Today we are thrilled to be the next stop on the official Reckless blog tour. We have Young Adult author Cornelia Funke over for a guest post to talk a little bit about collaboration and writing.
Please give a warm welcome to Cornelia Funke, ladies and gentlemen!
Of course it is. We all know the myth of the lonely writer at his or her desk, all alone with the words and, at the start, the empty page…
For me, the truth has always been quite different. First of all, I am constantly surrounded by my characters and so I don’t feel lonely at all. In fact, I can often feel overwhelmed by the many personalities that the words summon to my desk! But let’s forget about the literary companions. What about creative companions, of flesh and blood like ourselves? Writers’ biographies are full of these creative companions: friends, lovers, wives and husbands, secretaries, sons or daughters, other writers – no Moby Dick without the friendship between Hawthorne and Melville.
Collaboration, however, is a little different. Scriptwriters are quite used to collaboration, novelists aren’t. People who inspire novels are usually referred to as ‘muses’, and very seldom as ‘collaborators’ or ‘creative partners’. Very often they are treated like a dirty secret, because it might harm the notion of literary genius to admit that there was another imagination involved, another spirit, even another voice.
I found a creative collaborator – and yes, he was a true collaborator and partner-in-crime and, for sure, not simply a muse – because Lionel Wigram brought the idea of Reckless to me: He brought me characters and a story that will probably define my writing life for a decade, at the least.
Of course, I could have stolen that world! As Philip Pullman says: ‘Writers are magpies’. But the world Lionel inspired was so much his that in the first few months he often had to show me the way in this new adventurous labyrinth behind the mirror. When I wondered what a landscape looked like, or wasn’t sure about the colour of the shirt that our hero, Jacob Reckless, was wearing, I only had to ask Lionel. It felt like he had been born behind the Mirror. He had been there earlier than me, that’s for sure.
For the first book we exchanged ideas every single day for months; we had daylong discussions about the heart and soul of our hero, his obsession with treasure hunting and his love for his brother. We fought about whether the Red Fairy is in love with Jacob or not, whether we like the Goyl better than the Empress, how bad Valiant the mean dwarf really is etc, etc, etc. What an adventure, to suddenly have these discussions out loud not just in my head! How inspiring to have both a female and a male perspective on it! I still did the writing, but the imagining and plotting was done by two brains.
Now we are working together to prepare the edit of book two in the Reckless series. The second book has been quite a challenge, as Lionel has had to take care of his other creative child: the second Sherlock Holmes movie.
We worked on Skype and, in London, we worked in cafes and, in LA, at the Warner Lot – we constantly changed our rhythm. We worked for a few weeks together – plotting and exploring, finding and killing ideas – and then I went off to write for two months. My cousin, Oliver Latsch, translated the draft for Lionel (I still write in German) and we met again for a few weeks to prepare the next draft. By this time we knew our world and characters so well that we didn’t need the constant back and forth and it gave me the freedom to follow some crazy ideas. Sometimes I missed Lionel’s input though, so we got on the phone to discuss important decisions. Neither of us could wait for the next draft to be done, to get back to the fierce debates and to continue travelling side by side in the world we created together.
It seems that I will be mostly on my own for book three, as Lionel will be busy working on several movies. But Reckless will always be his story too and I am sure I will miss his ideas very much whilst I am behind the Mirror – and so will Jacob, Fox and all the others.
About the Blog Tour:
Make sure you stop by to check out the other stops on the wonderful blog tour:
We have ONE copy of Reckless with an autographed bookplate up for grabs! The contest is open to residents of the UK, and will run until Saturday July 9 at 11:59PM (PST). To enter, simply leave a comment here letting us know what your favorite Cornelia Funke book or character is. Good luck!