What’s next for fantasy writer Cornelia Funke and her latest Mirror World series? Malika Kingston joins the excited audience at her Festival talk to find out. 

St Mary’s Church in Barnes was packed, almost every seat occupied, even the awkward ones on the side. Who was everyone eagerly waiting to see? Million copy selling German-born fantasy writer Cornelia Funke. In a rare visit to the UK, the author of the Inkheart trilogy was here to talk about her life as a writer and bestselling books.

Cornelia started by speaking about living in Los Angeles and the late start to her writing career. She was a social worker and an illustrator before moving into writing children’s fiction. It wasn’t until the age of 28 that she decided to write.

As you’d expect, writing a bestselling novel takes time. Cornelia explained it takes her a year or more of research to create the foundations of the world she wants to bring to life before she even starts to write the story. “I’ve been working on the MirrorWorld series for eight years, so I know the roads, I know the name of every country, I know exactly what I’m moving into.”

Although her readers love the fairy fantasy series, her US editors had a different reaction to the third title. They wanted her to change some of the chapters – including moving the birth scene in the opening chapter – and tone down the language. This was a breaking point for Cornelia and caused her to go it alone, launching her own publishing house called Breathing Books. She then released Reckless – The Golden Yarn exactly as she intended to, “French swear words” and all.


Setting up a publishing house didn’t come without its challenges. Cornelia explained that when she found out her publishers didn’t want to release her next book without changes, it was just six months before it was supposed to hit bookshelves in the US. “I had to find a company, find line edits, get the book done, find a printer. It was a mad rush to keep that promise I had made,” she revealed. And she’s proud of her achievement. “I’m a storyteller for the world. I feel an obligation to all my readers.”

As the conversation went on, Cornelia talked about her early books, particularly Dragon Rider. Originally, there wasn’t going to be a sequel, but after 17 years she found the spark she needed to revisit the story. While working with artists on an App based on the book, she fell in love with the characters again, prompting her to write the next installment – a sequel her fans have always wanted!

To take a tour of Cornelia’s Writing House and stay in the know about the hotly anticipated Dragon Rider sequel, visit




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