Percy Jackson almost made me quit writing my first Young Adult novel. For about ten minutes. After a short cry. I had been dutifully working away at Rebels from Olympus for a good four years when Rick Riordan’s novel, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, was published in 2005. I read about it in the local paper, devastated that someone had beat me to it. I knew of no Young Adult novel that involved demigod children, one parent human and the other divine. Hercules and Achilles are well-known demigods. I had a good thing going. My problem. Time. I had very little time to write as much as I wanted, as much as I needed to publish the novel quickly. Someone else was going to eventually think the same thoughts.
The roles of wife, mother, daughter, employee and homemaker competed for my attention. All came before my novel in my list of priorities. Relationships are very important to me. Writing was my “thing” I did for myself in my “spare time”. I was away from the story for months sometimes. I always came back. So, someone else did come up with the demigod theme before I could finish and market my novel. You can’t patent story ideas.
I wasn’t surprised when I read about Percy Jackson. I knew that it would now be a Herculean effort to get a literary agent to consider Rebels from Olympus for publishing. I would be another copycat author. It happened when Harry Potter hit the ground running. Too many Harry Potter knock-offs flooded the market. Agents and publishers wouldn’t touch another novel about witches and wizards. Was I doomed? Should I stop writing this story that came to me in a dream back in 2000 and wouldn’t let me go? It had wiggled into my every day thoughts and made itself at home. Characters vied for my attention in unseemly moments, and I found myself taking plot notes for the novel. These characters, these people lived in my imagination and became very dear to me. I couldn’t abort them.
No. Negative thoughts were not going to bully me. I vowed not to read any of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson novels as they came fast and steady onto the publishing scene. I didn’t want to be influenced in any way. I pretended that Percy did not exist. It sounds mean. But I had to. Intuitively, I knew that my story was not similar to Percy Jackson in any way. Then, when I had finished my second draft of Rebels and felt I had a solid novel, I finally allowed myself to read one of Mr. Riordan’s novels. Relief. My novel is very different.
Try to tell that to the literary agents as you send out queries asking them to represent your novel to the publishing houses. Everyone is running scared in the publishing industry. Money is tight and a novel must be a sure investment. I did send out about ten query letters. Some agents turned my query down quickly. I knew why. They didn’t read any further once they saw the word – demigod.
I kept a cool head. I knew self-publishing was in my future. My book was going into print one way or another. From dream to published novel, it has been a fifteen-year journey. Writing this novel has been a salvation for me, carrying me over the rough waters of family illnesses, deaths, job losses and the wear and tear of daily life . . . and its joys. Now it’s my turn to carry my book out into the world. Rebels from Olympus is my offering of encouragement to today’s youth to be the best version of themselves.
Ever since three rebellious gods moved in next door, life has never been the same for Justus. His mom plays Twister with a goddess. The secret love of his life kisses him. His evil step-grandmother tries to kill him.