October 15, 2008

A Visit From Cornelia Funke, Part 1

Posted by at 10:20 am in Authors | Permalink

Between an exclusive first look at the official movie poster and an interview with actor Brendan Fraser, lately Ink Splot 26 has been focused on the film version of Cornelia Funke‘s Inkheart, which comes out on January 23rd. But last week marked a major milestone for the trilogy, totally unrelated to the big screen: Inkdeath, the third and final installment of the series is now in stores in the US!

To celebrate, Scholastic invited employees, librarians, booksellers, and members of the press to attend a talk with Cornelia Funke in our auditorium, followed by a launch party in our cafeteria. Of course, I was all over that! Come on, a famous author whose books I love and free food? Duh.

Cornelia’s visit was the second in a new series of talks at Scholastic called “Author, Author.” They’re billed as “intimate dialogues with great children’s authors,” and so far, they definitely have not disappointed (the first guest, a few months ago, was Walter Dean Myers).

For Cornelia’s talk, the stage was set up to look like a comfy living room — well, if your living room had a giant projection on the wall:


To ask Cornelia the questions, Scholastic paired her with Barry Cunningham, who is not just Cornelia’s editor but also the guy who first brought Cornelia’s books to the United States and Britain. That’s actually how the talk started — with Barry explaining how he first came to meet Cornelia. And believe it or not, the story involves a young reader just like you!

Barry What happened was that Barry received a letter from a bilingual girl, telling him that Cornelia’s books (only published in German at that time) were even better than Harry Potter! The girl went on to describe how amazing The Thief Lord was, and after reading the letter, Barry decided that he just had to read the book for himself. Can you believe that? If it hadn’t been for that one girl, it’s possible that The Thief Lord never would have been translated into English and that we never would have gotten to read Cornelia’s other incredible books that followed! Just goes to show you that you should always speak up about what you believe in — you never know when you might change the course of history!

But anyway, back to the talk . . . After reading The Thief Lord, Barry knew he wanted to meet Cornelia and bring her book to English-speaking kids. As Barry put it, “With Cornelia, it’s easy to see that special magic, that bond between author and audience.”

So Barry went out to Germany to meet Cornelia at her house, and they got along right away. (The first thing Cornelia said to him when she opened the door was that he looked just like Bob Hoskins, an actor she really liked. What do you think? I don’t really see the resemblance, but maybe that’s just me . . .) After that initial meeting, it was only a matter of time before the two of them became close collaborators and good friends — Barry and Cornelia, that is, not Bob Hoskins.

After Barry’s introduction, Cornelia joined him on stage — to thunderous applause from the audience, of course.


But before starting on the Q&A, Barry presented this video of Cornelia, filmed at her current home in Los Angeles:

Then, it was finally time to hear from Cornelia herself!

Barry kicked off the conversation by asking Cornelia about her childhood. According to Cornelia, she grew up in a “very small and very ugly town. I thought it was always very boring.” For this reason, she spent most of her time as a kid just counting the days until she was old enough to get out of there — that and reading. As she phrased it, “The books kept me alive.”

It was during this time of voracious reading that Cornelia discovered a lot of the books that remain favorites of hers to this day. Wanna know what they are? Just open up your copy of Inkheart! Cornelia chose quotations from these beloved stories to use at the beginning of the chapters. In the interview with Brendan Fraser, he mentioned that he loved this aspect of the book because it introduced readers to lots of new books. I wonder what he would say if he had been at the Scholastic talk, because Cornelia revealed that as she wrote the other two books in the trilogy, it became more and more difficult to find the right quotes to use — not to mention, the growing challenge for Barry as he had to get permission to use all of them! “I had no idea what kind of curse I put on myself, to have those quotes,” Cornelia admitted. “It became a grueling task . . .  I won’t do it again!”

Cornelia also let the audience in on a couple other interesting tidbits about her childhood:

  1. Cornelia was the eldest child in her family, so Barry asked if she had been a bossy older sister. Cornelia’s reply? Guilty laughter, followed by this confession: “I fear I was, yes.”
  2. It wasn’t always Cornelia’s ambition to become an author. “When I was 11, I was very determined to be an astronaut,” Cornelia revealed, “because I was raised when they landed on the moon, so I wanted to do that!” Her training? Watching lots of Star Trek!

So how did Cornelia go from space travel to writing? Check tomorrow’s Ink Splot 26 for the answer, because in my next blog entry, I’ll divulge the rest of the secrets from the talk . . .

— Karen, STACKS Staffer

  1. lizzythelizzard561

    i love reading but im not so happy about it right now on thursday june 3 i graduated 5th grade and im ganna miss everybody from my school!

  2. mikej

    i heard Cornelia Funkeis was awesome i never read inkheart but i really want to read inkheart,inkspell,inkdeath
    i think it cool.

  3. Michelle

    Cornelia Funke is a genius!
    Her writing makes me feel every emotion there is, could be, and more so. At every suspenseful moment, I held my breath. At every terrible tragedy, I shed tears. And at every humorous scene, I laughed until the pain plauged my ribcage. Cornelia opens my mind to new possibilities, and old one that I have forgotten over the years. And for that I thank her. :D <3

  4. Dustfinger

    I LOVE Cornelia Funke, she’s like my favourite author!! I actually don’t know what I would do without her and her books. I’ve read by her: Inkheart, Inkspell, Inkdeath, The Thief Lord, Dragon Rider, and Igraine the Brave. CORNELIA FUNKE IS AWESOME!!!!!

  5. Jessica

    AAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! I love Cornelia Funke and Inkheart and Inkspell! I can’t wait for Inkdeath to be out in stores here, and for Inkheart the movie to come out!!!!!! AAARRRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!

  6. Ella

    I can’t believe I am waiting for another MONTH to read Inkdeath! How can I resist? She is such a fantastic author that is hard to keep out of. I hope my writing is as good her’s some day.

  7. BeccaMonkey

    Cornelia Funke is a great author!!! It’s so interesting to learn about her. Hopefully I finish Inkdeath soon! =)

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