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’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.

Do you own a typewriter?

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No, I was never a friend of typing machines. I dreaded them. My first typing friend was a laptop called Mad Max!

What is your biggest fear?

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I was VERY afraid of spiders until the age of twenty, when I became the owner of a chicken stable. It was so infested with spiders of all kinds that I either had to forget about my fear or have my chicken starve. The fear disappeared like early morning mist and now I can even deal with the Black Widows in my garden.

There is no better feeling than meeting a fear and walking right through it. I am still afraid of deep water though as I am a very bad swimmer :) Otherwise I am quite fearless.

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.

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.

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 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 other jobs besides being an author?

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Being an author means having many jobs: writing, answering emails, having meetings, recording audiobooks, travelling...

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.

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 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:)

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.

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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.

Could you give me a tip of what can I do as training to be a future writer?

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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.

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!

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.

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