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.

What is the most important element of a story?

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Many and always different from story to story. Let the story tell you! And most of all — let the readers fall in love with your characters.

Do you listen to music when you write?

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Oh yes, I do. Mostly to classical music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Georg Friedrich Haendel or Henry Purcell.

How long does it take to write a book?

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It takes me about one year or longer to write a "big book" like Inkheart or Dragon Rider. But I have written books for younger children, which took me less time to write (about one or two months).

What influenced some of the common traits in your characters?

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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 like the film adaptations of your books?

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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.

What is your most precious memory?

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The birth of my two children – but in the past years so many precious memories have piled in my heart, that for the rest I can’t choose one. They are all about meeting people, finding new friends, working together – my memories oft he past years are like a box of treasures, and I am sure, there will be a time, when I will like to open it and look at them still shining.

Do you have a favourite book?

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"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.

Why did you become a writer for children?

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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.

Do you have any drawing tips you could give me?

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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:)

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?

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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!

What’s the most major thing to remember for writing children's/middle grade/YA books as opposed to books for adults?

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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).

Do you have any writing rituals?

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Oh yes, espresso, fruit gummies and liquorice, some chocolate, a candle, and music that fits with the time the story is set in.

I want to know if your location influences your writing?

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Location is like an another character for me. A very important character. It gives the story it's flavour and when I research it gives me a thousand ideas. Location is the canvas the story is painted on.

What’s the best strategy to motivate yourself to write more often?

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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.

What is your writing style?

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Hmmm, I have no idea. I never thought about this. I think there are as many writing styles in the world as there are authors.

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