Bryony Pearce on Hannah Messenger and the Gods of Hockwold and funny books for kids

Hannah Messenger and the Gods of Hockwold by Bryony Pearce. Book cover and author photo.
The Gods of Olympus are alive and well in the present day and their descendants are on an epic, fast-paced adventure in the book we sent our Cockatoo subscribers this month, Hannah Messenger and the Gods of Hockwold. We love every one of the hilarious cast of characters in this quirky, inspiring story, perfect for fans of Maz Evans and Louie Stowell. Here author Bryony Pearce tells us about being inspired by the Greek gods and which funny books for kids she recommends for inspiring reluctant readers.

What inspired you to writeHannah Messenger and the Gods of Hockwold?

Hannah herself did. She came to me at the end of lockdown, when I needed some cheering up, and suggested that I write her story. She told me she had powers and was descended from the Greek gods and that someone was stealing from them. The rest I had to work out for myself!

I’ve always loved Greek Gods (myths were an obsession of mine as a teenager) so really this was a story I’ve been wanting to write for a long time.

Which character was the most fun to write and why?

There are so many fun characters in Hannah Messenger, from Hannah, who is trying (unsuccessfully) to get a handle on her power of flight while navigating friendships and family, to her dad, who thinks making a bowl of Coco Pops is gourmet cooking.

There is also Hannah’s friend Dylan who makes strawberry laces from thin air and talks to the dead (they’re boring).

Dolio the tortoise is surprisingly speedy, Elsie the two-headed dog has a split personality and Myrtle the dove is homicidal.

Hermes however, has the most potential for fun. He is the trickster god and he went to prison for stealing Hera’s knickers and putting them on a polar bear.

I honestly couldn’t pick just one fun character, and I’m really looking forward to you meeting them all!

Which of the powers in the book would you most like to have and why?

As the adventure progresses the children find out that there is more to their powers than they realised. Hannah in particular finds out that as the granddaughter of a trickster god, she has the power to go unnoticed (or invisible) which proves very useful.

You know those moments when you want the ground to swallow you up? We’ve all had them. I’ve had a few myself, so I’d like Hannah’s power to sneak off unnoticed when things aren’t going to plan.

Would you like to be immortal? Why or why not?

I’d like to be immortal as long as all my family and friends could be as well. I think it would be very lonely otherwise. Assuming I get to spend thousands of years with the people I love, I think it could be fun. Mainly though, I’d like it because I like to know how things turn out, history is the biggest story there is and I want to know the ending!

Can you tell us anything about what the future holds for Hannah and her friends?

I do have another book planned (all being well, I’d like to write a whole series). But at the moment, we are all waiting to see if you like Hannah, before committing to more of her story.

What I know for sure is if I get to keep writing Hannah Messenger, there will be more friendship, some new characters (like Medusa and Dylan’s older brother, Dave), more action and many more laughs.

Do you have a favourite place to write?

In my study, looking out over the forest (I live in the Forest of Dean).

Why did you choose to write books for this age group?

My books for older age groups tend to be dark and scary. It can get a bit bleak, writing dark and scary all the time, so I wanted to write for younger readers, and I wanted to write funny.

I think comedy is super important in terms of making stories and messages memorable for this age, but it’s taken me a long time to trust that I can write funny. Funny is very difficult to get right.

My son was Hannah’s age when I started writing Hannah Messenger, so for a lot of this book I had him in mind, and a lot of the humour is aimed at what he’d have liked.

It being me, there is danger and a mystery and twists in Hannah Messenger, but overall, I’d like to think Hannah is about friendship and fun and learning how important it is to really get to know people.

Which other funny books for kids would you recommend our subscribers read next?

John Robertson’s Little Town of Marrowville is brilliant and funny and a bit twisted, in a modern Roald Dahl kind of way. I also recommend Sam Copeland’s Charlie Changes into a Chicken series, and Terry Pratchett’s Wee Free Men because who doesn’t love tiny, drunk, homicidal, Scots,  who believe they’re already dead because the world is so brilliant?

I also recommend the books that got my reluctant reader back into reading: Asterix and Tom Gates and finally one of his favourite funny novels: Will Sutcliffe’s The Gifted, the Talented and Me.

I really hope you all enjoy Hannah Messenger and the Gods of Hockwold. If you want to tell me what you thought, please do send me a message. I’m on Instagram and X as Bryony Pearce, and there is an email address on my website:

I love to meet new friends.

Copies of our Hannah Messenger and the Gods of Hockwold pack, including a copy of the book and loads of fun activities to go with it, are now available for individual purchase. Grab a copy while stocks last!

This post includes affiliate links to our page, meaning we receive a small percentage of the sale should you purchase through them. Additionally, a percentage from all sales on the platform goes directly to local UK bookshops which is an initiative we're delighted to support!


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