In this month's Inspirations, Tamsin Cooke tells Anita Loughrey how she is inspired by Rick Riordan.

Anyone who can come up with the following quote is going to be my hero!

With great power comes great need to take a nap. Wake me up later.
From The Last Olympian, Percy Jackson series

Rick Riordan is the author of the Percy Jackson series, which I absolutely adore. The books are fast-paced and stuffed with excitement, adventure, humour, and Greek mythology. If you have a reluctant reader, look no further. Because once they start reading these books, they can’t stop.

I first became aware of Rick Riordan on a visit to my local library. I wanted to find a new series to read to my 10-year-old son. The librarian recommended Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief. I read the blurb. It mentioned monsters, friends, and a ‘vapourised maths teacher'. It also had the tagline: ‘Half boy, half God and all hero’. So I thought, perfect! That afternoon, we sat in the conservatory, and I started reading. My 7-year-old daughter joined us, and by the end of possibly the third page, we were all hooked. I have such fond memories of that summer; all three of us reading the book by the firepit or snuggled on the sofa or in a bed.

Percy Jackson series - picture from

In all his books, Rick Riordan’s writing immediately draws you in. It’s incredibly informal and accessible. The characters’ voices jump off the page as if they’re talking to you. When I read The Lightning Thief for the first time, I thought "I want to write like that". I write in 1st person, and I wanted my protagonist’s voice to sing from the pages. Rick Riordan inspired me to aim to write dialogue that is natural and flows and that makes characters sound like real teenagers.

He seamlessly infuses Greek mythology into contemporary life – making it convincing and authentic. He has the god of war, Ares, as a biker and Hell located beneath Los Angeles, Medusa lives in a Garden Gnome Emporium where the stone sculptures are her victims. The whole series is well thought out and clever, and I’ve tried to ensure that the threads of fantasy that run through my books are just as believable and deeply woven.

Picture of Medusa scene from

I find it fascinating how Rick Riordan came up with the original idea for his series. He used to tell his son stories about the Greek gods and heroes, and as he was a middle school teacher, he knew his stuff. But when he ran out of tales, his son asked him to come up with some of his own. Rick Riordan recalled a challenge he used to set his students – they’d have to create a demigod and give them a Greek quest — so he decided to do the same. He created Percy Jackson, a half blood, and sent him on a Greek style journey in the modern-day US.

His son had been diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia and often felt like he didn’t fit in, so Rick Riordan gave his main character both these conditions. While these might be construed as stumbling blocks in school, in The Lightning Thief, they were a bonus. Dyslexia meant Percy found reading English tricky, but he could decode Greek words in seconds. And his ADHD helped him be on high alert for any monsters coming from hell. This was a wonderful way of weaving fantasy and real life together. But not only that, it made the books incredibly inclusive and must have given his son great solace.

Rick Riordan said in an interview on his website: 

Making Percy ADHD/dyslexic was my way of honoring the potential of all the kids I’ve known who have those conditions. It’s not a bad thing to be different. 

Rick Riordan has written many more series covering Roman, Egyptian, and Norse mythology. Some of his books have been made into films and a TV series is about to come out. If you’ve never read any of his books, I’d recommend starting with: Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. It really is a masterclass in storytelling.

Picture of Rick Riordan's books from

*Header image: from Rick Riordan website 


Tamsin Cooke is an award-winning children’s author. Her middle grade books, Cat Burglar, Mission Gone Wild, Stunt Double and Jungle Curse have been translated into many different languages. In addition to trade fiction, Tamsin writes for the educational publisher Fiction Express. She also works with the National Literacy Trust, carrying out author visits at football grounds as part of the Premier League Reading Stars programme. Tamsin’s website: Find her on Twitter.


Anita Loughrey writes educational fiction and non-fiction for primary schools. She has 100+ books published by a multitude of publishers both in the UK and internationally. In her spare time she is working on a fantasy adventure for middle-grade. She has two regular slots in the national writing magazine Writers’ Forum one on writing for children, the other on author’s research secrets. Find out more about Anita and her books on her website:

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