Last week I was given the opportunity to interview Cornelia Funke! I was over whelmed with excitement and nearly backed out because Cornelia is one of my favourite authors ever and I was worried I would be struck dumb in the same way I have with previous authors I have loved. Luckily that didn't happen and I found myself chatting away for ages with Cornelia asking her all those burning questions I have had for years. I have had to break the interview down into two parts as it is rather long. The interview took place in the gorgeous surroundings of Covent Garden Hotel. Before I share my interview with you I must thank Nina Douglas from Orion for organising such a treat for me.
I have just finished Ghost Knight and I was surprised to discover it had an authentic British voice. How did you achieve this?
I was also surprised to hear this, but it also comes down to my translator because I wrote it in German. It was my cousin who translated it, Oliver Latsch and he had lived in England for eight years so he was quite good at get the right voice. He translates all my books now.
You did have someone else doing them?
Yes. Anthea Bell translated the Ink Heart series, but I really needed someone in Los Angeles so that I could work closely with them, so we switched to Oliver, which Anthea was fine with. It is easier to work with someone living in the same city.
Have you ever tried writing in English?
I do more now. I recently did if for the first time as I 'm working on a App for the world for Reckless which will include ten short stories. I also just wrote a short story which Jeremy Irons recorded which was really encouraging. I thought if he wants to read it then it must be OK. I realised I could do that.
The character Ella in Ghost Knight is based on Lionel Wigram's (co author of Reckless) daughter. Has she read the book?
Yes, she read all the drafts and she was very pleased. Even when Lionel read it he was surprised that is was really Ella. I asked her permission before writing it and she was really excited about it. I decided to base it on her after researching William Longspee and discovering his wife was called Ella. I thought what would it be like to name the young girl in the book Ella to remind this character of his wife. The real Ellas is a very impressive girl and when you have someone in real life you can base a character on it's always better than any fictional character you could create.
Talking of characters based on real life people, was Mo from Inkheart written for Brendan Fraser?
Yes. I wanted to know what Mo would look and sound like and I can remember watching the film The Mummy and I thought he had such a beautiful voice. I also wanted him to be a young father, a fun one. I didn't think any one needed to know, but then when the English translation was finished, I sent it to Brendan Fraser's agent, saying that I had written the character with him in mind, and should he ever read it to his children, he could tell them that he made the pages breath. A few months later, he wrote back and asked if he could visit me. My son had been watching George of the Jungle and went mad when Brendan arriving calling him George. We spent quite a bit of time together, skating and going to the Christmas markets.
That must have been a bit surreal?
It was. I did readings with him too. When he read it, he sounded just like I had imagined.
Did you go on the film set when they filmed Inkheart?
Oh yes.I was there for two weeks.There were some things about the movie which I didn't like, but the whole process was very surreal. To be surrounded by the characters you have created.
Will you be writing any more ghost stories set in the UK?
It is very tempting because ghost stories have wonderful layers - so many different aspects to write about. However now I have done this book, I am eager to try new territories, so I haven't planned to do another one but you never know. I have done several smaller ones before; the Ghost Hunters series.
After spending time with ghost hunters and researching ghosts - what are your beliefs on ghosts?
I did so much research on ghosts and the most interesting thing I read was 95 % of all hauntings reported are probably magnetic recordings of emotional moments which appear as a constant repetition. So there is a physical possibility of recording an emotional situation; a tense moment in someone's life leaving an imprint. They say that only 5% are true hauntings.
I have several friends who have seen ghosts and they have given very convincing reports but personally I haven't seen one yet. However there are so many possible sightings, it might just be true.
I read that you get your ideas all over the place. Where was the most memorable place an idea for a book came to you?
There are two - Salisbury and Venice. Venice gave me the idea for Thief Lord. The most recent place to do it was Moscow; I was there for three days and I was in the middle of writing Book 2 for Reckless (Fearless) and I had a nightly walk over the Red Square with my agent. On one of my walks I realised it would be a place within the book. Very powerful moment. I couldn't sleep that night after realising it.
When will Fearless be published?
It is already out in Germany. It will be published in April in England with Chicken House and with Little Brown in the U.S.
I have read that you always carry a notebook around. Have you kept them all and how many do you have now?
I have about fifteen to twenty of them. I put all my ideas in them. I love to work like that.
I saw pictures of your writing room. It is awesome.
Ah, it is a writer's dream. I only had a small room in Hamburg which didn't have room for all my books and pictures. However when I bought my house in Los Angeles it had a small guest house in the garden which I could use. So it allowed me to have all my books on show. I find it very inspiring to work in there.
Do you find that you go there in the morning and lock yourself away?
My children know they can wander in any time they want as I am not that kind of writer. It is just lovely to have that kind of space to work in. I have all the letters and pictures my readers have sent me over the years. All my memories, so it is really inspiring to work in there.
Do you have the Internet on in there?
I have very bad reception in there, so I try not to go on the Internet too much. Yet sometimes I am drawn in. I have a Facebook page for Reckless and I will often read the comments made by readers before I write as it can be an excellent boost for my writing, so sometimes I go on to the Internet on purpose. Yet I do try not to as it is so distracting.
Yet the Internet does make research so much easier to find. I used to buy all the books and search endlessly for facts but now it is so much faster to find out things.
I hope you enjoyed Part 1 of the interview with Cornelia Funke. Please pop back next week for Part 2.
- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Orion Childrens (4 Oct 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1444008234
- ISBN-13: 978-1444008234
- Amazon Price - £6.29
To find out more about Cornelia Funke@