A Guide to the Rick Riordan Papers, 1997 – 2004
Author Rick Riordan was born in San Antonio, Texas, in 1964. He graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with degrees in English and History, and in 1988, he received his teaching certification from The University of Texas at San Antonio. He began graduate studies in English and Medieval Studies at San Francisco State University and then pursued a career in education in Oakland, California, where he taught middle and high schools. He continued teaching English for fifteen years in both the San Francisco Bay Area and Texas. Riordan has since retired from teaching to focus his energy on writing full-time.
Like many successful authors, before writing and publishing full-length novels Riordan honed his craft by writing short stories. “The Sheet Cave” and “Out on 1040” were featured in Cactus Alley in 1988. “A Small Silver Gun” was featured in Family Circle Mary Higgins Clark Mystery in the summer of 1998. His short stories have also appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine.
Riordan is perhaps best known for his popular series of mysteries books featuring Tres Navarre, a San Antonio private detective, martial arts master, and English Ph.D. in Medieval literature. In 1997, Big Red Tequila, the first in the Navarre mystery series was published. It won the Anthony Award for best original paperback and the Shamus award for the best, first private investigator novel. He followed this early success with the second in his series, The Widower’s Two- Step in 1998. This novel also won Anthony and Shamus awards, as well as the Edgar award for best original paperback. The Last King of Texas (2000) was a featured alternate for the Mystery Guild, and The Devil Went Down to Austin (2001) was also critically acclaimed. His newest mystery, and the fifth in the Tres Navarre series, is Southtown, which was published in 2004. Riordan also writes novels outside of the Tres Navarre series. Cold Creek was published in 2003 and placed on the American Library Association’s top-ten suspense novels list. In 2003, he was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters.
Riordan uses his native South and Central Texas as locations for many of his novel’s settings, and his admiration for this area is apparent. However, he had not always anticipated that he would write about the region. At The Scene of the Crime, a panel discussion held in the Southwestern Writers Collection in 2004, Riordan reflected that distancing himself from the area helped him to appreciate it: “I didn’t have any desire to write about San Antonio at all until I moved to California…I had to move away, and I had to appreciate what I knew before I wanted to write about it.”
Rick Riordan donated his collection to the Southwestern Writers Collection in February 2004.
Correspondence, research notes and interviews, plot maps, chapter synopses, character outlines, editor’s revision suggestions, and two magazines document the career of Texas writer Rick Riordan spanning the years of 1997-2004. The bulk of the collection consists of manuscript materials for five of his novels: Big Red Tequila, Widower’s Two-Step, “Gunman’s Cantina” (The Last King of Texas), The Devil went down to Austin, and Cold Springs. The collection is arranged chronologically into seven series based on dates of publication of each book, with the seventh series consisting of promotional materials. Because of this, the author’s method of constructing and writing a novel from first notes to manuscript is demonstrated.
The first series contains two magazines that featured Riordan’s short fiction, the first published in 1988 and a more recent piece published in 1998. The second through sixth series are dedicated to each of Riordan’s novels. Correspondence, research, and interviews particular to each novel are contained within that specific novel’s series. Most of the research notes and interview materials are for the Widower’s Two-Step, The Last King of Texas, and The Devil Went Down to Austin. The seventh series contains promotional materials for Riordan.
In addition to showcasing the people and cultures of Texas through his writings, another important aspect of the Riordan Papers housed in the Southwestern Writers Collection is that it shows the depth of research spent writing his novel as well as the processes of writing from start to finish.
Series I: Published Short Stories, 1988-1998 Box 1
A copy of Cactus Alley (1988) which contains the first two short stories Riordan published, “The Sheet Cave” and “Out on 1040.” A copy of Family Circle Mary Higgins Clark Mystery (Summer 1998) featuring Riordan’s short story “A Small Silver Gun.”
Series II: Big Red Tequila, 1997 (Tres Navarre Book #1) Boxes 1 and 2
Materials relating to Big Red Tequila Series are arranged according to the chronological writing process: correspondence, a research interview, author’s notes, an early draft, and an annotated manuscript with revisions. The correspondence is from Haynes and Boone, LLP and contains information on Texas contract law (July 19, 1996). A 1999 Fax from Mike Hames gives directions to Lackland AFB, TX, a map of the base and a list of questions for interview. The research interview conducted with Hames provides insight into explosive ordinance, amputee physical therapy, and how an amputee deals with day-to-day life. There are notes on the indigenous trees and shrubbery of Central Texas in particular. Several note sheets that list character’s names. The complete clean early typed draft of Big Red Tequila from 1994 contains quotes from songs by Texas songwriters in each chapter. These songs were not included in the published version of the book. One draft of the manuscript has been marked by Shelley Singer from the San Francisco Bay Area. Singer was his first line editor. There is also a complete, slightly annotated, typed manuscript of Big Red Tequila.
Series III: Widower’s Two-Step, 1998 (Tres Navarre Book #2) Boxes 2 and 3
In comparison to the other titles, the Widower’s Two-Step has less correspondence, interviews, and research, but does include author’s notes, a plot map flowchart, an early manuscript, and a spiral bound annotated draft with revision notes, labeled “2nd Draft.” There are no dates for any of the materials belonging in this series, however the contents are likely from 1998 and earlier.
Series IV: “Gunman’s Cantina,” Published as Last King of Texas, 2000; (Tres Navarre Book #3) Boxes 3 and 4
“Gunman’s Cantina” was an early working title for The Last King of Texas published in 2000. This series includes correspondence from 1998-2000, author’s notes, research emails, a plot map flowchart and chapter outlines. Correspondence includes a fax from Gina Maccoby with notes from editor of manuscript. Other correspondence are research interviews conducted via email: Russell Johnson explaining ballistics information and descriptions of guns; Eddie Klauer explaining Bexar County Jail operating guidelines, explosive ordinance and ballistics information, and general heroin use and drug operations; Jay Brandon with police department operational information, and Gloria Huntington on starting a “tech” business. There is also a complete, clean, typed manuscript of the Last King of Texas.
Series V: The Devil Went Down to Austin, 2001(Tres Navarre Book #4) Boxes 4 and 5
Materials documenting The Devil Went Down to Austin is arranged according to chronological writing process: correspondence, a research interview, author’s notes, an early draft, and an annotated manuscript with revisions The correspondence consists of various written communication to and from Kate Miciak, executive editor of Bantam Dell Publishing Group from 2000. These letters reference revisions and suggestions about book. Along with letter are the author’s revision notes in response to Miciak’s suggestions for the manuscript. There is also an email from Riordan to Gina Maccoby of the Literary Agency concerning a review of the draft. Notes are available concerning character descriptions and involvement in plot, character names sheet, notes on scenes and discoveries and a dated reference sheet of characters dated June 15, 2000. There are also three plot map flow charts, and chapter synopsis. In addition, there is complete clean-typed manuscript that is an early draft of The Devil Went Down To Austin, and a complete, slightly annotated typed manuscript of the same.
Series VI: Cold Springs, 2003 Box 5 and 6
Like the others titles, materials for this book are arranged according to the chronological writing process. There are also various undated notes and research materials. It contains an undated, clean-typed manuscript and a complete annotated typed manuscript dated 2003. There is a Riordan business card with his book titles on it and a business card from Kate Miciak, Bantam Books.
Series VII: Promotional Materials Box 6
Contains six copies of Rick Riordan’s publicity photos and a foam core placard with caption “Scene of the Crime” and Riordan’s autograph from the SWWC event of the same name. There is also a newspaper clipping from the San Antonio Express June 7, 2001 that is an advertisement for The Devil Went Down to Texas.
Open for research.
Rick Riordan Papers, Southwestern Writers Collection/Texas State University-San Marcos.
Donated by Rick Riordan, 2004. Contact the SWWC for information about additional materials from this writer that have not yet been fully processed.
Processed by Julie A Vasquez, 2005.
Detailed Description of the Collection