Whenever Hercules and his family had to self-isolate – for instance due to a bad outbreak of Stymphalian bird flu – they would happily pass the time baking honey cakes. These dense, moist, syrupy cakes are perfect for keeping the lockdown blues away!

You probably already have most of the ingredients in your pantry, saving you from yet another treacherous journey to the supermarket. These days, that can feel as daunting as making your way through the Gorgon’s garden, without so much as a face mask to protect yourself from her stony glare.

I hope you have fun making Hercules’ favourite snack, the perfect thing to much on while sitting at home with a good book (or ten)!




250 g butter, softened

1 cup sugar

4 eggs

1 cup semolina

1 cup self-raising flour

1 cup desiccated coconut

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


2 ½ cups sugar

3 cups water

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons honey


  1. Place syrup ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to the boil.
  2. Boil over medium heat for 20 minutes, then take the syrup off the stove and allow it to cool.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until soft and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating in well.
  4. Stir in the vanilla essence.
  5. Add the semolina, self-raising flour and coconut, and fold in along with the milk.
  6. Spread the thick batter into a medium-sized buttered slab cake tin.
  7. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 45-50 minutes, until the cake is golden brown.
  8. Take the cake out of the oven and immediately poor the cooled syrup over the hot cake. Allow the syrup to soak in.
  9. When the cake has cooled, cut it into squares or diamond shapes for serving.
  10. Keep out of reach of Greek heroes, big and small, or you won’t have any left for yourself!

I’m delighted to be involved with Dare to Write?an online platform for writers. It was created by a professor at Bath Spa University in collaboration with Paper Nations UK, and is supported by the Arts Council of England.

Developed with the the help of hundreds of authors, it invites young people to begin a journey of writing. The programme revolves around a series of eight prompts – and you can explore them all here.

A few authors have written responses to these prompts, and they’re stored on the Dare to Write library. Here’s my response to the challenge Just Write!

In my response, I encourage young people to just write, without worrying about what others will think of their story. In other words, expect the first draft to be ordinary. Writing is meant to be fun, and aiming for perfection right from the start is what causes most aspiring writers to stall, backtrack, and eventually give up. Let the words flow without fear – and then go back and improve it later, once you’ve actually got something that you can work with.

This is something that even professional authors sometimes need to be reminded of – including myself! Writing can be daunting, but focusing on enjoyment rather than worrying about people’s reactions can be all it takes to make those words start to flow.



I’ve never been to Portugal or Taiwan – but in a weird kind of way, part of me is there now. I was delighted to learn that my Hopeless Heroes books have been published in other languages! My time travelling main character, Tim Baker, is now being read in more countries around the world. My wonderful publishers, Sweet Cherry Publishing, have told me it’ll be out in Romanian soon. I’ve got my fingers crossed that a Greek publisher will take them up one day. It’d be so cool if the stories that originated in Greece end up back there, via the UK and Australia!


The Taiwanese version is being serialised in a bilingual magazine, with all new illustrations. As much as I love Nick Roberts’ gorgeous drawings, it’s fun seeing another artist’s take on Tim and his adventures.

The Portuguese version looks identical to the English version, except for the language of course. Ola!












If only I could grab onto Tim’s magical vase and travel through time and space. I know where I’d like to go! If you could go anywhere, anywhen – where would you go?



I’m honoured to have my Hopeless Heroes series included in the ‘Our Mythical Childhood’ project, created by an international team of scholars who examine the reception of Classical Antiquity in children’s literature. It was wonderful to meet Liz Hale in person and learn more about their work, and I’m very excited to be a part of it!

Antipodean Odyssey

Last week I had the pleasure to meet Stella Tarakson, the author of the delightful Hopeless Heroes series.  They’re chapter books for primary school kids, and feature the adventures of a boy called Tim, who accidentally invokes the hero Heracles, when he breaks his mother’s favourite vase.  Mayhem and mischief ensue–Heracles is strong but needs direction, and Hera and Hermes are continually meddling.  (The first few books are written up in the Our Mythical Childhood survey …) 

Tarakson is from Sydney, Australia.  Her parents emigrated from Greece, and she talked with me about how the Greek myths resonated for her as a child, and now as a storyteller.  It was fascinating to hear her thoughts, and to think about the different ways that Greek myth travels around the world–to the Southern Hemisphere and back again.  Tarakson’s books are published by a British publisher, though I like to think a…

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Woo hoo! I received the most exciting email from my publisher, Sweet Cherry Publishing.

Book 1 of Hopeless Heroes (Here Comes Hercules) has been nominated for the Fantastic Book Awards! It’s  wonderful to know that children are enjoying my quirky, time-travelling twist on Greek mythology.

The Fantastic Book Awards is an annual book event organised by the Lancashire School Library Service. Developed in partnership with schools, it’s designed to encourage kids to read for fun. Children aged 9-11 (years 5-6) are challenged throughout the year to select the story books they like the best.

It’s a great way for kids to meet, discuss and share their bookish views in a relaxed way. Activities can be run as a book club or for a whole class, and can inspire both able and reluctant readers.

This year’s nomination list is pretty amazing – I’ve got my reading plan all sorted!

Good luck to all the nominees – including me 🙂


Some exciting news – the Sutherland Shire Writers’ Festival is on again, and I’m lucky enough to be one of the presenters. Called Writers Unleashed, it contains workshops, author talks, book signings and publishing consultations. It’s on at Gymea Tradies on 18 August – so there’s still time to buy a ticket!

My talk is on dealing with publishers, both here in Australia and overseas. I’ll look at how to approach publishers without an agent, and what to do when you’re offered a contract (apart from drink champagne, which goes without saying). What do all those clauses mean? Do you understand what you’re actually agreeing to? My legal background and my years of experience have allowed me to pick up a few tips, which I’m more than happy to share. Hope you can make it!

I can’t believe it’s over already. The Hong Kong Book Fair 2018 was a whirlwind of activity. It’s the world’s largest gathering of book lovers, now into it’s 29th year. This was the first time I’d attended, and it took my breath away!

The crowds were HUGE! Hundreds and thousands of people all united by their common love of literature and learning. Seven days, twelve hours a day, and the numbers barely abated. Last year the total number to pass through the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre topped 1 million, and I won’t be surprised if that’s happened again!

I was there thanks to my brilliant publisher Sweet Cherry Publishing. It was the first time I’d met the team, as they’re based in the UK and I’m in Australia. How wonderful to finally put faces to some of the names. They made me feel welcome and looked after me very well. No author could ask for more 🙂


I lost track of how many copies of Hopeless Heroes I signed (suffice it to say my hand is still recovering).

I loved meeting kids who literally leapt with joy at the prospect of buying a new book. I was amazed that so many children already knew a great deal about Greek mythology. It made me quite emotional, really!

I wanted to write these books so that I could share the stories my parents had introduced me to when I was little. It was their way of keeping their culture alive on the other side of the world, far away from the home they might have never seen again. The myth-inspired books are my way of honouring their memory. To see Hopeless Heroes in so many eager hands was an experience I will never forget.


I’m so excited to be going to the Hong Kong Book Fair next week. Come and see us at the Sweet Cherry Publishing stand at 3B-D16, and enjoy a taste of Ancient Greece in South East Asia! I’m looking forward to meeting Greek mythology fans, both big and small, and seeing some gorgeous children dress up as Greek heroes. Be sure to come along to my talk on being a reading hero. I’ll be discussing my inspiration for Hopeless Heroes as well as passing on some tips to help you become the reading hero of your own family!

I’ve been into Greek mythology for as long as I can remember. Everything is just so amazingly bizarre. Where else would you read about a bloke who has a headache, asks to have his skull split open with an axe, and a fully dressed woman pops out? Or a guy who swallows each of his new-born kids whole, until his angry wife gives him a boulder to swallow instead? The surviving baby grows up in secret, before coming back to make his dad vomit up his now adult brothers and sisters. Sweet!

My parents got me into Greek mythology from a very young age.  Greek immigrants, they were keen for their language and culture to carry on in their new home. I’m so glad. My language skills aren’t as good as they should be, but I’ve been able to pass on my love of mythology to my own children. And now – thanks to my wonderful publisher Sweet Cherry – I can spread the love to a wider audience. With my own humorous twists, that is!

Because I’ve always been a book fanatic, I’ve kept several of my childhood mythology books. Some, sadly, were read so often that they didn’t make it. I’m always on the lookout for new old copies, so to speak. Here are some of the ones that managed to survive the ravages of the ages …

The Legend of Ulysses is a retelling of The Odyssey for kids. Reading it now, as an adult, I’m impressed by how skilfully the author handled it. A lot of the original material is totally Adults Only. I wouldn’t mind having a go at something like this myself.








The Hand of Apollo is for slightly older kids. It’s set in modern-day Turkey. It’s about a boy who discovers an interest for archaeology, and learns about the tensions between investigating the past and protecting the present.







This is the cover of one of my old Greek school books. Translated, the title reads History: Mythical Years. It’s kind of cool to read about Greek mythology in Greek, with the help of a dictionary, that is. I don’t know who scratched doodles onto the plastic cover. It couldn’t have been me, surely …








I love the style of the internal illustrations.  These are six of the twelve Olympians. The pictures look like the old vase drawings. Nick Roberts, my illustrator, had a similar idea. All the characters in the books drawn from mythology are depicted in this way, except they’re funny – very clever!






It thrills me to think that my Hopeless Heroes series will help get a new generation of kids into Greek mythology. Who knows? Maybe one far off day, an author will put up an old picture of Here Comes Hercules and say it inspired them to start writing 😊

Do you have any old Greek mythology books that got you hooked? Let me know in the comments!

It’s always wonderful to hear children’s views on books. It’s not always what you’d expect! I was thrilled to read this mother-and-son review and I love how it’s split between the adult and child perspectives 🙂

Charlotte, Somewhere


Today I have an exciting blog tour post with TWO books from the fabulous Sweet Cherry publishers. S and I really enjoyed these.

Here Comes Hercules by Stella Tarkson, illustrated by Nick Roberts

His Thoughts:

I liked the way that Tim broke the vase because it wasn’t a very pretty vase. Tim had a great adventure because he broke it. I liked the adventure. And I liked the way that Hera tried to steal the vase back at the end of the book. My favourite thing Hercules did was flipping Leo across the tree because he is an absolute bully to Tim and it is not nice to be a bully so he deserved it. I liked this book and enjoyed it. It was funny. It made me laugh. If I had to give it some stars out of five I would definitely give it one hundred stars.

My Thoughts:

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