Interview: Cressida Cowell, author of the How to Train Your Dragon series (From Richmond and Twickenham Times)
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Interview: Cressida Cowell, author of the How to Train Your Dragon series, comes to Southfields
Author Cressida Cowell is the writer of the popular How to Train Your Dragon series, which was made into a Dreamworks animated movie in 2010. She spoke with Alexandra Rucki ahead of her Southfields library appearance.
Alexandra Rucki: What inspired the How to Train Your Dragon series?
Cressida Cowell: I was inspired by my time that I spent in Scotland as a child. I grew up in London, but spent a lot of time on this uninhabited island off the West Coast of Scotland where we used to spend the summers. It was completely uninhabited, there was only one house on the island. It was the first place the Vikings came to when they invaded Scotland. It is very much a place that had the Viking feel about it and I used to imagine what if Vikings lived there. Even as a child I used to think this, because the vikings believed dragons existed, it felt like the kind of place dragons might live. I thought what it might be like if dragons lived in these caves. So it came from something autobiographical.
AR: Tell me about your next publication How to Betray a Dragon's Hero?
CC: It is the penultimate book in the series. My hero is at his darkest moment really. The dragons have rebelled against the humans. There is a human vs dragon war going on.
My hero is in hiding. It is a moment of betrayal and of him working out who has betrayed him, it is the most exciting book.
AR: Why do you think the books are popular with children?
CC: I think children identify with the hero. He is not the most popular kid in the class. He is quite a misunderstood character, a lot of children feel like that. A lot of children identify with him because he has difficulty living up to his father. Camicazi is the kind of girl that lots of girls would love to be because she is very fearless. And everybody loves the idea of owning their own dragon. That is a real appeal. And the fact the children in the books have such adventurous lives. It is that idea of children being able to have adventures. Children feel they always have to have adults around, and they don't have that freedom. But in the books the children are completely unsupervised, I think that is a real appeal.
AR: How did you feel about the film version? Was it what you expected?
CC: I loved the film version, I really loved it. The books are adventurous and funny, and I hope touching and moving. I felt the film was that as well. It looked stunning, I could not have been happier with the film. There are two more films coming.
AR: What is happening during the virtual author event in Southfields Library? Do you think more events like these are needed to encourage children to read?
CC: The idea behind it was because lots of schools asked me to come in and talk. That can be so exciting for children, it can have a big effect. I am not able to come into as many schools as I don't have the time to go to all of them. My publishers thought why not do an event like one of my other events, but allow any school to tap into it. I think it is the first time they have done that before, it is a bit of a try out for them. I do think that the adult talking excitedly and positively about a books can have a big effect on getting children into reading. It is more of a challenge to get children reading nowadays because of wonderful television and computers. Nowadays we are all trying to work together to get children excited about reading and trying many different ways as we possibly can. It is an effective way to get children excited about reading.
AR: What books do you buy for your children?
CC: I buy a different range. I go to libraries, second hand book shops and get them books I loved as a child. Sometimes they feel a bit old fashioned to children. I was reading Pippy Longstocking to my son and Diana Wynne Jones, who I love. Willard Price felt a bit too old fashioned. I try a lot of different books to see what they like. Every child is different, you need to try lots of different books to see what your particular child really likes. My middle kid is very into Louise Rennison, who writes the Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging books. My older kid is into the Gone series. My son likes Harry Potter, my books and Tin Tin. I think you don't want to say to a kid you have to read that , you have to find what they like.
AR: How to Betray a Dragon's Hero will be your first ebook, but which do you prefer printed or screen books?
CR: The reason it is my first ebook is because it is difficult to put the pictures and words together. I integrate them, and this is the first time the technology has become available to place that.
There is a real place for ebooks, such as for holidays, it is a good way of reading like that. I have a fondness for physical books, I am able to flick back and you have the book to put on your bookshelf in it's physical form.
AR: What else have you got lined up for 2013? When can we expect to see the final book published?
CC:I have got to write it first. Right now I am also writing a book of dragon species to come out in time with the next film in June next year. It is a long first series of 12 books, you have to try and tie all of the ends of the story and children are very observant if you have something unanswered.
Cressida Cowell will be giving a live reading of How to Betray a Dragon's Hero on September 26 in Southfields Library.The book is released on the same day.
Join the bestselling author of How to Train Your Dragon in a FREE virtual event streamed live to your classroom on 26th September at 10.30am GMT. Get tips on writing and hear about the newest book, How to Betray a Dragon’s Hero.
Sign up NOW at: www.howtotrainyourdragonbooks.com/liveevent
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