Next week marks the on-sale date for the latest from Rick Riordan Presents, The Cursed Carnival and Other Calamities, featuring nine RRP writers and Rick himself!
We reached out to RRP’s deep bench of talent with some questions about The Cursed Carnival.
The anthology did not come out the way I hoped. It came out much, much better.—Rick Riordan
RR.COM: Besides your own, which was your favorite story in the collection and why?
KWAME MBALIA: Probably Sarwat Chadda’s The Loneliest Demon. It’s always “What did the demon do?” and never “How is the demon doing?”
ROSHANI CHOKSHI: I especially laughed (and by that I mean, spat out my coffee) when reading about Gum Baby’s adventures.
GRACI KIM: My favorite was Tehlor Kay Mejia’s “Bruto and the Freaky Flower” because who doesn’t dream of adopting their very own Chupacabra puppy?!
REBECCA ROANHORSE: J. C. Cervantes’ “The Cave of Doom” was probably my fave. I love a story whose inciting incident is a bad review!
TEHLOR KAY MEJIA: I loved all the stories so much, but my favorite was Graci Kim’s “My Night at the Gifted Carnival”! Graci is just so naturally hilarious, and a rogue unicorn on the first page? I was sold immediately.
RR.COM: Which character(s) would your protagonist want to go on a quest with?
I hope readers will be reunited with old friends and make some new ones!
RICK RIORDAN: I would love to see what mischief Finn and Gum Baby would get up to. I like to think they would be friends, because if they ended up fighting, I shudder to think what would happen. Finn McCumhail might finally meet his match!
ROSHANI CHOKSHI: Aru would love to run around with Sal & Gabi in an attempt to recreate Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse but everything would go very wrong and inevitably giant arachnids would invade Atlanta.
YOON HA LEE: Min would want to go on a quest with Sal for his multiverse-traveling abilities. She’d love the chance to cause trouble in a whole new universe!
CARLOS HERNANDEZ: Easy: the many-named and no-name protag of Rick’s “My Life as a Child Outlaw.” That kid stunned a duck one time when he was eight!
J. C. CERVANTES: Zane would likely be too exhausted for another quest but if push came to shove he would definitely want to hang with Aru or Nizhoni—magic toys, power, loyalty, imagination!
RR.COM: Why did you decide to say yes when Rick invited you to contribute to the collection?
the anthology offers you a “bite-sized” sampling of our great authors’ works. Try all the flavors!
KWAME MBALIA: For far too long, Gum Baby’s story has languished in the shadow of Tristan. It was time for her to speak out.
ROSHANI CHOKSHI: Not to be corny, but the RRP imprint feels like family at this point (imagine this in my Vin Diesel voice). And no one wants to be left out of a family reunion. That’s just sad. YOU WOULD MISS ALL THE FOOD.
GRACI KIM: Because who doesn’t want to be an Avenger? And let’s be honest, unicorning it at the multiverse mansion where trench coats are the height of fashion is as Avengery as you can get! Am I glad? Do cheollimas fly?!
RR.COM: What do you hope readers will gain from reading your story and/or this anthology?
RICK RIORDAN: I hope readers will be reunited with old friends and make some new ones! I understand that sometimes it’s hard to keep track of so many wonderful new books from RRP, but the anthology offers you a “bite-sized” sampling of our great authors’ works. Try all the flavors! You might find some new favorites!
CARLOS HERNANDEZ: I hope it gets readers thinking about how we can make up for our mistakes and do the right thing the second time around if we miss our chance the first time. I also hope—and this is the most important lesson of all—they will know better than to insult a unicorn. Oh, and if something looks like a rainbow but smells like vomit, trust your nose.
SARWAT CHADDA: I’m reminded about the universal attributes of heroes. No matter how dark and despairing things may seem, we have the capacity to rise above our circumstances and what’s more, lift others alongside us. That’s what heroes do.
REBECCA ROANHORSE: I want readers to have fun with this story, and maybe get interested in going to a powwow themselves. At the very least, they can make some frybread.
RR.COM: Do you have any advice for fledgling short story writers out there?
Short stories are a perfect way to practice your craft, just because they are, well, short.
J. C. CERVANTES: Ignore the naysayers. Write through the doubt. Read. And keep chocolate nearby.
KWAME MBALIA: Find your writing crew. They’ll hype you up when you need it most.
YOON HA LEE: Never give up! I started writing when I was eight years old and it took me until my freshman year of college to get published, but the journey was worth it. Writing is a trade made up of skills that can be learned. Everything else is just stubbornness.
TEHLOR KAY MEJIA: Become an observer of your world! Start thinking about your own unique perspective and how it affects what you see and how you see it.
SARWAT CHADDA: Write what matters most to you. Look at it from odd angles, find a fresh perspective that’ll surprise you. It may seem insignificant, or dull, but I promise you it’s not. Don’t write what you know, write what you FEEL.
RICK RIORDAN: Short stories are a perfect way to practice your craft, just because they are, well, short. I started writing short stories long before I ever got up the courage to write a whole novel. Read short stories by your favorite authors — that’s the best way to see what a good short story should look like. Then choose a hero of your own and dive in! The only way to learn writing, in my opinion, is to write a lot!
BONUS: Two Questions Just for Rick
RR.COM: What made you decide to write about Irish mythology?
RICK RIORDAN: I have been hoping to write about Celtic myths forever, but I had a lot to learn before I felt ready. After finishing my master’s degree in Gaelic lit, I finally felt prepared! The Irish stories are so wonderful and wild, but not many people know about them. I hope I can change that a bit with Finn MacCumhail.
RR.COM: Why did you want to compile this anthology? Did it come out as you had hoped?
RICK RIORDAN: Honestly, I missed the worlds the RRP authors had created! I wanted more, and these stories offer me a wonderful kind of family reunion. The anthology did not come out the way I hoped. It came out much, much better.
The Cursed Carnival and Other Calamities goes on sale 9/28. Pre-order your copy now!