Two nights ago I finished Kwame Mbalia’s “Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky” (look for my review next week) and it had me thinking about the Rick Riordan Presents line and how in a just a few short years, they’ve published a number of quality books, all by authors of color. By working with Disney and creating his own publishing imprint, Rick Riordan is showing what it means to be an ally, to actually put actions behind one’s words.
I remember that Riordan saying that part of his inspiration for writing Percy Jackson was he wanted his son, who had Dyslexia, to be able to see himself in literature so using Greek mythology he created the series to be a unique spin on children having a learning disability. It obviously worked as the series became a best seller and Riordan followed up the series with the Kane Chronicles, then the Heroes of Olympus, the Apollo series, and his new series incorporating Norse mythology. With the Heroes of Olympus series, based on Roman mythology, Riordan had a number of diverse characters and I’ll never forget the day my students learned that a main character was gay. They all came running to my room to tell me because they were that excited to see a gay character represented in literature made for them. Riordan has continue for inclusivity in his books, which is what led to the creation of Rick Riordan Presents.
The imprint has published 7 books in less than 2 years with 4 more coming in 2020. According to his website Riordan states that his reasoning for creating the imprint was that he was often asked if he would write stories from other cultures, and he realized that the authors best suited for writing those stories would be writers from those cultures. He states, “Much better, I thought, to use my experience and my platform at Disney to put the spotlight on other great writers who are actually from those cultures and know the mythologies* better than I do.” Now that is an ally. Someone who recognizes that sometimes #ownvoices is better for writing a story than a White author attempting to write a character of color. Riordan is a best selling author who used his influence to help bring about change, to equalize the publishing field in his own way. I appreciate the work Riordan’s imprint is doing and their devotion to publishing #ownvoices novels for all.
Mbalia’s novel is the first I’ve read from Rick Riordan Presents and I enjoyed it. Clearly, I have some make up reading to do, but I’m also truly looking forward to what’s to come.