Claire O’Brien is the author of the Cordelia Codd series as well as several titles in the Oxford Reading Tree including Absolutely Awful Adults, and a retelling of Pinocchio that will be out in 2016. She is currently working on updating some little-known French fairy tales from the 17th century where Cinderella has to deal with ogres and a girl sets sail on a mattress, with a talking dog.
WELCOME TO GHB CLAIRE.
Now that the third and final Cordelia Codd adventure is published, I miss her. It’s like saying goodbye to your best friend. But writers have to let characters go so that new ones can come into our imaginations and have their stories told.
Cordelia popped into my head back in 2008. She was just there one day, fully formed and very angry, telling me that she is going to be THE GREATEST COSTUME DESIGNER IN THE HISTORY OF CINEMA. She babbled on about the old films she loves to watch and how her parents are NQT (Not Quite Together), about er ex-best friends, and having EMPTY CHAIR SYNDROME, when no-one will sit next to her in class. It was almost like she tapped me on the shoulder and said, rather bossily, ‘Write all this down.’
Like me, when I was twelve, Cordelia has lots of faults — she’s bad tempered, judgemental and a little bit self-absorbed. Unlike me at that age, she has moments of real wisdom and can see when she is messing things up. She works REALLY hard on changing her negative side. It is her willingess to change that means, by the third book, she becomes much stronger and more confident, and a better friend — everything she needs to become happy. Perhaps that’s why I felt it was okay to let her go.
Starting secondary school can be a scary time and Cordelia is right in the midst of this transition. It’s very different from primary school, isnt’ it? You suddenly have all that stuff to carry around, timetables to follow, rooms to find, and bullies sometimes lurk in the corridors. I didn’t have a happy time when I went up to secondary school because I lacked confidence and bullies could spot me a mile off. I was a magnet for them! That’s all in the past and I’m now very confident and happy.
Cordelia’s wisdom, her sense of humour and her BIG DREAM of being a costume designer help to get her through some terrible problems at home and at school. When I visit schools I always encourage young people to THINK BIG about their lives so that their present troubles will feel smaller and more manageable. Above all, I encourage them to keep laughing because, as Cordelia’s friend, Dru tells her, life will move forward and our present problems will soon be ‘F..O..R..G..O..T..T..E..N.’
When you’re dealing with difficulties you have to eat well so that you don’t get exhausted. Cordelia has lots of help from her Dad with this. He’s a chef and he has taught her to LOVE good food. Her Mum wants to open a little cinema and, between them, her parents have a huge collection of old films. This is how Cordelia became fascinated by costumes and there are lots of references to great films in the stories. In fact, if you can name ten films that Cordelia likes, from the first adventure Not Just the Blues, I’ll send you a signed poster of the book cover. Just go to the web site and click Get in Touch to send me your answers. Remember to tell me the address of your school and a teacher’s name, and I will post it to you there. I have ten posters to give away.