I knew him when …

I recently read Local author’s fantasy fiction has made him a best seller in the San Antonio Business Journal. The article is about Rick Riordan, award-winning author of adult mysteries and New York Times bestselling author of children’s fantasy.

When Rick finished his first children’s book, he already had won numerous awards and had successful sales of his adult mysteries. He submitted the children’s book to a literary agent specializing in children’s books rather than to the agent for his adult fiction. He also used a pseudonym because he wanted the book judged on its own merits without the agent’s opinion being colored by his reputation or her reactions to his adult mysteries. The agent took Rick on as a client as soon as she read the manuscript … and she berates herself for letting the manuscript sit unopened for six weeks before she read it. Read the Business Journal story to learn about the bidding war for the book, the movie rights, and the #1 New York Times bestseller status.

One reason I find this story so fascinating, of course, is that it demonstrates that great writing does get recognized and writers can succeed even in the competitive traditional publishing world.

The other reason I love this story is that I knew Rick long before either of us started writing. I used to own an interior landscape company, and Rick’s wife Becky worked for me for several years. She did a variety of jobs, from interior plant maintenance to sales to design (on the rare occasions we needed to submit a design for a project). She had a degree in fine arts and was working while Rick went to school (and played guitar in a band if I remember correctly). The company was small with a family atmosphere, and Rick came to our holiday parties and other family activities.

After they moved to California for Rick to attend graduate school, Becky kept in touch periodically with Christmas cards and a birth announcement for their first child. She never mentioned that Rick had started to write a novel about San Antonio because he was homesick for his home town. After a while, we lost touch with Becky, and the first I knew about Rick’s writing was when I heard about his first booksigning for his first book. Becky’s father is a doctor, and a writer I knew was one of his patients. She picked up a flyer about the signing at the doctor’s office and suggested local writers go out to support the “local” writer who lived in California. I attended that first signing and have since watched Rick go from success to success.

Rick and Becky moved back to San Antonio several years ago, and he taught middle school until he achieved enough success with his books to write full-time.

If you like mysteries or have children who would enjoy books that, according to Rick’s agent, have “done for Greek gods what Harry Potter did for wizards,” check out Rick Riordan.

And if you’re a writer, take heart in Rick’s success, which he attributes most of all to persistence.

[tags]Rick Riordan, bestseller, writing, success[/tags]

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