Q&A with Cressida 'How to Train your Dragon' Cowell - ANSWERS BACK

(71 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 29-Feb-12 11:15:48

In the second of our author Q&As in the lead up to World Book Day, we're inviting you to send in your questions to Cressida Cowell. Cressida has written and illustrated nine books in the popular Hiccup series which is now published in over 30 languages. Cressida lives in London with her husband Simon Cowell wink and their three children.

Send your question or your dc's question to Cressida before 5pm on Friday 2 March and the authors of the ten questions Cressida answers will each receive a signed copy of How to Steal a Dragon's Sword.

Sneezeblossom Wed 29-Feb-12 12:53:47

Hi Cressida, will you put more strong female characters like astrid in your future books?

Hi Cressida, firstly well done on your success!!
I am working in Y3 at a school who is using 'How To Train Your Dragon' as its theme for the Brighton Children's parade. They have been asked to think how toothless and hiccup would feel walking through crowds of children and portray that in the way they move in the parade.
Could you possible give them some suggestions in to your personal portrayal of those characters?
After seeing their reactions to the theme being chosen, i'm sure they would be so pleased to hear your own thoughts on how they should portray it.

wonderfultykes Wed 29-Feb-12 13:56:40

We love Big Boobied Bertha and Kamikazee; please, tell us a bit more about Valhallarama...How does the reluctant viking heir of the Hairy Hooligan Tribe engage with Mum, (or the memory of her flitting past Berk mid-raid)?

nameuschangeus Wed 29-Feb-12 17:43:28

I am really interested to know what made you choose Vikings as characters for your books. Did you have a long term interest/obsession and start out thinking 'ok, Viking novel' and write around that, or did you have the general idea for the characters and just discover over time that they would make great Vikings?!

Tmesis Wed 29-Feb-12 17:50:13

DS (7) would like to ask:

Will you write any more Hiccup books? And if you will then what are their titles? Why doesn't Snotface Snotlout like Hiccup?

And DH (rather older than 7) has a theory after reading HTSADS that you are dropping hints that the Hiccup-in-the-film is an ancestor of Hiccup-in-the-books and so the two can be retconned to coexist in the same fictional universe. Is he right or is he overthinking this just a little?

I would just like to thank you for creating Camicazi, who is an inspiration to DD1. Well, most of the time I'd like to thank you. Just occasionally she may be a little over-inspired...

Slaymill Wed 29-Feb-12 18:16:53

hello Cressida

Thank you for doing this webchat you obviously have a rich resource of childhood memories and adventures to draw upon when writing your books.

Many adults enjoy your books in the same way as JKRowling crossed over. Grown up men in my family love Train your Dragon books while the women love Emily Brown. ( the children are obvious fans too )

My question is will you do a JKRowling and write an adult book ?

Avoc Wed 29-Feb-12 20:40:54

Hello Cressida.

DS1 (6) wants to know how Alvin kept on not getting killed when he did far more dangerous things than swordfighting on the stairs.

And thank you for writing the books - and we love the David Tennant CDs (DS1 will be Alvin the Treacherous tomorrow on World Book Day and DS2 will be Fishlegs)

archfiend Wed 29-Feb-12 20:59:15

Hello,
DD (7) loves the books and wanted to ask how you came up with Dragonese - she is currently spending quite a lot of time talking to us in it so we are learning it too!

Fishlegs Wed 29-Feb-12 21:51:00

Hi Cressida, I've been reading your books to my 5 yr old ds, he loves them. We read them in order and have recently finished How to Steal A Dragon's Sword. He can't wait for the ?final instalment.

The books read well chronologically, with references back to the previous books, and we loved how the King's Things were all stuff that Hiccup had seemingly accidentally picked up over the series. How much was this planned out from the start? For example was the Slavemark always intended to be revealed at such a crucial point several books later?

UptoapointLordCopper Wed 29-Feb-12 22:32:16

Not really a question, I suppose, but we are all so looking forward to the next book! Will you have a reconciliation like The Other Wind or will there be an extinction?

I like Tmesis's DH's idea. Is Hiccup of the film the earlier Hiccup (I or II?) who made friends with dragons?

DS1, DS2 and I saw you at the Southbank Centre and we all greatly enjoyed seeing and listening to you. smile

aristocat Thu 01-Mar-12 08:24:48

Love your Dragon books here too, did you like the film that was made? Was it how you 'saw' your characters?

Codandchops Thu 01-Mar-12 08:31:13

Not a question just praise, we loved How to Train Your Dragon in this house. My son who is autistic LOVES the audio version read by David Tennant. We especially love how shallow the dragons are in the "will we or won't we stay with our masters" bits. Fabulous book and we are planning to read more of the dragon books.

And have seen at least two Hiccups going into school for World Book Day today grin

trifling Thu 01-Mar-12 09:52:45

We're big fans of most of the books. But we (parents) hate the name Big-Boobied Bertha. Do you ever wonder about encouraging kids to use names like that? I'm not alone in finding it offensive and unpleasant - I really don't like reading it out.

LilyBolero Thu 01-Mar-12 10:39:10

Hi Cressida,

I wanted to ask you about encouraging children's writing - dd (8) is an avid writer - it's not so much encouraging her to write, as not being able to stop her writing (along with reading) - we constantly find little paper books she has made (she staples together paper and then writes books and illustrates them) - and her writing is wonderful to read. We have a real collection of 'books' now!!

Do you have any suggestions for further ways of developing her writing? She writes about anything - mostly imaginative stories, but often reports on something they're doing in class etc, poetry, plays....

Thanks! PS We met you at the Bath Childrens' Literature Festival - (I'm sure you won't remember, but dd told you about how she and ds1 'play' Hiccup in the playground, and she always takes the part of Toothless!) - they are still talking about what a fantastic talk it was, and often quote things you said, especially about the island and the funny looking fish!

Mashford01 Thu 01-Mar-12 11:11:11

Hi

My seven year old son and myself were wondering what your favourite books were as a child? One of his is "The Hobbit". Did this book have any influence over your dragon theme or fantasy writings?
Thanks, looking forward to the next book!

snigger Thu 01-Mar-12 11:17:32

Hi Cressida,

On behalf of DD1 (11) and DD2 (9) I am instructed to first give you a hug, but not an embarrassing one. Hope that worked, or I'm in for it.

They then require that I chastise you for naming a character Tuffnut - their father has now used the name Tuffnutz in what I hope is a cap-doffing rather than sarcastic manner as part of his email address, and they're, frankly, mortified.

Finally, and here I quote them verbatim because 'It needs to be asked nicely' -

"When we think of dragons we think they are more Chinese because there are a lot of dragons there and we get told about them a lot - were you already interested in Vikings and longships and the dragons on them, is that why you made your book more Vikingy. Were the Vikings really that into dragons?"

Sorry about the 'vikingy', I'm just the typist here.

Thanks for the books, they're loved!

florenceuk Thu 01-Mar-12 14:15:01

Hi Cressida, both my kids (10 and 7) and I have really enjoyed your books. We are all on tenterhooks to read the last one but a bit apprehensive given the foreshadowing of an end to dragons shock. When can we expect the next and last installment (and will that really be the end?)

And as a bonus question, I vaguely remember Fishlegs was meant to have been brought up by a dragon but can't remember where I read it - which book is this in?

richmal Thu 01-Mar-12 17:22:58

dd(8) would like to ask:
How did Hiccup learn to speak dragonese?
She loves the books and would love to be friends with Hiccup, Camacazi and Fishlegs.

birdsofshoreandsea Thu 01-Mar-12 18:11:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

trice Thu 01-Mar-12 18:30:04

Hi Cressida. My ds did a school project on you as his favourite author. I was very envious of the idea of spending childhood summers on your own scottish island. Was it actually idyllic or were you bored stiff and desparate to return to civilization? Do you think all that freedom from distraction helped your imagination develop?

LineRunner Thu 01-Mar-12 18:48:26

Hello Cressida

My DS has asked:

How do you generate your characters' names?

DiaryofaSleepDeprivedMum Thu 01-Mar-12 19:44:40

Hello Cressida,

How timely is this opportunity?! My 7 year-old son, Caleb, is (and I'm not exaggerating here) obsessed with your books. He scrutinises the maps of Berk and the surrounding islands and your World Book Day edition inspired his first solo nocturnal reading session last night, so thank you!

Our question would be who or what inspired the wonderfully drawn character, Toothless? (I have to admit, there are times when I am reminded of my own son when reading about this mischievous little dragon, so it's unsurprising that Toothless is one of his favourite characters!)

stealthsquiggle Thu 01-Mar-12 19:58:50

DS(9) is a huge fan, and so is his cuddly dragon, who often cites Toothless as proof that she is marginally less stroppy angelic by comparison. Having run out of HTTYD books (we had the last one on pre-order for months) they have now both moved on to Temeraire, who is also pleasingly stroppy. Who are your favourite literary dragons?

I may be back with another question when DS gets home - I suspect the dragon's questions would all be about boy-training, and directed to her hero Toothless.

nenevomito Thu 01-Mar-12 21:17:12

Ahh Cressida. We don't know each other, but I both love you and could cry because of you in equal measure.

My DS has ASD and his specialist subject is dragons. All I hear about is dragons, all DS draws is dragons, DH and I are reading through the books at night as he snuggles down with the cuddly Toothless that one of my friends made for him, but its a stop-start affair as he interrupts frequently with either a fact or random question about dragons.

Oh yes, he loves dragons and while I'd say that I am just a hairsbreadth away from going slightly insane at the thought of yet another conversation about the dragons from How to Train Your Dragon, all is redeemed as it also gives me a way of bribing him or rewarding him, and for that I am grateful.

DS's main topic is which dragons could win a fight with another dragon under what circumstances - so if I could have the definitive answer to the following that would be great.

How can a Gronkle win a fight against a Monstrous Nightmare?

Please let me know and make a small boy very happy.

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