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Reckless III: The Golden Yarn

Cornelia Funke

Here, we ask bestselling author CORNELIA FUNKE to tell us more about the latest Reckless book, The Golden Yarn, and her plans for the MIRRORWORLD series.

In The Golden Yarn, which is the third Mirrorworld adventure about Jacob and Will Reckless, the brothers return to the enchanted Mirrorworld through a mirror left by their absent father.

Jacob and his companion, Fox, are following Will who is in pursuit of the powerful Dark Fairy - but why is he trying to reach her? And what are the strange 'mirror creatures' protecting Will?

Jacob and Fox travel across many countries and as they draw ever closer to Will, they are forced to confront their own relationship and the promise that is keeping them apart.

Q: What was the starting point for the Reckless series and why did you choose mirrors as the entry point to the Mirrorworld?

A: Reckless had a very strange beginning. I caught a glimpse at the world it describes while working with my British friend Lionel Wigram on a script. I asked him for permission to use some of our ideas for a novel and discussed the plot and characters with him, while slowly making my way through the Mirrors.

I loved the idea to work with local folk tale lore and have the new and the old times collide in Mirrorworld. The doors to it were at the beginning ... doors ... once even a well Jacob jumped into (I still love that idea, maybe I'll use it one day:); but at some point I realized it is a mirror he uses. To find out who made it took me another few years, and I am still not quite sure the Alder Elves aren't feeding me wrong information all the time to lure me away from their true secrets:).

Of course I re-read Lewis Carroll to make sure my Mirrors are distinctly different from his (though ... maybe all imagined worlds are behind the same mirrors?)

Q: As in your earlier Inkheart series, in Reckless you blur boundaries between fairy tales and real life. Do you feel that this reflects real life, that these tales are somehow always with us?

A: Thank you so much for this question! For me fantasy is the most realistic genre because it takes the fantastic nature of this life and world seriously and allows us to scratch the surface of what we call reality (which mostly references the reality created somehow by humans).

And yes, fairy tales hold so much truth about human nature - very uncomfortable truth mostly - and they teach us to explore and grasp this incredibly complex existence through images - which allow us so many more layers of understanding than words, as they add our to subconscious perceptions effortlessly.

Q: You also explore the dark side of fairy tales in this series; are you bringing today's reader back to the tone of the original stories?

A: I very much hope so. Though I guess we are quite good by now at looking at the darkness of this world and our species. One just has to follow storytelling in TV - it is so much more honest about human nature and relationships by now, and about what we are capable of. A fantasy series like Game of Thrones has a far more realistic approach to history and mankind than many older fantasy dramas.

I think there was a (quite long) time when we liked to describe ourselves as far more noble than we are. Interestingly fairy tales (or maybe we should name them folk tales) always show our greed, for power or love, our wish for revenge, our ability to betray ... these tales are time machines showing us a feudal past, often even a past before Christianity, and when I read them it feels to me as if these stories strip us naked and show us as we are - afraid of the dark, of the forest, of winter and hunger - all this shaped us as human beings, but our modern times fool us so easily into believing that we are the masters of our destiny and this planet.

Q: You also bring humans into the world of folk tales, although the result is more warfare. Are you gloomy about humanity's impact on our world?

A: I think none of us can honestly claim that we are a useful and benevolent species. For being the most powerful creatures on this planet we have a devastating effect on it. One is often reminded of swarming locusts, watching our inability to respect the rights of all the other life forms on this planet. There is still hope that we will evolve to something slightly less selfish, but so far we are the great plunderers

Q: The magical (and dangerous) creations Sixteen and Seventeen - the Mirrorlings - are intriguing, how did they develop and what is their role?

A: I have not the faintest idea yet. They came into the story and surprised me from the moment I perceived their presence. I think their maker doesn't know either what parts they will play. It's a dangerous thing to create something that's alive :). I do know by now that Will is hopelessly in love with 16 and she with him, but where that will go...???

Q: At the heart of the series is the relationship between Jacob and Fox and what keeps them apart / together. Where will their relationship go?

A: Once again - no idea. I can't really imagine them living happily ever after together. But they may surprise me. I think it'll all depend on how much Fox manages to remain herself in that love and not loose part of her strength to love. I guess every woman knows that challenge. Maybe men do too.

Q: Are the spiders, yarns and weaves in The Golden Yarn a metaphor for that process of writing, as well as the interconnectedness they describe in the story?

A: While writing Reckless, I always feel like a story teller, not like a writer. In the Ink-books I was always also Fenoglio, who reflected on the magic and the mayhem of writing. Behind the mirrors I am a vocal storyteller and far more an acting part of the story. I am Fox. I am Jacob. I am the Dark Fairy and Kami'en. Of course I am also Nerron and Will and maybe even 16. I live their lives with passion and don't seek the distance of a narrator. For me Reckless is all about love. In all its varieties. But love perceived through the eyes of a woman - at the age of 57 :).

Q: There are many threads that need drawing together in The Golden Yarn; how complex was it to plot?

A: I do, a very rough one though, and one that already changed again while working on Book 4 - changing vastly in fact! I feel like a traveller who tries to give herself a goal - to then realize, that the road once again lead in another direction! :)

Book 3 was I think the greatest challenge in the series, as the world opens up so widely and so many secrets are revealed, so many characters are acting separately to then somehow intertwine their story lines. So far Book 4 is more condensed. Which is maybe not a surprise as after the vast lands of Russia; it is set on the islands of Japan:)

Q: If you could step into Mirrorworld, where would you go?

A: I think I would go to California, to find out what the lands I have been living on for eleven years, look like behind the mirrors. But then I would travel on, like Fox and Jacob, to Europe, to Russia, to Japan and China, to New Zealand and Australia and onwards to the South Americas and Africa.

Q: Your series inspire dedicated fan followings - what have you been hearing from your fans of the Reckless books?

A: My Reckless readers have a very special place in my heart, I have to admit. For two reasons. The series had a rough start all over the world and many readers were upset with me, because I didn't stay in Inkworld. Reckless defined me as a writer, as I had to decide whether to go the easy way and just continue with a hugely successful series or believe in the world I had found behind mirrors - which is in fact the same world, just 500 years later.

I decided to take the more difficult road (always a good decision!:) and to find the readers for this new journey, though they may be very different from all the Dragon riders and Ink worlders. It was, creatively, the most rewarding journey I ever took.

I just published A Griffin's Feather in Germany, my sequel to Dragonrider and publishers and journalists come to me and say: "I loved the first book, Cornelia, but heavens, this is so much better". I owe that compliment to Fox and Jacob, and to Will. They taught me things no other book did, and I can't wait to continue the journey behind the mirrors with them.

Q: What can we expect next for the Reckless characters in book 4?

A: The book has a working title: I call it THE ISLANDS OF THE FOX and I have 100 pages so far, every chapter doing something I didn't expect!

They are all in Japan, or Nihon, as it is called behind the Mirrors, and my readers will meet at least two more Alder Elves, Krieger and Toshiro. They'll hear about the Kitsune, the foxes of Japanese myth and otherwise... they'll hopefully be surprised as I am while writing.

I plan to write six books, and would love Book 5 to travel to the Americas and Book 6 to Africa and then to Spain, BUT ... I hear the Alder Elves laughing.

Q: What are you working on at the moment and where do you write?

A: I just moved from Los Angeles to Malibu - not too far a move ... my old house is about an hour's drive away, but I can walk to the ocean, I have a work room to paint on big canvasses (something I have been wanting to do for quite a while) and as my son said: now your whole house, is your writing house, mum.

I am typing this, sitting on a balcony, the pacific ocean visible in the distance, the mountains of Serra Canyon on my right. I intend to bring the wilderness into my life over the next few years, to support nature education for city children, to protect and speak up for the natural world ... maybe because I described its beginning decline behind the mirrors and sharpened my eyes for this side:).

I work on four book projects at the moment : First there is THE ISLANDS OF THE FOX and a project Guillermo del Toro, the film director asked me to do: a retelling of PAN'S LABYRINTH, with additional short stories about certain motives of the movie. As the film is my favorite film of all times I couldn't say no and so far working on this has been utterly enchanting. It is also the first time I work only in English.

Then there is THE COLOR OF REVENGE, which is set in Inkworld five years after the events of INKDEATH. One Third is finished and I now put it aside to continue in January. The fourth and last project is research for the next Dragonrider adventure, which means reading folk tales of the Maori and the Native Americans of Alaska. As a friend of mine said: be honest. It's all one big story by now.

Q: Do you have any UK tours or events planned?

A: Yes, I do. I will be in Newcastle (Seven Stories) on the 28th October to do an event with Garth Nix (what an honor!); there is an event in Oxford at the Story Museum on the 29th October; and on the 31st October I'll be at Waterstones, Piccadilly in London.

THANK YOU for answering our questions, Cornelia!

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