Good dukes it out with evil in novels

By John Rogers

Associated Press

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Her address these days is Beverly Hills 90210, but author Cornelia Funke really lives in a magical world of dragons and unicorns, witches and fairies, powerful fire-eaters and white-clad women of death.

With such characters, Funke pulls readers into her fantasy world by the millions.

Her latest book, "Inkdeath," is already a best-seller and wraps up a three-book fantasy-adventure that began in 2004 with "Inkheart." The trilogy chronicles the adventures of bookbinder Mo Folchart and his family after he accidentally conjures characters from a fantasy novel into the real world and havoc ensues.


Funke’s own incredible journey has taken her from the small German town of Dorsten, where she was born 49 years ago, to Beverly Hills, where she now lives at the foot of a winding canyon in a magical-looking cottage right out of one of her popular books, which include "The Thief Lord" and "Dragon Ride."

Funke and "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling, with whom she is often compared, have all but transcended the fantasy genre — once almost exclusively the domain of kids and a few geeky grown-ups.

Funke (pronounced Foon-ka) has captivated readers of all ages and backgrounds with the 10 million books she has sold, says Barry Cunningham, the British publisher and book editor who discovered both Funke and Rowling; both have created epic novels grounded in fantasy but written in ways that go beyond the genre.

"They’re timeless classics in a way … about good and evil," Cunningham says.

Their work has also brought greater attention to other fantasy writers such as Christopher Paolini, author of the breakout novel "Eragon," about a boy and a dragon, and the "Twilight" novels by Stephenie Meyer about a teenage girl and vampire who fall in love.

Funke has broadened her own audience with picture books for preschoolers, shorter novels for young children and the sprawling "Ink" trilogy and "Thief Lord" tales for the older crowd.

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