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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.

Hamandcookies Thu 01-Mar-12 21:41:12

My son (7) is currently ploughing his way through the series, and would love to know:

Which is your favourite dragon (and why)?


Of the books you have written, which is your favourite (and why)?

Lindor Fri 02-Mar-12 00:44:39

Hi Cressida,
we love your stories. your characters' names paint a picture and are refreshingly different to most other stories. I have to put in a vote for Big-Boobied-Bertha. It is a magnificent name, and always brings a smile to the face.

Thank you for making us laugh


StewieGriffinsMom Fri 02-Mar-12 06:45:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

scottishmummy Fri 02-Mar-12 08:14:52

q: what do you hope the children get from reading the books

we love your books and read them in a camped up gruff Scottish accent. love it!

stealthsquiggle Fri 02-Mar-12 09:42:32

Nothing wrong with Big Boobied Bertha at all, IMO.

I checked with DS - he too wants to know about your favourite dragons (so the question I asked before). His dragon (one of ~40 he owns, but definitely the dominant one!) says that's a silly question because clearly small cuddly red hand puppet dragons are the best (with Toothless a close second, and Stormfly third).

UptoapointLordCopper Fri 02-Mar-12 10:05:10

<< hijack >>

I'm curious as to where people get all their dragons. We have all kinds of real and made-up cuddly toys, but no dragons. Most remiss of us.

stealthsquiggle Fri 02-Mar-12 10:17:24

LordCopper - they're not easy to come by. DS's bossy characterful dragon was made by Keel toys, but I have never seen another one - and although a quick google reveals a nice Toothless-from-the-film (as opposed to Toothless-from-the-book) cuddly toy, I can't find any of the ones we have - including one from The White Company, several baby dragons which came from the US, a Disney one (Mushu from Mulan), and a Universal Studios one. The only one I can find, in fact, is this one - one of the latest additions, who belongs to DD. DS also has mobiles, wooden dragons, a huge papier mache dragon which we made, dragon figurines, playmobil dragons........

mjhubba Fri 02-Mar-12 10:22:36

Hello Cressida. We know you can train dragons but do you have any tips for training a Tory Councillor?! As an author I'm sure you love and appreciate our local libraries and are worried about how many of them are faced with closure? I am campaigning to save the Upper Norwood Joint Library in Crystal Palace, London SE19. What would be your message to councils who are threatening to withdraw their funding? How important do you think libraries are for children? Any comments very gratefully received and appreciated.
Best wishes Michelle

scottishmummy Fri 02-Mar-12 10:30:20

next book should be how to train your weans (the wee tumshies are rowdy)

UptoapointLordCopper Fri 02-Mar-12 10:37:52

Thank you Stealth. DS2's birthday coming up but even I who advocate only-b'day-boy-gets-present wouldn't dare to only get one ...

Slur Fri 02-Mar-12 12:58:03

Thank you so very much for your fab stories, we're reading How to be a Pirate atm and Emily Brown is one of our favourite books, you've brought a lot of giggling and pleading for "just one more chapter!" to our home.

My children adore Toothless and he has them in stitches, when I read Toothless he is distinctly and shamefully stereotypically Mexican. :blush: So my question is what accent did Toothless have when you imagined him?

My son (5) asks: "Are there any real life dragons? Have you ever found bones that might be a dragons?"

DD (7) spends lots of time writing stories and illustrating them and wants to be an author when she grows up. She'd wondered if you had any tips for her.

Thank you again!

MadameCholetWasMyFavourite Fri 02-Mar-12 13:19:40

Hello Cressida,

Another big thank you here from a mother of a DD (11) with the career aspiration of dragonologist. You have managed to tap into exactly the level of information and wit which has kept my daughter enchanted from the very first book and the subsequent monthly re-reads of the whole series(and you are the only author I have ever pre-ordered from Amazon).
I asked her what she would like to ask you and she rattled off a list, however, the two that she was most adamant about are: How old is toothless? this is to settle a debate with equally dragon mad best friend and also, how do you feel about the film portrayal of Toothless (physically) being so different from your descriptions and illustrations? (she phrased it a bit differently). p.s. my favourite is Horrorcow!

LottieJenkins Fri 02-Mar-12 15:39:46

Hello Cressida. My friends son has read all your books and loves them. He wants to know what kind of Nanodragon was Zigstar (the nanodragon in "How to speak Dragonese")

roisin Sat 03-Mar-12 03:54:40

I just wanted to thank you for your great books, and also for the time you spent chatting to my son and signing his books at the Hay Festival a few years (maybe 3?) ago. He's not the keenest of readers, but your influence has encouraged him to read more and more often. Last time we were sailing off Mull we waved at your island!

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Sun 04-Mar-12 22:51:48

The Q&A is now closed and we've sent a selection of questions over to Cressida. The archived Q&A will be live next week, when we'll announce the winners of the ten signed books.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 13-Mar-12 17:31:14

Cressida's answers are now back. You can read the full Q&A here:

Cressida Cowell Q&A

The authors of the ten questions she answered on the Q&A will each receive a signed copy of How to Steal a Dragon's Sword.

However....such was Cressida's joy at answering your questions, she also commented on a number of other questions and we're going to post her comments on this thread now. We'll be in touch with the ten winners by pm later this evening.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 13-Mar-12 17:37:17


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

Cressida says:

The problem is I I already HAVE so many characters! It gets a little confusing. Valhallarama will appear, but I have meant to put Snotlout's little sister Adelaide in so many of the books, but there is no room.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 13-Mar-12 17:38:11


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.

Cressida says:

Toothless would be absolutely DELIGHTED at all the attention, and Hiccup would feel a little embarrassed at the idea that anyone might be looking at him. SO, SO much luck with the parade! I feel very proud that How to Train Your Dragon was the theme chosen.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 13-Mar-12 17:40:20


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)?

Cressida says:

I love Bertha and Camicazi too. Um…this is supposed to be a secret, but I’m terrible at keeping secrets. Valhallarama MAY feature rather heavily in the next book…

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 13-Mar-12 17:42:09


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?!

Cressida says:

I do have a long-standing interest in Vikings, and the book was inspired by the time I spent on this little island in the Inner Hebrides when I was a child (check out my website, You can really feel the history of the Viking invasions in that part of the world. It was integral to the characters that they were Vikings, and it made it particularly poignant that Hiccup was having to live up to such an exaggerated idea of ‘manhood’.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 13-Mar-12 17:43:37


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...

Cressida says:

I will write at least 2 more Hiccup books. I can’t finish the story in this next book, either…The next book will be called How to Seize a Dragon’s Jewel.

DH’s thought is an interesting one…

Sorry about Camicazi and DD1. Camicazi was inspired by my own daughters, now aged 13 and 11. They’re not as good at sword-fighting as Camicazi, but every bit as chatty.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 13-Mar-12 17:44:41


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)

Cressida says:

Alvin the Treacherous is horribly, horribly lucky, isn’t he? And he has a sort of evil tenacity that keeps him safe.

I absolutely love the David Tennant CDs, he is the most wonderful actor. DS1 as Alvin, well, that would be quite something, and Fishlegs is one of my favourite characters…My family tell me I am most like Fishlegs.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 13-Mar-12 17:46:17


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

Cressida says:

Can’t tell you about whether there’ll be a reconciliation, or not, I’m afraid! That would be giving too much away.

I’m so glad you enjoyed the event at the South Bank, I really enjoyed it too, you’re working away on your own so much, and it’s lovely to see that the books are meaning something to people.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 13-Mar-12 17:47:30


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

Cressida says:

I absolutely loved the film. Books and films are very different mediums, so I was more concerned about whether or not it was a good film.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 13-Mar-12 17:48:18


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

Cressida says:

I am so pleased your son loves the David Tennant audio version, he is absolutely brilliant, David, isn’t he? Glad to hear Hiccup is featuring in World Book Day, and people have been writing in saying their children are going as Fishlegs, Alvin and the Witch Excellinor, too!

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