Greek gods and the golden touch!
8th Oct 19

Greek gods and the golden touch!

Look out for a flying horse, an Ancient Greek army (or two), a horse with a surprise and a king with the golden touch in these hilarious retellings of the Greek myths by PAMELA BUTCHART!

The Greek myths start to take a new life of their own when Izzy compares her friends to these ancient stories. These laugh-out-loud retellings of the ancient myths include the stories of Icarus, the boy who flew; Narcissus, who loved himself too much; Helen of Troy, who left her king for a new life; and King Midas, whose touch would turn anything to gold.

Here, PAMELA BUTCHART tells us what inspired her to write about the Greek myths and how she started to write for children:

Q: How did you start writing for children, and why do you write books that are funny?

A: My baby's daddy gave me a How to Write for Children book a few years ago for my birthday. I've always loved, read and collected children's books but never imagined I would be able to write my own! I started reading the book that night and then started writing the very next day. I never thought I could do it, but this self-help book gave me the confidence to try. And I haven't stopped writing or looked back since!

I write funny books because I LOVE funny books (as well as funny TV and film) and really enjoy writing humour. I'm a huge comedy fan and have been inspired by lots of funny women writers such as Louise Rennison, Sue Townsend, Sharon Horgan, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey and Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

Q: How do you fit in writing to your 'day job'?

A: I'm a full-time Mummy so it's a bit of a challenge! A lot of my writing gets done during my baby Albie's nap time. The last Izzy book (There's a Yeti in the Playground) was written entirely during Albie's sleeps. (I've also had to learn to write a lot quicker which has been a great skill to develop!).

Q: How did Izzy, your lead character in your Baby Aliens books and who talks us through the Ancient Greek myths in your new book, first develop?

A: I was marking philosophy dissertations (I'm a secondary school teacher) in the library one evening when all of a sudden Izzy's voice sort of popped into my head and wouldn't go away. I had to put my marking to one side and start writing about Izzy right there and then. And that became the first few pages of the first Izzy book Baby Aliens Got My Teacher.

Q: How did you get involved in re-writing the Greek myths, like Icarus, and why did you decide Izzy should do the retellings?

A: My publisher, Nosy Crow, knew how much I'd enjoyed retelling four Shakespeare's plays in the voice of Izzy in my book To Wee Or Not To Wee and asked me if I'd like to do the same for Greek Myths in conjunction with the British Museum (and I jumped at the chance of course!).

Q: Of course plenty of storytellers have rewritten the myths over the centuries, but what did you want from your retellings and how did you decide to go about bringing these myths up to date?

A: As was the case with To Wee Or Not To Wee I wanted to make the Greek Myths as accessible (and fun) as possible so that more children could experience and enjoy these rich (and dramatic) stories. It was loads of fun explaining the myths through the voice of an eight-year-old who thinks the adults are acting like big babies!

Q: Are you a Greek myths fan, and do you have a favourite myth?

A: I wasn't a huge Greek Myths fan before this project and sadly had never experienced them as a child. But I became a bit obsessed with them when I writing Icarus Was Ridiculous.

My favourite characters to write about were Icarus (who I reimagined as a stroppy teenager - so much fun!) and King Minos. Overall I enjoyed writing Narcissus the most. I had so much fun with the idea that Echo could only repeat what others said and the opportunity for hilarious confusion that would cause!

My favourite Greek Myth is probably the one about the Trojan Horse. I've always loved the idea that all the Greeks were hiding in that horse. I had a lot of fun writing (and adding to) that scene.

Q: If you found out your mum or dad was an Ancient Greek god - as some of these mythical characters do - which one would you want it to be?

A: I'd choose Nike. She's fierce, got wings and a very cool name.

Q: How did you choose which Greek myths to include in this book - and will there be more?

A: The British Museum suggested a few and I choose the ones that I felt spoke to Izzy and that I would enjoy retelling the most. It's really important to me to enjoy what I'm writing.

I'm not sure if there will be more but I'd certainly love to retell another Greek Myth or two!

Q: Why is the British Museum involved in this book and what did that mean to you, personally?

A: The British Museum and my publisher, Nosy Crow, have joined forces to produce quality non-fiction together. Icarus Was Ridiculous is actually their first fiction collaboration.

Working with the British Museum has been really exciting. We had a launch party for the book last week, after-hours in the Egyptian Sculpture gallery - it was awesome!

Q: Do you have a favourite moment in these stories, as told by Izzy?

A: I do love King Minos in the Icarus and Daedalus myth. Especially when he meets Icarus and his dad. I also love the confusion that occurs between Echo and Narcissus (and the ferret in a toga that I added).

Q: What else are you writing? Will Izzy be back with more adventures?

A: Oooooooh YES! I'll be starting the brand new Izzy book VERY soon! But my lips are sealed :)

Q: What has been your favourite moment as an author this year so far?

A: My favourite moment as an author so far this year was going on book tour in Dubai with my baby. It was his last big book tour with mummy (because he can walk now!). We made lots of wonderful memories together and got The Best selfies.

Q: Where is your favourite place to write, and what is your favourite escape from writing?

A: I used to write all my books in the library but now that I'm a mummy I have a writing shed in the garden which I love.

And when the writing isn't going well I quite like to dance or go bowling!

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