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.

Could you give me your thoughts about the joy of reading?

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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 children?

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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?

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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 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.

Do you struggle with writer's block?

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I don't think there is such thing! I came to believe that every story is a labyrinth (the better we get, the more elaborate it is) and the story will hide its heart in it as she likes to send us on a journey to find it. She teases us with wrong paths and wrong characters, she doesn’t reveal her secrets easily!

So when writers meet the so-called writer’s block—that means, in my opinion only, that the story tricked them and that they have to go back and find out where. Or cut a path through the hedge.

Whatever they do — those days are often the most insightful ones, as we do in the end understand the story better.

What are some of your insparations to write?

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The ideas come from the inside and from the outside. I collect ideas about things I am really passionate about, characters I want to talk about and that readers would want to read about. Then I collect ideas for places in the book, I look at photos and books about different places for inspiration. Then I start collecting little things about the story and background... until I have a chest full of ideas. Then I start writing the plot of the story, based on these ideas.

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.

How does one go about establishing a solid voice?

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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.

Did you want to be an author when you where you were younger?

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No, not at all — I wanted to be an astronaut first! And then a pilot, and then a thousand other professions, until I understood I was a writer.

Where do you get the names of your characters?

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I have name dictionaries, and I scan through them until I find a good name that fits the character. I sometimes also get names from plant dictionaries and animal dictionaries.

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.

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.

Why should people read?

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First of all- why should they eat chocolate? Because it makes incredibly happy. On a more serious note: because it builds windows and doors when the world seems narrow, because it shows us that we are not alone with what we fear and love, that someone found words for what we may not know how to express, because it shows us that the world can wear a thousand costumes, because it feeds our souls and hearts and brains, because it teaches us to create images in our minds, that are uniquely ours, because......it can make us hear the heart beat of the world.

What is your source of strength?

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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.

Do you like to read Charles Dickens? Do you like the Brontes? Do you like Mark Twain?

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I LOVE to read Dickens — I think The Christmas Carol is my favourite, but Great Expectations is of course glorious too ... and all the others. I also admire Kipling, Mark Twain (heavens, I was so in love with Huckleberry Finn), not sure about the Brontes or Jane Austen. I also love Ondaatje, Toni Morrison, David Almond, poets like Ted Hughes, Pablo Neruda, Garcia Lorca.... so many voices, so much written magic!

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