Before bestselling fantasy author Cornelia Funke met Mathew Cullen, cofounder and chief creative officer of Mirada Studios, in 2011, she had never given a thought to making an app for any of her books. A year later, however, she found herself deeply involved with Mirada in the creation of MirrorWorld: Past the Reflection of Your World Into a Realm of Magic and Adventure, which releases as an app on April 17.
MirrorWorld is Funke’s latest fantasy book series. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers just released Fearless, the second title in the series; the first, Reckless, was published in 2010. The German-born author is currently at work on the third book, tentatively called The Golden Yarn, in which she looks to Russia at the turn of the last century for inspiration.
The app was Cullen’s idea. “We wanted to tell Cornelia’s story in a new way through the power of technology,” he told PW in his Los Angeles office, “and make it more tactile.” It took eight months to make the app, during which Cullen and Funke established a creative bond. “We were able to give Cornelia the freedom to work in creative bursts. The app shows the world as Cornelia sees it.” Although the app, which will retail for $5.99, is about MirrorWorld, no text from the books is included in it. With the exception of one story, Funke wrote all original text for the app. “It shows the world of MirrorWorld, not a particular story,” Funke said. “You find out things you don’t yet know about the characters, almost like a backstory of the series itself.” It is the first time that the scenes and characters of her books can be seen as she envisions them. New characters are introduced in the app; they may or may not return in another MirrorWorld book.
The app, which will only be available for the iPad before expanding to an abridged Kindle format at $2.99 “soon,” is a 110-minute multimedia experience with 16 original standalone spinoff stories based on the MirrorWorld books. There are also characters’ journals, lists of eccentric items maintained in MirrorWorld, enchanted artifacts, and treasures; the Ogre Tavern serves as the hub to every experience. The Compendium of Plants from the app is illustrated with zoological images of the Fairy Lily, Forget Yourself, Shadow Daisy, and several more. Touch the translucent hanging parchment in the Ogre Tavern to find Chanute’s Treasure List – Sleeping Beauty’s Bed, Witch Needel (sic), and Seeing-Owl Fethers (sic) among others. There is also a selection of recipes from the Child-Eating Witch, gruesome and humorous at the same time, read aloud in the app by children. Altogether, there are more than 9,000 “assets” in the app.
Funke’s new stories in the app, from “The Yearning: The Heartbreaking Ballad of a Dark Witch’s Worst Nightmare” to “Hopes & Dreams,” about two boys setting out on an adventure only to meet up with a frightening “goyle,” are read by Funke. The reader is given the choice to either experience the stories by viewing the illustrations with text, or simply read the text.
The first two titles in the MirrorWorld series can be purchased on the app; orders go directly to Little, Brown. Funke financed the app production by herself, with no participation from her publisher. Little, Brown will cross-promote it, however, with its marketing of Fearless. Funke said she plans to produce more apps with Cullen, the next based on the DragonFinder series, created specifically for children with learning disabilities or autism.