Cornelia Funke is Germany's bestselling children's author after J. K. Rowling and R. L. Stine. In the fall of 2002, she made her brilliant debut in the English-language market with the release of the New York Times bestseller The Thief Lord. She is also the author of an acclaimed YA fantasy trilogy that includes Inkheart, Inkspell, and Inkdeath.
One of the most successful children's authors of our day, multi-award-winner Cornelia Funke started out as a social worker focused on the needs of disadvantaged youngsters. She enrolled in a post-graduate course at the Hamburg State College of Design, and left social work in the mid-1980s to begin a career as a children's book illustrator. However, the books she was commissioned to work on were prosaic and unimaginative, and she soon decided to try her hand at writing stories of her own.
An ardent fan of such childhood classics as Tolkien's Ring Trilogy and the tales of C. S. Lewis and J. M. Barrie, Funke was naturally drawn to the world of fantasy. She explained her attraction in a 2006 interview with the genre blog Writer Unboxed: " [T]he wonderful thing about fantasy is that it is the oldest way of story telling -- to clad what we feel and fear into disguises and make them more clear, to pass the borders of our every day life and use our imagination for travels into unknown worlds and unlimited experiences."
Although Funke was an immediate success in her native Germany, she was largely unknown outside Europe -- that is, until a young bilingual fan wrote to a British publishing firm inquiring why her favorite author's books were not available in English. The publisher hunted down what was, at the time, Funke's most recent book (The Thief Lord) and, in 2002, published it in translation. Already the recipient of several literary honors in Europe, the engaging YA fantasy went on to win the 2002 Book Sense Book of the Year Award.
One by one, as they are translated into English and published in America, Funke's wonderful stories have become huge bestsellers. Her ingenuity, imagination, and artistry shine in stand-alone novels like Dragon Rider and the Inkworld Trilogy -- Inkheart (2003), Inkspell (2005), and Inkdeath (2008). She has also produced picture books for younger readers, including The Wildest Brother, Pirate Girl, and Princess Knight. Fans who worry that this natural-born storyteller will run out of ideas can take solace in an author interview conducted in 2008 by Britain's Daily Telegraph. Asked if she had many more books in mind, Funke replied, "Oh yes, I am quite sure I won't be able to write them all down in a lifetime."
Good To Know
In German, Funke means "spark."
In 2005, Time magazine named Cornelia Funke among its "100 Most Influential Men and Women."
Funke claims to have written her popular Ghosthunters series "for boys who don't like to read."
When asked if she writes in German or English, Funke replied in a 2008 interview in The Washington Post: "I write in German. I've practiced this language for 47 years. I will never be a master in any other language. Anthea Bell, an old lady with cats, does the translation. She's amazing, and her translations are very, very true to my language."