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Cornelia Funke Founds Her Own Publishing Company to Release Reckless: The Golden Yarn

3 January 2016

From Black Gate:

Cornelia Funke is the international bestselling author of the Inkheart trilogy and more than a dozen other novels. Her latest to arrive on American shores is the third book in the popular MirrorWorld trilogy, which began withReckless (2010) and Fearless (2013). It didn’t arrive without some bumps on the way, however. According to Publisher’s Weekly, Funke was so upset by her publisher’s suggested changes to the book that she formed her own company to release it

At issue was a request by Funke’s publisher Little, Brown, to move the first chapter… to a different place in the book. After returning from a book tour in Germany where her publisher had released The Golden Yarn this February, Funke says she was “stunned” by the email she received from her editor at Little, Brown in the U.S., who she says was also speaking on behalf of the author’s U.K. editor. “It said, ‘We love the book, Cornelia, but could you please change the first chapter? It’s a birth scene. That’s a little drastic for our audience. Could you please put that somewhere else?’”

The opening chapter describes a dark faerie watching a princess give birth. “It’s about love,” says Funke, from her Beverly Hills home. “And it’s about what love does to you, and it’s about the fruit of love – a baby. The golden yarn is the yarn that binds us to people with love.” Her publishers also objected to the “open ending” of the book and asked Funke to turn it into an epilogue instead. “And I love that ending,” says Funke. After discussing these issues with her agents, Andrew Nurnberg and Oliver Latsch, Funke made the decision to part ways with her publishers and launch her own publishing house for markets in the U.S. and likely the U.K.

Well, it’s not every author who can walk away from a lucrative publishing contract midway through a series, and more power to her. Still, there are good reasons to partner with a major publisher — and one of them is that they understand the American market. I’d love to see Funke succeed, but the packaging for this book isn’t going to help readers at all. I received an advance copy of the book, and the completed hardcover, and several photocopied articles and releases explaining what it was, and honestly I was still confused about what book I’d received.

Link to the rest at Black Gate and thanks to Dusk for the tip.

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34 Comments to “Cornelia Funke Founds Her Own Publishing Company to Release Reckless: The Golden Yarn”

  1. They think they understand the American market. I think it’s looking more and more like they don’t at all.

    • Yes. That statement gave me a Linda Blair head twist.

      Dan

    • The NY publishers have always struck me as projecting their insularity and narrowness onto the rest of the country. I rarely hear of them making a change for the American market that seems on target. The only instance I can think of is when they changed the original name of the first Lisbeth Salander book from “Men Who Hate Women,” to “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”

      • To be fair the first thought I have when hearing the original name is that it’s a self-help or some other non-fiction category. On the other hand Dragon Tattoo makes me think of fluffy Chinese thrillers.

    • I don’t know. I hate birth scenes. Anyplace! There are far too many of them. I guess some female readers enjoy that sort of thing.
      I think the editor was right.
      And here again we have a bestselling author who thinks her words are golden and sacrosanct.

      • Oh, they have their place, for life is nothing but birth and death with a few bits in between …

        I even ended up with a birth in one of my stories, though it’s in the aftermath of quite a bit of death. (and it’s a quick and messy C-section — as the mother was one of those who’s no longer in the plain of the living, but there’s a chance for her daughter …)

  2. Reminds me of how Anthony Burgess was forced to remove the last (21st) chapter of A Clockwork Orange in all American editions until sometime well into the 1980s. I think his American editor informed him that the last chapter was “too Pelagian” or something, so they were cutting it. And they did, and he could do nothing about it. (This is also why the movie ends as it does, since Stanley Kubrick simply didn’t know there was more to the story.)

    As to this author, more power to her, though I admit I’m unfamiliar with this series. And I’m surprised Little, Brown (or whoever their corporate overlord is these days) let her walk so easily, presuming this series is profitable.

    • But Kubrick was based in London for many years. Surely he was aware of the UK edition’s ending.

      FWIW, many movies are cut simply to shorten their length so theaters can squeeze in one more showing per day. Up In The Air has some deleted scenes (available as extras in the DVD) that really hurt this wonderful film by not including them in the final cut.

      • FWIW, I thought Kubrick never read the last chapter, but this is not QUITE correct. Kinda, sorta, but not exactly. Per Wikipedia:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Clockwork_Orange#Omission_of_the_final_chapter

        Kubrick called Chapter 21 “an extra chapter” and claimed[8] that he had not read the original version until he had virtually finished the screenplay, and that he had never given serious consideration to using it. In Kubrick’s opinion, the final chapter was unconvincing and inconsistent with the book.

    • I see two tasks now before me: Find the unexpurgated book and reread it, and look up “Pelagian,” whatever that means!

      • For those, like me, who wondered: “Pelagianism is the belief that original sin did not taint human nature and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without special Divine aid.”

        Good to know.

        • thanks Patrice. Very useful… and it is also the premise Fr. Matthew Fox got silenced for by Ratzinger who eventually became pope benedict. Fox wrote a book called ‘original blessing’ and held forth as you indicated. The church however apparently holds that all little ones are born with a ‘stain’ that can only be removed by them.

          • I don’t want to drag this into religion, but you’ve misrepresented the Church. IT teaches that the stain of sin can only be cleansed by God. Whereas Pelagianism teaches that God is not necessary and this is why it is considered a heresy.

            • Sorry Sarah McCabe. Certainly didnt mean to “misrepresent the Church” tho puzzled about which of the many many sects of ‘church’ you are speaking about. But no matter. We dont have to highjack this post. My point was about being silenced as a form of any religious view, including the quasi religion of publishing’s high priests.

              I’ll look into it some more, but as with this writer– her editor wanting to remove to elsewhere the opening scene of birth… I was just noting among other things, the resonance of ‘the Church’s” whichever ones apply, who created an entire backstory of claiming women being unclean after giving birth [not to mention every 28 days or so], the concept written by men about all being born with the stain, and needing priests to call on God to remove the stain, and etc. has a certain resonance to being silenced by the editor who appears to find birth and all attendant elements which are more real than real blood water and tissue-wise… men help animals birth and often enough, women, too… that such would be found to be ‘too much’ for the front of anything ‘because readers’ might find it whatever– sounds familiar.

      • The Kindle version contains all 21 chapters. I, too, found Chapter 21 disappointing and inconsistent with the rest of the book. It came off like a lame attempt to rehabilitate Alex: “You can outgrow murder and the old ultraviolence.”

        IMO A Clockwork Orange is a tough read due to all the faux Soviet slang Burgess used. When I saw the movie, I heard ‘lomticks’ as ‘long ticks’.

        • It’s our chance to meet the narrator and the final point lf the book: Alex remains a Clockwork Orange, even as an adult. He does what society expects of him and no more or less. His actions is no longer violent, but has no remorse for what he’s done; his day to day life as a cog in the machine, in his mind, is no more or less evil than what he did when it was his duty to be a violent youth.

    • She might have had a contract with old-fashioned terms in it, like her publisher getting first right of refusal or something, meaning since they didn’t accept her book she had no obligation to make changes and resubmit? Obviously I’m not a lawyer, but I would bet her ability to keep her rights to that book are contract related and not the publisher being nice to her. No non-compete clause at least. And no advance paid.

  3. I’m a big fan of her. It is because of her that I write. She is a children’s author and I like the Mirror world. More power to her and I was also surprised that they let her go and gave her rights back. I’m wondering how she did that.

  4. Well, her website IS confusing, but not nearly as confusing as naming the third book the same as first book, albeit with a tagline. I wonder if she kept any of the foreign publishers she had for the first two books but suspect those were Little,Brown contacts(and contracts). I applaud her independence and hope her sales continue to soar. Still, I would do something about that title of the third book, and correct the Wikipedia and other public source materials.

  5. I actually really like her cover. It’s ethereal and interesting. It doesn’t look like it was colored with a box of crayons, like her American trad-pub covers in the series. It’s more subtle. NY children’s book publishers tend not to like subtlety.

    I also like the name she chose for her company: Breathing Books.

    Go Cornelia! Welcome to the shadow world. 🙂

    • I clicked over to the site to see what the objection was to her cover. I was dreading it, since I’ve seen that some trad pub authors who release ebooks as indies have awful covers. Just horrible.

      But no, Funke has great taste. The first one, from her original publisher, seems like a clone of so many others I’ve seen for YA fantasy. The third one, which she made, seems to be promising a different kind of story; not a clone.

  6. Here’s the real deal about authors like Cornelia Funke…

    As rancher/ publisher: You find yourself a wild mustang who runs the back country with the pack. You break one or two or ten out of the pack, for surely many in the pack as winter comes, will be near starving, and some for sure, will die.

    You bring them not into the barn which is a PRISON, but into a large many acres fenced habitat preferably with a creek, and you keep them there by feeding them.

    You make friends with them. Learn them. Learn their ways. Each is different. You never NEVER forget they are powerful, powerful forces that can leap most any fence.

    Someday, they may indicate they will pull for you, for sure run to greet you whether you have treat for them in pocket or not– for horses develop loyalties, and as soon as they find you ‘horse-like’ yourself, they will often protect you, side with you, try to help you.

    And after a time of building this friendship, you know what to expect from the gifts each horse has. All have their own form of beauty and strength beyond strength that they display. All have differing amount of ‘work ethic’ and all have their ‘head’ strongness as well as tenderness.

    And as rancher, you help each to develop. You DONT hobble the horses, nor cut whither nor tail for some fancydancy idea of ‘show.’ You dont trim their ears, nor put a cruel bit in their mouths. You dont harm their hooves. You dont shoot a tag through any body part showing ownership. If you’re going to brand, its going to be small, fast, and first with a local.

    You dont leave beloved horses in snowstorm without feed even if you have to risk your own life to haul and throw the bales from your truck in a whiteout storm.

    For if you try to contain a wild mustang who has befriended you, if you try to trim them back, and ESPECIALLY take their colts from them, and harm their colts… let me put it this way… many a mean man has gotten kicked in the head for his useless interference with equus. Many a mean man lays in his grave wishing he could take back the arrogance that his will ought be greater than one who is stronger, a better runner, more loyal, more great of heart, a finer stallion or mare than mean man could ever be.

    All that just to say; when you have a fine horse, you have to trust THEM, not trim them back, else they will back up and with nostrols full open to take in most oxygen to fuel their muscles, leap forward and run like the wind and at the fenceline sail over like a muscled galleon. And be gone from you and done with you forever.

    Tho in your own sojourns, you may see horse, once-friend, standing at the canyon rim or at the bottom of the mesa, and horse may even nod its great head and mane in recognition, they will never ever again be yours. Not ever.

    Miss Cornelia’s agents, Andrew Nurnberg and Oliver Latsch, are thus far, unusual in giving grace to the author, instead of trying to tie her to Little Brown’s post in the middle of where maverick horses cannot thrive.

    For certain as with horses, as with certain authors, we come to trust them in where they might take us next; we dont need to ‘make sense’ of the ride before we make the ride, unless one likes to live life by flat rote.

  7. The Mirrorworld/Reckless series was always misplaced by being marketed as a Children’s Book, and the 3rd book really makes it obvious how poor a fit that series is to what Little Brown was trying sell it as.

    It’s funny that the ‘birth scene’ was where the line got drawn. The book is chock full of much darker and more adult and complex themes; 2nd World War in a Fairy Tale world, ‘true love’ in all it’s complicated forms, (unrequited, betrayal, jealousy.)

    • Sounds to me like she knows what she’s doing. If readers are confused for a little while, in the long run it’s best for her to have control over her work.

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