Normally when faced with a wealth of junket information for a film, I like to put them all together in one big article, to avoid running four or five similar pieces. I’m making an exception here with Inkheart author Cornelia Funke, who was just too vibrant and exciting and full of insight to stuff into the big junket article. Plus, as an author of the book, a lot of what she said was unique to the experience, rather than similar stories about the production. As it stands today, Cornelia Funke has her name on 50 books at just 50 years old. That would be one book a year if she started the day she was born, but she didn’t start writing until she was 22 years old.
Writers can be a funny lot to talk to or be around. There are plenty of lazy writers, who write when they have to just to hit deadlines or get by. For example, the entire writing staff of Film School Rejects. Then there are writers like Cornelia. Someone so passionate about writing that they write from 10 til 2, take a lunch break, be a mom, and then write from 4 til whenever she feels like stopping. Putting out roughly two books a year, it’s evident she doesn’t stop. And if two books a year doesn’t impress you, get this – she edits each book 4 times. She doesn’t pay some nerd to read it, she tears through it, rewriting it virtually line by line until she’s happy. That much hard work earns you a level of success, a level that is letting Funke take it easy by slowing down her output to one book every 2 years. Anything she writes is virtually guaranteed to get published, though I’ve got a feeling her output is going to slow.
Funke first made it big in America after The Thief Lord took off and was well reviewed in America papers, though she had been a force in her native Germany for years. And it’s not just the books that are bringing in the cash – it’s the adaptations, of which there have been many. She’s had somewhere between 15 and 20 books adapted for the stage, including Inkheart, which sold out for 8 months straight. Unlike many writers, she’s also a big fan of the adaptations, having seen her fair share, from movies to plays to, no joke, puppet shows. Her view on it all? My books are my books are my books. An adaptation on screen or stage, done well or done poorly, does not change her books in the slightest, they still exist the way she wants them. Cornelia is also understanding of the process of adapting a book. Inkheart is an 18 hour audio book, compared to the run time of a movie which is only 2 hours. Funke knows its hard to adapt literature to other formats and enjoys the changes it takes to make the material fit the new medium.
With Inkheart, Funke found her book brought to life by, in most cases, the best actors for the job. In the case of Mo, played by Brendan Fraser, it couldn’t have been more perfect – Funke based the character in the book off of Fraser. Indeed, Fraser first found out about the novel when a signed and dedicated copy was sent to him by Funke herself. She admitted to him the character was inspired by him, who she thinks fit the qualities she wanted in Mo. She was looking for Mo to be both a father and child-like, tender, though capable of becoming a fierce protector. Cornelia is a very big fan of Mr. Fraser, enjoying his voice so much that she now uses him as the artist to record her audiobooks. In Paul Bettany, she found Dustfinger incarnate and seemed very happy with everyone involved. With Helen Mirren, who she described as a great actress, the fit wasn’t exactly what she imagined. On the page, Elinor was more of a Kathy Bates type, though Cornelia was, of course, quite excited to see what Mirren could do with the character.
Cornelia Funke is a magnetic and lively author who penned something special in the Inkheart trilogy. The film adaptation of her work is very enjoyable and will be released on Friday, January 23rd. On that day, be sure to catch our review of the film.
Have you read any of Funke’s work? Thoughts?