If you read yesterday’s entry, then you know that last week Scholastic staffers and select librarians, booksellers, and members of the press were lucky enough to meet best-selling author Cornelia Funke in person — first through a talk with her editor, Barry Cunningham, and then at a party to celebrate the release of Inkdeath, the final book in the Ink-trilogy.
Well, the talk was so jam-packed with juicy info, I had to break up my report into two blog entries! So far, you’ve learned about Cornelia’s childhood in Germany. Now for the rest of her life:
When she was almost 18, Cornelia left her hometown (which she had described as “very small and very ugly”) and moved to Hamburg. There, she studied education and then became a social worker because she wanted to help children living in bad situations who weren’t able to stand up for themselves. Even when she eventually changed jobs to work as a book illustrator, she always knew that she wanted to go back to focusing on kids some day. As she explained, “I felt really like a traitor to the children, but then brought them back when I wrote The Thief Lord.”
And just how did Cornelia shift from illustrating books to writing them? Simple. She decided that the stories she was illustrating were boring and decided that she could do better! And that was how her
writing career was born!
But Cornelia does still do some illustration work: she did the artwork for the covers of the German editions of the Ink-trilogy books! Don’t speak German? That’s okay — Cornelia also did the inside illustrations for the US and UK editions of Inkheart, Inkspell, and Inkdeath! Still, Cornelia assured the audience that writing is her #1 priority. ”If I have to choose between writing for hours or illustrating for hours, I always choose the writing,” she said. Thank goodness for all of us fans!
Here are 10 other things that I learned about Cornelia during the talk:
1. Cornelia and her family lived in Italy for three months, and that’s what inspired the setting for Inkheart. The region they lived in is called Liguria, and that’s where the Inkheart movie was filmed too!
2. Cornelia is so beloved in her native Germany that there are three schools named after her and one bookstore named after Inkheart:
3. In 2005, TIME Magazine named Cornelia one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
4. Cornelia avoids reading any fiction while she’s writing because she doesn’t want it to influence her own voice. So while she’s working on a book, she sticks to reading nonfiction and poetry.
5. Even though she speaks fluent English, Cornelia always writes in German. “I tried to do English, but it didn’t work,” she said with a laugh.
6. Cornelia may not do her writing in English, but she does go through the English versions of her books line by line with the translator. Unfortunately, she can’t do the same thing with any other
languages: “Sometimes you get a book that’s suspiciously thin or suspiciously thick and you think, ‘I don’t know what’s in there!’”
7. Cornelia’s favorite thing about writing is that there are always surprises as you work through the story. For example, in the book that she’s writing now, there’s a scene where a character goes to a well and sees a creature that Cornelia totally didn’t expect! I can’t wait to see what it is!
8. After The Thief Lord, kids wrote to Cornelia asking her to write a book with a heroine as the main character. Enter Meggie Folchart!
9. Cornelia has two kids, Ben and Anna, who have both helped her with her work. Ben’s specialty is cutting out unnecessary parts of Cornelia’s books — and then telling journalists about the missing portions! Anna gets involved in the plots, and she’s the one who prompted Cornelia to explore Meggie and Farid’s relationship more in the later books. Again, thank goodness for us fans! (Or maybe just for us female fans? I’d love to hear from guy readers — leave a comment with your thoughts on the Meggie/Farid romance!)
10. Cornelia lives in Los Angeles now, and she absolutely loves it. As she put it, “I was born to be a Californian.” So will she ever write a book set in L.A.? Yes, eventually . . . “I’m going to write a love song to that city,” she promised the audience full of New Yorkers — who are known for being down on LA. But Cornelia thinks she can change that! “I hope to one day find the story that will make you all fall in love with L.A.,” she said. And then, with a raised eyebrow, she added, “I can do it!”
I don’t know about you, but I wish I could read that book right now! Lucky for you guys, Inkdeath is such a big book and should keep you busy for a while!
After the talk, everyone headed upstairs to Scholastic’s cafeteria for the launch party — and let me tell you, I have never seen the place looking like that! Scholastic pulled out all the stops to deck out the cafeteria like the forests of the Inkworld. My favorite decoration was a giant spider balloon on the patio area of our cafeteria. I literally squealed in delight when I saw it.
All in all, a magical experience with a fantastic author!
— Karen, STACKS Staffer