Cressida Cowell is the author and illustrator of the very succesful "How to Train Your Dragon" series which recently spawned the very succesful animated movie of the same title.
I was lucky enough to see her speak at the Imagine festival at the South Bank Centre during half term. She bounded on to the stage with huge amounts of enthusiasm and spent the next hour entrancing her audience.
She started off by discussing the beginnings of her writing career at the young age of twelve. Dragged off to an uninhabited isle off the coast of Scotland for a two week camping holiday every year by her nature enthusiast father Cressida spent hours imagining the first inhabitants of the island - vikings - who had left some very small dwellings behind. She'd write many stories about vikings and dragons but never combined the two until much later.
She used slides to demonstrate how her imagination had been fired up by the creatures they would fish up from the sea - including a moray eel that attacked them in their boat, had to be dragged along behind them and then took her father half an hour to kill!
Cressida encouraged all the children to write their own stories and even brought along one of her first handcrafted creations to demonstrate that they don't have to be perfect. She suggested making plans or perhaps a map to start off with and told us each book she writes takes her about a year. She's been writing pretty much non stop since she started as her fans are always desperate for the next story.
Her next book - "How to Steal a Dragon's Jewel " is out in October (where we get to meet Valhalarama's dragon the silver phantom) and if you can't wait that long she has a story out for world book day in March called "Day of the Dreader" of which she read us a sneaky extract!
She answered many questions and discussed the dragonese language she created, Cressida is quite keen to write a whole dictionary!
Cressida was signing books after the talk and my son was thrilled to have a brief chat with her while she autographed a copy of his book. He asked her "if Alvin was ever going to die?" and she told him probably not! She also told us it had taken seven years for the film to get made but she was very pleased with the outcome.
I was also very happy to receive a special bag with the dragonese phrase "YUM YUM ON THE BUM!" written on the side from her very kind assistant!!
Cressida was a fabulous speaker and I'm sure her enthusiasm sparked off many budding authors!
I am off to see the author of "Mr Gum", Andy Stanton on Sunday so stay tuned for another author post soon!