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Tom Vaughan

Author of the funny mythological 'Hercules: A (Sort Of) Hero' in a Q&A! My review of  the book is here.

1) I shared 'Hercules: The Diary of a (Sort Of) Hero' with my Year 4 class. One girl asked me: 'What's it about?' How would you answer this?

In a nutshell, it’s about a very over-confident 11-year-old boy called Hercules Braver who starts secondary school determined to live up to his impressive name and become uber popular… but instead ends up saddled with a set of impossible tasks in order to save his plummeting reputation.

It’s also about father figures and blended families and the importance of being yourself… plus, it’s got tonnes of Greek mythology running through it and a father figure who may or may not Zeus himself. As well as loads of hilarious illustrations by David O’Connell, all in an easily digestible diary format.

2) Children love Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Loki and Barry Loser. In your opinion, what makes Hercules Braver stand out, and who would he beat in a popularity contest?

He would beat them all, of course! At least, that’s would Hercules would say. In reality, he’d be sipping a Fronkle with Barry and Greg somewhere near the bottom of the food chain. Loki would have a steal on them as he’d definitely be a bigger hit with the naughty kids.

Personality wise, Hercules definitely has a lot in common with all three (plus another of my favourites, Timmy Failure) in the sense that he has a massive blind spot around his own faults and failings, which is what constantly gets him in trouble. But I’d hope that Hercules’ ability to learn, alongside the emotional themes of the book, gives it a unique personality.

3) What do you hope boys, in particular, will learn about masculinity from Hercules and his rather toxic birth father?

I hope they’ll learn that it’s how we treat others, not strength or charm or good looks, that is the ultimate mark of manliness. Niceness is a superpower.

4) What changed the most from your first drafts to the final published book?

Balancing Hercules’ over-confident, borderline delusional voice was definitely the hardest element. Making him relatable and sympathetic to readers while still holding utterly outlandish opinions of his own greatness took multiple drafts as well as the masterful guidance of my editor, Julia.

5) If you could become a Greek God or Goddess, who would you be and why?

Hestia when I’m at feeling introverted – cooking and stoking the hearth at home.

Hermes when I’m feeling extroverted – blabber-mouthed prankster.

6) Can we expect to read more about Hercules Braver in the future? (Please say yes)

Yes! Book 2 is coming out in September! It’s called Hercules: A Hero’s Journey (On A School Trip) and it sees Hercules and friends go on an epic and disaster-filled trip to Greece. It’s a chance to tick off the next three of Hercules’s Labours (or versions thereof) as well as throw an absolute chariot-load of Greek myth at the story. Kalamata!

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