Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Interview with Cornelia Funke, THE GOLDEN YARN

How did your childhood—growing up in a small German town—shape your love of books and storytelling?   
I am sure it did in even more ways than I am aware of. I felt the world to be very small in my home town and only books (and tv:) gave me doors and windows on a world so much vaster and so much more adventurous. They were whispering promises with they pages - of so many places to discover, so many parts to play in life. They spoke of friendship, of betrayal, of heroes and cowards….they questioned the reality I was surrounded by and taught me that reality is in fact a many facetted thing. Books taught me to not just be a German girl from a small town, but an English girl discovering Narnia, an American boy called Huckleberry, and Indian boy meeting a bear and a panther in the jungle. Books open our minds in so many ways. They make us shape shifters and realize we are not alone with whatever fears, hopes or dreams we have.
You’ve expressed in the media before how, as a child, you were drawn to children’s fairy tales…but often the stories had “teeth” and a bit of a dark undercurrent. How did those stories influence your own writing?
Yes, in Germany I grew up with the original Grimms Tales - which are much darker and ‘grown up’ than the Disney versions:0 (though I loved those too!) I didn’t like fairy tales as a child - which child does? - I think I realized that i didn’t fully understand what they are about. Fairy Tales are time machines into a medieval past and often even pagan pre-christian times. They remember hunger and the winter’s cold being a mortal danger, they remember wolves in the forest and with the witches old goddesses long forgotten. No, I didn’t like them. But I couldn’t stop looking at my fairy tale books and listening to the scratchy LPs that told me those tales over and over again at night. So…yes, they were a vast influence. But I re-discovered them at the age of 50 and of course I found very different things in them at that age.

Nevertheless - as this sounds as if as a child I read nothing but Grimm’s fairy tales ….Narnia was at least as important, Michael Ende’s and Astrid Lindgren’s books and….Star Trek! I had to invent a new episode for my brothers every night!:)

You recently started your own publishing company, Breathing Books. How exciting! What is the mission of the new company and what do you vision for its publishing future?
Breathing Books was originally planned to be a label under which I could have creative adventures like my Mirrorworld App - storytelling that explored both paper and screen. But when my US and UK publishers asked me to change the beginning and the end of my new book The Golden Yarn, although it had already been published, I suddenly had to become a publisher of traditional books as well. I had always planned to also publish my out of print-titles myself so printed paper may become more dominant in BreathingBooks than we thought:) Then there are titles not published in English yet….and I would love to create books richly illustrated where art and word play together. 

THE GOLDEN YARN is the next installment of the MirrorWorld series – without giving away any spoilers, can you tell us what readers are in for?
I think this third book for the first time shows the whole world behind the Mirrors as it travels as far East as Kazakhstan. It will reveal the Mirrors’ makers and more about Jacob’s father. It will take Will back through the Mirrors and….no, I think I shouldn’t say more:)

Your stories are so imaginative and transporting.  How do you occupy that creative headspace in order to imagine these worlds? Does it come naturally or do you have any creative or writing rituals that help you suspend reality and enter this other world?
It comes quite naturally. I guess I was born a storytelelr, but nevertheless - stories want to be fed. I research very much - on fairy tale, history, places I use as my setting - and for years now I have been writing my first notes and my very first draft by hand into A4 notebooks, adding photos, paintings, sketches I did myself…these notebooks are a vastly inspirational tool for me. They taught me to play intensely with visual material, to feed my worlds with the magic of the world we live in and…on the way…to enjoy myself both with pen and pencil, I have more than 40 notebooks by now and consider them my greatest treasure. Nothing makes me see the worlds I explore more clearly. As for suspending reality - I believe that only reality feeds our imagined worlds. They are al mirrors of this one, so I don’t try to suspend it:)

What is next for you? 
I am currently editing A GRIFFIN’S FEATHER, which is a sequel to DRAGORIDER. It will be published in Germany in autumn 2016 and in the US and UK probably in spring 2017. Then I just finished the first picture book I wrote in English and illustrated myself, It will be called THE BOOK NO ONE EVER READ. I plan to send out 200 free copies to independent booksellers in spring to say thank you for everything they did for me in the past. We’ll then publish the hardcover edition with Breathing Books hopefully in April. In summer there’ll be a revised edition of the first RECKLESS book, newly designed and revised by me with all the knowledge I have about that world by now.

I hope we’ll be able to offer hardcovers of all three books with the new design and the original titles in summer, including fairy tale quotes to open the chapters and reveal some of my sources. And then - last but not least:)

I am writing THE COLOR OF REVENGE, a sequel to the Ink-books. I plan to publish it in three installments, as writers did in the 19th century, of probably twelve chapters, but let’s see…so far it’s just an idea. But ten chapters are written.

Jacob Reckless continues to travel the portal in his father's abandoned study. His name has continued to be famous on the other side of the mirror, as a finder of enchanted items and buried secrets. His family and friends, from his brother, Will to the shape-shifting vixen, Fox, are on a collision course as the two worlds become connected. Who is driving these two worlds together and why is he always a step ahead?

This new force isn’t limiting its influence to just Jacob’s efforts – it has broadened the horizon within MirrorWorld. Jacob, Will and Fox travel east and into the Russian folklore, to the land of the Baba Yaga, pursued by a new type of being that knows our world all to well.

Amazon buy link:

Author bio:
Cornelia Funke—known as the “German J.K. Rowling”—is a New York Times bestselling author, one of TIME Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People,” and one of the most successful storytellers of our time: Her books have worldwide sales of more than 20 million copies, have been translated into 37 languages and published in 43 countries.  Her bestselling MirrorWorld series, which includes Reckless, Fearless and a MirrorWorld interactive app, have been hailed as Provocative, harrowing, engrossing,” “Dark, enigmatic” and “Smart…full of twists and turns and the unexpected.”   

Funke made international headlines this fall when she launched her own publishing company, Breathing Books (see stories in The Guardian, Publishers Weekly).The decision to start Breathing Books came as a response to a creative difference between Funke and her U.S. and U.K. publishers, who required certain changes be made before moving forward with publication.

In December, Funke will release THE GOLDEN YARN, the third installment of her MirrorWorld series; it will be the first launch under Breathing Books. In many ways, Funke—who now lives in Los Angeles—is redefining what it means to be a published author; her bold approach to publishing across a wide variety of platforms is charting the way for the self-publishing revolution.  

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