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Square Ante's Inferno, Griselda Heppel


I grew up in Germany, the land of black forests, red and white

toadstools, gingerbread houses and lonely castles bristling with

turrets. With so much Grimms’ Fairy Tales atmosphere around, no

wonder that magic and stories became a firm part of my make-up.  


I studied English at Cambridge – more stories and much magic –

and it struck me that while many of the world’s great legends have

been adapted for children, some have been overlooked. The Iliad,

the Odyssey and other Greek legends, tales of King Arthur and of

Robin Hood have all inspired a huge number of children’s classics; but what about Dante’s Inferno?

The tale of Dante’s journey into the heart of Hell modelled on the ancient Underworld, in which he has

to cross rivers of fire and blood, grapple with Cerberus, centaurs, harpies, furies – why should children

miss out on that?  Then there’s the Faust legend, as in Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, in which an

ambitious man sells his soul to the devil in return for knowledge and power – another great

framework for an exciting, scary story.  


After graduating I worked in publishing, got married, had four children and was somewhat distracted for a few years. But in the back of my mind stories grew and in 2012 I brought out Ante’s Inferno, sending 12 year-old Ante (short for Antonia) into the heart of darkness accompanied by her worst enemy, Florence, and guided by a mysterious 13 year-old boy called Virgil. The book won the Children’s category of the People’s Book Prize 2012/13 and took a Silver Wishing Shelf Award 2013.


And now The Tragickall History of Henry Fowst (publication August 2015) tackles the Faust legend, interweaving Elizabethan magic, demons and historical mystery into the everyday life of 13 year-old Henry, who’ll do anything to overcome his problems, even follow some weird instructions in an old diary...

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