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Cressida Cowell - Author

About the Author

Cressida Cowell, Waterstones Children’s Laureate 2019–2021

Cressida Cowell grew up in London and on a small, uninhabited island off the west coast of Scotland. The name of the island is a secret, but it was such a small island it wasn’t really big enough to have a name at all. There were no roads or shops or electricity on the island, just one house and a storm-blown wilderness of sea-birds and heather.

Every year, Cressida’s family spent four weeks of the summer, and two weeks of the spring, on the island. The family had to catch their own fish to eat. The house was lit by candle-light, and there was no telephone or television, so Cressida spent her time drawing and writing stories.

In the evening, Cressida’s father read the children tales of the Vikings, who had invaded this island Archipelago over half a millennium before, of the quarrelsome Tribes who fought and tricked each other, and of legendary dragons who were supposed to live in the caves in the cliffs. This was how Cressida herself first began to write stories about Vikings and dragons, back when she was eight or nine years old. Many years later, she turned her original childhood ideas into the book How to Train Your Dragon, featuring Hiccup the reluctant Viking, and his equally reluctant dragon, Toothless.

When Cressida wasn’t on the island, she was going to school at Marlborough College in Wiltshire where she met and became close friends with Lauren Child, a fellow author/illustrator and the creator of TV’s Charlie and Lola. Cressida and Lauren remain close friends. Indeed Lauren is godmother to Cressida’s daughter Clemmie.

After school, Cressida obtained a BA in English Literature from Oxford University, a BA in Graphic Design from St Martin’s and an MA in Narrative Illustration from Brighton.
Cressida wrote and illustrated her first picture book, Little Bo Peep’s Library Book, for Hodder Children’s Books in 1998. Her first novel for eight to twelve year olds, How to Train Your Dragon, was published to popular and critical acclaim in 2003: ‘The next big thing in children’s literature,’ wrote The Independent on Sunday. ‘Irresistibly funny, exciting and endearing,’ said The Times.

How to Train Your Dragon has now been published in over thirty languages. Film rights were sold to DreamWorks Animation in 2003 for a substantial sum and the filmed version was released into cinemas in March 2010. The 3D animated film from the studio that created Shrek, Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda, was directed by Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois (the directors of Lilo and Stich) and produced by Bonnie Arnold (who produced Toy Story).

Cressida Cowell is the head judge of the Wicked Young Writers Award and provided these top tips to budding writers:

* My top writing tip would be to read lots, to give you a feel for the way different stories can be told. Also practise writing as much as you can – write, and re-write – don’t worry if you don’t finish a story, as long as you are practising, that’s what matters. Also don’t worry if your stories aren’t very long: I didn’t start out writing books as long as the ones I write now.

* You can still do research when you are creating your own fantasy world. Kids often think that ideas get beamed into an author’s head, or that when you write fantasy you can’t do background reading, but many ideas in The Wizards of Once were sparked by books I read about the history of magic, and magical creatures. 

* You can be inspired by your own experiences. Ideas I had about Vikings and dragons during summer holidays when I was 9 years old became 12 books, and a film and TV series. I had a slightly unusual childhood (I spent my summers on an uninhabited Scottish Island), but the world we all live in is full of extraordinary, wonderful idea for stories. You only have to watch an episode of Blue Planet to see that’s true.

* I always begin my stories with a map of my imaginary place. Lots of other authors have done the same – Robert Louis Stevenson drew a map of Treasure Island before starting to write. This is a really easy way of thinking about characters and setting. 

* Often kids say to be that they aren’t very good at writing, but I know that’s not true – what they’re struggling with is the mechanics of getting the words onto paper. If you can make up a game in the playground, or you tell your friends stories, you can be an author! Get an adult to write or type for you, if you need to. 

* Keep an ideas notebook so you can scribble down ideas and drawings. This doesn’t need to be neat, and no one should be correcting it for spelling, because spelling doesn’t matter. I kept an sketchbook for The Wizards of Once for about 5 years.

Featured books by Cressida Cowell

How to Fight a Dragon's Fury

How to Fight a Dragon's Fury

7+ readers

Author: Cressida Cowell Format: Hardback Release Date: 08/09/2015

Dragons vs Humans: is this the end? Find out in the twelfth book in the How to Train Your Dragon series. It is the Doomsday of Yule. At the end of this day, either the humans or the dragons will face extinction. Alvin the Treacherous is about to be crowned the King of the Wilderwest on the island of Tomorrow. His reign of terror will begin with the destruction of dragons everywhere. The fate of the dragon world lies in the hands of one young boy as he stands on the nearby isle of Hero's End with nothing to show, but everything to fight for. Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third's Quest is clear. First he must defeat the Dragon Guardians of Tomorrow and prove that he is in fact the rightful king, even though Hiccup has none of the King's Things and Alvin the Treacherous has all ten of them. And then he faces his final battle: Hiccup must fight the Dragon Furious and end the Rebellion ...ALONE. As Doomsday draws to an end can Hiccup be the Hero of the hour? Will the dragons survive? How to Train Your Dragon is now a major DreamWorks franchise. How to Train Your Dragon 3 is scheduled for 2017 starring Cate Blanchett and Jonah Hill and the TV series, Defenders of Berk, can be seen on CBBC and Netflix. Read all of Hiccup's exploits in the series: How to Train Your Dragon, How to Be a Pirate, How to Speak Dragonese, How to Cheat a Dragon's Curse, How to Twist a Dragon's Tale, A Hero's Guide to Deadly Dragons, How to Ride a Dragon's Storm, How to Break a Dragon's Heart, How to Steal a Dragon's Sword, How to Seize a Dragon's Jewel and How to Betray a Dragon's Hero. Check out the brilliant website at www.howtotrainyourdragonbooks.com It's the place to go for games, downloads, activities and sneak peeks!

ebook of the month

Other books by Cressida Cowell

The Wizards of Once: Never and Forever Book 4

The Wizards of Once: Never and Forever Book 4

Author: Cressida Cowell Format: Hardback Release Date: 17/09/2020

The final book in the Wizards of Once quartet - the No.1 bestselling series from the author of How to Train Your Dragon. Warriors and Wizards combine forces against the dreadful power of the Kingwitch, whose searing evil threatens not only the Wildwoods, but all its creatures. Xar and Wish are on the final leg of their journey. First stop: The Mine of Happiness. Here, starvation is never far away for the Magical creatures who toil in its horrible depths. Xar and Wish must escape and fast; Xar needs to take control of his ever-growing Witchstain, and Wish must achieve her Destiny. But the Tatzelwurm is in their way, a grotesque monster who threatens to block every entrance. Time is not on their side, but the forests are calling them. Will their combined strength be enough for the BIGGEST quest so far; to defeat the Kingwitch once and for all? A rollercoaster of suspense and surprise GUARDIAN Cowell is moving towards national treasure BIG ISSUE Another coup from Cowell SUNDAY TIMES

Hudlath a'r Haearn, Yr - Y Ddau Ddewin

Hudlath a'r Haearn, Yr - Y Ddau Ddewin

Author: Cressida Cowell Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 17/03/2020

Emily Brown and Father Christmas

Emily Brown and Father Christmas

Author: Cressida Cowell Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 12/11/2019

Emily Brown and Stanley are back in this fun-filled Christmas picture book. By the author of the bestselling How to Train Your Dragon series. It's Christmas Eve, and who's that outside the window? It's Father Christmas! In his shiny new turbo-charged sleigh, complete with sat-nav. But things aren't going quite to plan... Can Emily Brown and Stanley save the day? They'll just need some emergency reindeer, a star map and ... MAGIC! A charmingly funny adventure about cherishing traditions, this is classic Christmas storytelling at its best. *With a shiny gold cover!* Written by Cressida Cowell, the bestselling author of the How to Train Your Dragon series. Illustrated by Neal Layton, the artist behind Stanley's Stick and Danny McGee Drinks the Sea, shortlisted for the Laugh Out Loud Picture Book Award.

The Wizards of Once: Knock Three Times Book 3

The Wizards of Once: Knock Three Times Book 3

Author: Cressida Cowell Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 19/09/2019

The No.1 bestselling series from current Waterstones Children's Laureate and author of How To Train Your Dragon, Cressida Cowell. Enter a land of wizards, warriors, mythical creatures and powerful Magic in an exciting fantasy adventure. Wish and Xar are outlaws on the run, hunted by Warriors, Wizards and worst of all by WITCHES ... Can they find the ingredients for the spell to get rid of Witches before the Kingwitch gets his talons on the Magic-that-Works-on-Iron? Their next Quest is the most terrifying and treacherous of all ... and someone is going to betray them. Are you ready to KNOCK THREE TIMES? 'A rollercoaster of suspense and surprise' GUARDIAN 'Cowell is moving towards national treasure' BIG ISSUE 'Another coup from Cowell' SUNDAY TIMES

The Wizards of Once: Twice Magic Book 2

The Wizards of Once: Twice Magic Book 2

Author: Cressida Cowell Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 11/06/2019

The No.1 Bestselling Series Enter a land of wizards, warriors, mythical creatures and powerful magic in an exciting fantasy adventure from the author of How To Train Your Dragon. Witches are creating havoc in the Wildwoods and danger lurks behind every tree trunk. Wish is in possession of a powerful, Magic Spelling Book; Xar has a dangerous Witchstain on his hand. Together they can save the Wildwoods from the curse of the Witches but they are separated by the highest wall imaginable, and time is running out ... It was unlikely that these heroes should meet in the first place. Is it possible they are destined to meet TWICE? 'The detail of Cowell's world is a delight ...This one will run and run' The Observer Discover the magic of Cressida Cowell.

What Shall We Do With The Boo-Hoo Baby?

What Shall We Do With The Boo-Hoo Baby?

Author: Cressida Cowell Format: Board book Release Date: 21/03/2019

An instant children's classic Cressida Cowell's What Shall We Do With The Boo-Hoo Baby? is a sturdy rhyming board book featuring a group of worried farmyard animals - all attempting to soothe and entertain the naughty boo-hoo baby. A perfect book for shared reading with the very young. Is there anything that will calm baby down?

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