POPULAR children's author Cornelia Funke says she is not a writer: "I call myself a story-teller," she told her audience at an In Conversation event led by the Dean of Salisbury, the Very Rev June Osborne.
In Salisbury for the launch of her latest book, Ghost Knight, Cornelia explained in the little chapel of St Thomas and St Edmund in Salisbury Cathedral how a visit 10 years ago with her family provided the inspiration: "I felt as soon as I walked into the Cathedral the first time that there were stories waiting to be told. Once the Cathedral guide showed us William Longspee's effigy, I knew immediately that here was my story."
Drawing on a mixture of fact and fiction, and involving a present-day 18-year-old boy called Jon Whitcroft who recalls the ghostly happenings of seven years earlier, Cornelia has woven a tale that is likely to persuade legions of young readers to beg to visit Salisbury Cathedral, the Cathedral School, Lacock and the church at Kilmington.
Costume designer Jenny Beavan created the ghostly robe and head-covering worn by Cornelia for all her appearances.
While in Salisbury, the multi-award winning writer also held two book-signings, led a creative writing workshop and a ghost walk in the Cathedral and surrounding area, and chatted with dozens of her fans.
To help young visitors a free Ghost Knight Activity Trail has been published jointly by Salisbury Cathedral and Orion Children's Books.
Cornelia lives in California now but she was born in northern Germany, and prefers to write in German.
Speaking in impeccable English she said: "I write all my stories in German because I don't feel my English is good enough.
"But I have started writing short stories in English."
Report and picture by Caroline Rippier