Q & A
Throughout the past years, Cornelia has been asked countless questions by her readers. We have compiled a collection for you, that will keep growing.
Do you have a favourite author who inspires you?Read the answer
Many! There is a list on Goodreads which shows some books that inspired me: T.H.White, Dickens, Kipling, Maupassant, Steinbeck, Heine and Buechner .... but that is only the tip of the iceberg.
Could you give me a tip of what can I do as training to be a future writer?Read the answer
Always have a pen and a notebook with you. Collect ideas and stories like pebbles wherever you go. And be curious about others and yourself and everything in the world. Always write your first draft by hand into a notebook. The computer takes all the playfulness and fools you to believe the first draft is already in print.
Could you give me your thoughts about the joy of reading?Read the answer
I was raised in a little town and the world was very small. And only the books opened a thousand windows. And they whispered the promise that the world is a wild and adventurous place.
Do you have any writing rituals?Read the answer
Oh yes, espresso, fruit gummies and liquorice, some chocolate, a candle, and music that fits with the time the story is set in.
What’s the best strategy to motivate yourself to write more often?Read the answer
I always want to write, so I don't really know how to answer that. Of course, we all know the days where we find a thousand other things to do. Just sit down in that case (it helps a lot when you write by hand instead of having to open a computer!) and write a few sentences. That usually puts the hook in. It’s of course easier when you work already on a story you love! Or on several.
Do you like the film adaptations of your books?Read the answer
Selling movie rights means accepting the fact that the richness of a novel needs to be shrunk for the big screen. Which makes TV so much more interesting. But I find it unacceptable when an adaptation changes my characters – which, for example, happened with Dragonrider.
I struggle like crazy to develop characters, I always fail, even if I create one, it doesn't have that oomph! factor. Any tips please?Read the answer
Don't look for an oomph! factor! Let them come — the ones who show up to have their story told by them. Then give them time. Find out what they love, fear, hate, dream of. Where they come from (they may lie to you first) where they were born, who their family is, their best friend.... and what they want you to write. About them, the world, life, yourself.... Feed the story with patience, passion and time. And many rewrites.
Why did you want to become an author?Read the answer
I was an illustrator, but I was awfully bored with the books I had to illustrate — so I decided to write my own story.
Why did you become a writer for children?Read the answer
Why I decided to write for children: Well, first of all I am an illustrator, so the first story I wrote was about all the creatures I yearned to draw. Only children’s books are illustrated nowadays (with exceptions) so there is one reason, but I think the most important one is, that I see myself as a storyteller and storytellers don’t tell their tales just for the grown ups, they tell them for everybody.
What they also know is that children still take this world and the big questions we all ask very serious — and they don’t wear a mask when they meet me- which many grown ups got used to do. ask me whether i’d prefer to be with 1000 children or 1000 grown ups in a hall and the choice would be very easy:)
So when I am asked why I write for children, I say: I do write for children, but adults are allowed to read my books as well:) There is nothing scarier than a grown up, who has forgotten about the child in him. We learn all our lives to be children, I believe.
What do you love about being an author?Read the answer
I can be a million different creatures and at a million different places with my stories — and that I come to countries for the very first time to find my stories have been living there for years in thousands of heads and hearts ... that is the ultimate magic.
Is it a sign that you should move on to a different story if you are having doubts about the one you are working on now?Read the answer
No, you should get only more passionate about a story when it gets difficult. Otherwise you will always try something new when the story tries to hide from you. Understand it, tame it, know its secret, explore, find out — and charm it. A story is a living thing. And sometimes they bite us or hide!
When is your birthday?Read the answer
On 10 December
What's your favourite place to write?Read the answer
Luckily, I can write anywhere — airports, waiting for a train, even walking my dog. I always have something to write down. Sometimes the best ideas come in the most unusual places.
Do you have children?Read the answer
I have a daughter and a son. Anna works as a restorer and Ben composes and produces music and works as a DJ.
What’s the most major thing to remember for writing children's/middle grade/YA books as opposed to books for adults?Read the answer
Don't think about that difference. Write the story that comes to you and write it the way it wants to be told. If you find a way to make it resonate with all ages you have fulfilled your task as a storyteller in the best possible way, but of course not every story allows that. nevertheless — never clip you imagination's wings by foreseeing what your readers want to hear. They will always surprise you (apart from the fact that children and teens are always underestimated).
What influenced some of the common traits in your characters?Read the answer
They mostly step into my room and are so much alive, that I ask myself where they came from. Of course, some oft them are the result of hard thinking, adding characteristics, manners, etc., but others are alive from the first moment they appear. When I wrote Inkheart, this happened with Dustfinger. He told me his name and he was so real that after a while I had the feeling that he was standing behind me whispering his story in my ear.
Do you listen to music when you write?Read the answer
Oh yes, I do. Mostly to classical music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Georg Friedrich Haendel or Henry Purcell.
Could you tell me what book you are most proud of that you have written?Read the answer
I cannot answer that question, as that would be like wondering which of my children is my favourite. The ones that were hardest to write were the ones where I wanted to change my style for the story- The Thief Lord and Reckless. If you'd like to know which one I am most passionate about — that's always the one I am working on.
Do you have any drawing tips you could give me?Read the answer
How you draw should be dictated by your eye, your hand and your heart (I am sure the brain is involved too:) So no one can really give you advice on it! You have to practice, a lot, copy drawings of masters in that craft, sketch from nature, your surroundings ... etc in short: keep the hand busy:)
How does one go about establishing a solid voice?Read the answer
Find it. Listen to your heart, the world, everything! Be patient. Feed your writing with your time and life and all the passion you have.
Does what you read influence how or what you write?Read the answer
Every book I have read so far — the good ones and the bad ones — influenced my writing.
Do you have other jobs besides being an author?Read the answer
Being an author means having many jobs: writing, answering emails, having meetings, recording audiobooks, travelling...
What is your source of strength?Read the answer
The world with all its visible and invisible wonders, good friends, anything that creeps and flies and swims and grows, and some very good-natured gods or/and angels who will stand by you, when nothing else could help.
Would you ever consider writing a book in which the main character has autism? I think it would be really cool to read about the different (and often magical) ways we autistics see the world. Did you know that I can talk with the seasons? You may have noticed that we've gotten quite a bit of snow all over the US - I'm afraid that was my fault. Ol' Jack Frost and I got into an argument.Read the answer
I love that idea. I have known children who are called autistic and I know some adults who could claim that label — I myself find it hard to put any label on human beings (I think we all have at least one autistic self in us) and I am sure you'll detect characters in my books who could be called autistic in parts, but .... that all said .... I will look at your way to see the world more closely and I hope one day you'll meet someone in my books who shares your view on the world.
Do you have a favourite book?Read the answer
"The Once and Future King" by TH White. It is the book I would take to the island, the book I want by the side of my deathbed, the book I wish I had written.