German author Cornelia Funke wanted to be an astronaut when she grew up…or live with a tribe of American Indians. She embraced childhood dreams as an adult, too, becoming first an illustrator of children’s stories and board games, and eventually a best-selling children’s author.
Last year, she was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, and for good reason. Her books have been read and adored by countless young people and adults throughout the world. She has published approximately forty novels in German, and has had ten translated into English (see our interview with translator Anthea Bell to learn about the process). Funke has won at least fourteen awards for her work. She’s been called the German JK Rowling…not only because of her popularity but because the worlds she has created are vivid and redefine the meaning of unique. How else to label Inkheart, a story about characters who fall out of a book and into real life? How else to label Inkspell, a story about trying to change a book by rewriting it from within its pages?
Maybe more than anything, what Cornelia Funke does so well is create fantastic and believable worlds and characters. As Time Magazine’s Clive Barker said,
There’s none of the mawkishness or attendant melodrama that so often mars Hollywood entertainment for children. She trusts her (underrated) prose, her moody, unpredictable characters and the instinctive feel of her plots, which are happily devoid of emotional manipulation.
…and which might be why she’s been embraced by an adult audience as well.
A big thank you goes out to Anthea Bell, who helped make this interview possible.
Interview with Cornelia Funke
Q: What was your journey as a writer? When did you realize you wanted to write, and when were you first published?
CF: I first was an illustrator for some years, till I was so bored by the stories I had to illustrate that one night I decided to write my own story to do the pictures I always wanted to do. I was immediately published, in fact, I could choose between several publishers, but it took me another few years, till I realized that I am much more passionate about writing than about illustrating – so since then I only illustrate my own books (except for the picture books). [Read more…]