Cornelia Maria Funke (German: [kɔʁˈneːli̯a ˈfʊŋ.kə] (listen)) (born 10 December 1958) is a German author of children's fiction. Born in Dorsten, North Rhine-Westphalia, she began her career as a social worker before becoming a book illustrator. She began writing novels in the late 1980s and focused primarily on fantasy-oriented stories that depict the lives of children faced with adversity. Funke has since become Germany's "best-selling author for children." Her work has been translated into several languages and, as of 2012, Funke has sold over 20 million copies of her books worldwide.Funke achieved acclaim as the author of the children's novels The Thief Lord (2002) and Dragon Rider (2004), which were translated and released in English after originally being published in Germany. She subsequently achieved wider recognition with the Inkheart series of novels, which include Inkheart (2003), Inkspell (2005), and Inkdeath (2007). The Thief Lord, Dragon Rider, and Inkheart have all been adapted into feature films and spent numerous weeks on The New York Times Best Seller list.Often referred to as the "German J. K. Rowling," Funke was chosen by Time as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in their 2005 list.