: Rick Riordan's 'House of Hades' out next week, promises to be 'very intense'
By Hillel Italie
NEW YORK (AP) — Rick Riordan spent the past few months in hell, and liked it.
The million-selling children's author promises a "fair amount of drama" in "The House of Hades," Book Four of his "Heroes of Olympus" series set for release next week. Disney Hyperion has announced a first printing of 2.5 million copies and the 600-page novel already is in the top 5 on Amazon.com.
Book Three of the "Heroes" series, "The Mark of Athena," ended with Percy and Annabeth plunging into the Underworld and the Romans set to attack Camp Half-Blood. Riordan promises the adventures down under in the new book will be "very intense," even for a storyteller unbounded by human possibility.
"Some conflicts from the previous book will be resolved," he said during a recent telephone interview. "But I don't think Percy and Annabeth have gone through anything as serious as what they're going to face now."
Some of his research was first-hand. A few years ago, he and his family cruised the Mediterranean as part of a Disney promotion for the end of his "Percy Jackson" series. Many of the tour destinations end up in "House of Hades" and the other Heroes books.
But other locations exist only in myth, like Tartarus, a pit of torment deep deep in the Underworld.
"There are conflicting images of Tartarus in literature," Riordan says. "So I had to draw on my own imagination and make the scenes there as difficult and challenging as I could."
He is among the most popular and busiest writers, best known for his Percy Jackson books, featuring a dyslexic 12-year-old not unlike Riordan himself at that age. He has also completed a trilogy based on Egyptian myths, "The Kane Chronicles," and has begun a series drawing upon Norse literature that will likely debut in 2015.
Riordan, 49, has been widely praised by parents and educators for getting kids interested in ancient mythology and he has a special project planned for next summer. A former middle school teacher, he has long been dissatisfied with the anthologies of Greek myths he saw in libraries and classrooms. So he decided to write one himself and let his most famous character do the talking.
"I could never find an anthology that worked for kids, so I went back to Ovid and Hesiod and Homer and cast all the stories from snarky Percy Jackson's point of view," says Riordan, whose tentative title for the book is "Percy Jackson's Greek Gods." Disney Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Publishing Worldwide, has scheduled the book for next August.
By SANDY COHEN
AP Entertainment Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) — With CIA analyst Jack Ryan, Tom Clancy created a character that spoke to audiences from both page and screen, representing the changing mood of a country facing growing geopolitical challenges.
"Thrillers, like all art, are always a reflection of the culture," said fellow author Brad Meltzer. "No one captured that Cold War fear — and that uniquely American perspective— like Clancy. Jack Ryan wasn't just a character. He was us. He was every American in those days when we were a push-of-the-button away from nuclear war."
Clancy brought such realism and attention to detail to his novels that in 1985, a year after the Cold War thriller "The Hunt for Red October" came out, a military official suspected the author of having access to classified material.
The best-selling novelist, who died Tuesday in Baltimore at 66, insisted then, and after, that his information was strictly unclassified: books, interviews and papers that were easily obtained. Also, two submarine officers reviewed the final manuscript.
Government officials may have worried how Clancy knew that a Russian submarine spent only about 15 percent of its time at sea or how many Seahawk missiles it carried. But his extreme attention to technical detail and accuracy earned him respect inside the intelligence community and beyond. It also helped make Clancy the most widely read and influential military novelist of his time, one who seemed to capture a shift in the country's mood away from the CIA misdeeds that were exposed in the 1970s to the heroic feats of Jack Ryan.
Military-thriller novelist was 66
According to The New York Times, Tom Clancy's publisher confirmed that author Tom Clancy died Tuesday.
In a career that spanned three decades, Clancy became one of the most successful figures in publishing. His name above a title was a calling card that conferred best-seller status on his espionage and military thrillers and inspired a dizzying array of tie-ins ranging from movies to video games. His books reveled in the technological details of spy-craft and weaponry, spending paragraphs recounting the various features of a nuclear submarine or a fighter plane, for instance.
Read the rest of TheWrap's story on and share your favorite Clancy novels on MSN Movies.
The 'Real Housewife' has a lot to stay about marriage and love
When we got our first look at "Real Housewife of New Jersey" Melissa Gorga's how-to book, "Love Italian Style: The Secrets of My Hot and Happy Marriage" back in March, we wondered if Gorga's advice on marriage would be controversial. While Gorta touted a philosophy of treating her hubby like a King, she also made mention of "the four tenets to a happy marriage...: respect, honesty, loyalty, and passion." That seemed promising! Right? Not so much.
Gorga's book is all about her marriage and love life with husband Joe Gorga, and it seems that the two have some, ahem, unique views on the way a "modern" (read: not very modern) coupling should work. The book has already drawn heat from a number of publications, and Jezebel has led the charge, thanks to a massive batch of excerpts they published yesterday that are, in the most gracious of terms possible, definitely controversial.
Give the Jezebel piece a read when you get a chance, but if you're in a pinch, here are the 13 tidbits from the book that had us going cross-eyed and yelling expletives in the safety of our own home. No, we're not fans of the Gorgas' brand of marriage - are you?
In other news, someone made a mistake and released the news early. Oops.
Among the 24 recipients of the 2013 MacArthur grants are two fiction writers, Donald Antrim, 55, the author of "The Verificationist," who is adored by the literati (translation: hard to read)* and Karen Russell, 32, the author of "Swamplandia" and the short story collection "Vampires in the Lemon Grove." Playwright Tarell McCraney, also 32, is a playwright with the Steppenwolf Theater Company and the author of the Brother/Sister Plays (here's a review). An academic, Robin Fleming, who is 57 and author of such books as "Britain After Rome, The Fall and Rise, 400-1070" and others too scholarly to be offered on Amazon, is also a recipient of the prize. I mean grant.
Bing: More on Donald Antrim
We're not supposed to call it a prize, although the MacArthur is a big fat kiss of a prize, a bolt from the sky known for relieving financial stress on everyone from choreographers to nuclear physicists. You can't apply for it; it just comes to you. Frequently described as "the genius grants" much to the annoyance of the people who actually give it, it's endowed by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The best part, besides all the admiration, is that it comes with $625,000 to be doled out over five years--with no strings attached. So you know, if Donald Antrim wants to use it to build himself a lap pool to think deep thoughts in, Donald Antrim is welcome to do just that.
Bing: More on Karen Russell
In which we review the scraps of "news" to be found in a new biography of the Duchess
But what does being an expert on Kate Middleton really mean? The young woman appears to be as freshly-scrubbed inside as she is out. Here are the 10 insights and lessons I learned about Kate that I didn't already know. You'll be astonished at the depth of reporting Nicholl has done.
1. As a toddler, Kate Middleton moved to Amman with her parents after her father was reassigned by British Airways to Jordan. There her breakfasts included "hummus, cheese and labneh, a condensed yogurt similar to spreadable cheese." She ate it off a fish-shaped plastic plate.
Lesson: Clearly, she is very open to new culinary experiences and does not disdain plastic as a vehicle for them.
2. When Kate was in middle school her favorite movie was "Cocktail," in which Tom Cruise made drinks.
Lesson: She is lucky to have not ended up Katie Holmes' shoes.
3. In middle school, she "was meticulous about everything, and her handwriting was beautiful."
Lesson: She was born to write thank you notes.
4. When her 13 year-old friends were playing spin-the-bottle, Kate stayed away. "Catherine was never a part of that. She was on the outskirts and much shier than the other girls."
Lesson: I'd say chastity is a virtue but maybe it is that braces and being tall for your age, as Kate was, is the best protection for your teenaged daughters.
Bing: More on Kate Middleton
5. She was bullied at Downe House, the school she attended at 13. Possibly as a result, or just because even future duchesses aren't perfect, she developed "mild eczema."
Lesson: Royalty, just like us.
6. While studying in Florence and according to sources, still a virgin, Kate's mother Carole and father Michael came to visit her. While they were out to dinner at one of "Florence's most fashionable restaurants," her mother "would exclaim to the waiters: 'Look at my English rose. Isn't she so beautiful? What do you think of the waiter, Catherine?'"
Lesson: At least at one point in her life, Kate contemplated ripping her mother's head off.
7. At St. Andrews, where Kate and William became friends, she was much appreciated by the other male students. Once, a first-year student named Sam Butcher who played rugby, sent Kate "a saucy text" asking her out. But she didn't reply.
Lesson: Save the saucy until later in your relationships. Also, pity Sam Butcher, wherever he is. He's got to make that story last at cocktail parties for the rest of his life.
8. William and Kate were forced to confirm their relationship to their friends during a game of "I've Never."
Lesson: But that's not nearly as bad as admitting you were playing "I Never" any time after 1995.
9. On vacation with William on the island of Mustique not long after they both graduated from St. Andrews, Kate "enjoyed a chilled pina colada." (page 142) "Kate let down her hair and ordered a round of pina coladas." (page 155)
Lesson: Kate may enjoy walks in the rain.
10. At a charity event Kate "was particularly pleased to be seated at the same table as British actor Colin Firth..."
Lesson: Well she's no dummy.
Bing: More on Katie Nicholl
Book is due next fall
Even though the infamous Grace Jones has long promised to never write a memoir (as Time notes, her song "Art Groupie" actually kicks off with the line “I’ll never write my memoirs"), it seems that the model/singer/actress/fashion legend has changed her tune - luckily for everyone with a persistent itch to hear decades-old gossip.
The magazine reports that Jones has inked a deal with Gallery Books to pen a memoir that will come out sometime next fall. Currently untitled, the book will surely come with all sorts of juicy and arty tidbits - hopefully with a bevy coming from Jones' days back at nightclub Studio 54 in its heyday.
Jones has already shared that some of her book fodder includes tales about "rooming with Jerry Hall and hanging out with Jessica Lange, collaborating with Andy Warhol, and acting with Arnold Schwarzenegger," which sounds like just about the most colorful life ever. The striking Jamaican beauty has long enthralled audiences with her unique look and unique sound - a book may seem a bit mainstream for her, but for a talent like Jones, nothing is too common.