The best thing about writing for children is getting to see through their eyes again. Once you’re an adult, it’s all too easy to forget how astonishing the world used to be. We’ve seen so much that we tend to get jaded. But when you’re a kid, everything is fresh and sharp and startling. I feel so lucky to be able to write for an audience that’s brimming with enthusiasm. I’m particularly delighted that I can write about the things I love. Greek mythology has always been a big thing for me – thanks to my Greek immigrant parents – and now I can share the love with a whole new generation!
In my Hopeless Heroes series, I get to combine some quirky humour with tales that have stood the test of time. I have to twist them, of course, otherwise I’d be adding nothing new. For instance, we all know the traditional stories about Hercules, but how would he behave if he were here today? Would his super-strong (but not so super-smart) strategies work for tackling school bullies and housework? In book 1 Here Comes Hercules I got to play around with this idea and have a giggle at the same time.
The other question that interests me is: how would it be if we were to suddenly find ourselves in mythical times? In the later books, the setting switches between modern-day England and Ancient Greece. What would it feel like to meet Theseus, Jason and Odysseus? Could I do a deal with the giant spider Arachne, or outwit the three Grey Women who share a single eye?
While I’m writing, all the problems of the modern world fade away. Instead of watching the horror stories we call the news, I can cling onto an ancient vase and travel through time. I get to meet some famous heroes … who are maybe not quite so heroic after all. I encounter bizarre monsters, cross ancient landscapes, solve baffling puzzles, and defy the gods themselves. I only hope they don’t hold grudges …
Fortunately, I get to do it all through a 10-year-old boy called Tim Baker, who in a rather unsettling sort of way is me. At least, he would be me if I were 10, which I’m not. Or a boy, which I’m also not. Except for when I’m sitting at my writing desk – and then I can be anything I want to be!