When I look back on my childhood as an avid reader, while J. K. Rowling may play a large role in the conception my fictional universe, Cornelia Funke plays the biggest. I first came across her work when my mom presented me with paperback copies of Dragon Rider and Inkheart as holiday reading when I was eight years old, and from then onwards I was hooked.
A German children’s writer, whose novels have caught the hearts of thousands of children and young adults worldwide, Cornelia Funke has a unique approach and style to storytelling which I have, since coming across her, always strived to match. Dragon Rider captivated me, my copies of the Inkworld trilogy are worn with use, while The Thief Lord has made me long to roam the streets of Venice since I was nine.
Cornelia Funke’s work has received countless awards and praise over the years and both The Thief Lord and Inkheart have been adapted to screen – although I will admit to being rather sceptical of the adaption of the latter. Inkheart’s unique ideas about the relationship between reader and book are some of the most intriguing and inimitable found in children’s fiction and have sparked many a happy fantasy.
As an aspiring novelist, who began writing a fantasy novel at a young age, I always drew upon Cornelia Funke’s work as inspiration and to some extent case material. Philip Pullman’s principle in writing is “read like a butterfly, write like a bee” and this I have always followed. I wrote her a letter once, enclosing a copy of my novel burned to disc, and received a kind, personalised reply on my twelfth birthday from her sister and a signed bookmark – and that was more than enough for me.
Words by Skye Mallac