The German author, Cornelia Funke was born 1958 in Dorsten, in the German region of Westphalia. Following university, she worked for three years as a social worker in an educational project, working with children from difficult backgrounds. Following a post-graduate course in book illustration at the Hamburg State College of Design, she worked as a designer of board games and as an illustrator of children's books. Disappointment in the way some of the stories were told, combined with her desire to draw fabulous creatures and magical worlds, rather than familiar situations of school and home, she was inspired to write her own stories for young readers.
During her time as a social worker, she had worked with children from deprived backgrounds and discovered the sorts of stories that grasped their imaginations. These were the stories she wanted to write – ones that would appeal to bookish children and to inspire those children who hadn't had yet had positive reading experiences.
As a reader, Cornelia has always loved good fantasy, particularly British fantasy authors such as J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, C. S. Lewis Chronicles of Narnia, and J. M Barrie's Peter Pan. Cornelia Funke's own success is now international, demonstrating the universal appeal – and power – of her storytelling.
Cornelia Funke researches for each novel meticulously. For example, before writing Inkheart, she researched about booksellers, book collectors, book thieves and even book murderers as well as reading about martens and fire eaters. She then imagined the characters and the places they might go, writes down plot lines for the first 20 chapters. Then, and only then - after about six months – she writes the first sentence. A major novel will take her about a year to write. She always does her own sketches – in pen and ink (her grandfather was a famous etcher), she creates a picture of her own characters to help her write about them.
She married printer Rolf Funke in 1981. They have two children, Anna (b. 1989) and Ben (b. 1994). Up until 2005 the Funke family lived in Hamburg, Germany, when they moved to Los Angeles. Sadly, in March 2006, Rolf died of cancer.