Cornwell, Autumn

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Cornwell, Autumn


Daughter of missionaries; married; husband's name J.C. (a visual effects artist); children: Dexter. Education: Attended college in California. Hobbies and other interests: Traveling.


Home—Los Angeles, CA. Agent—Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio, 306 Chase Ct., Edgewater, NJ 07020. E-mail—[email protected]


Writer. Has also worked in the television and film industry.


Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.


Carpe Diem (novel), Feiwel and Friends (New York, NY), 2007.


A dedicated world traveler, Autumn Cornwell was inspired to write her young-adult novel Carpe Diem while visiting Southeast Asia. "The adventures and mishaps I experienced in Malaysia, Cambodia, and Laos lent themselves to the story of a girl transformed by travel," the author remarked in an interview on the Ya Ya Yas Web log. "How would a sheltered American teen who'd never left the state she was born in react to being plucked from Washington State and plopped into a land of temples and squat toilets?"

Cornwell's zest for travel began at a young age; she spent part of her childhood in New Papua with her missionary parents. In an interview with Jen Garsee on the Class of 2k7 Web log, the author recalled those adventurous times: "I ate guavas from our own trees, played in waist-high mud on river banks, visited tribes of reformed headhunters and cannibals, lived through an 8.0 earthquake, cavorted outside during monsoons, almost drowned three times, watched my sister fall into an open sewer in Jakarta, kept my own pet fruit bat—and loved (almost) every single minute of it."

Cornwell's debut work of fiction, Carpe Diem, focuses on sixteen-year-old Vassar Spore, an ambitious honors student who finds—to her great surprise—that she will be spending the summer backpacking through the jungles of Southeast Asia with her bohemian grandmother. Once there, Vassar braves the extreme and unfamiliar conditions, learns the truth behind a old family secret, and discovers hidden strengths she never knew she had. In her interview, Cornwell described writing her novel as a "journey of transformation. Vassar's physical journey mirrors her interior journey. She's forced to deal with issues like ‘fish out of water’ and how rugged travel brings out the ‘Extreme You’—the real self with all its flaws, idiosyncrasies, and prejudices."

Carpe Diem garnered praise from several critics. A contributor in Kirkus Reviews called the work "a witty coming-of-age adventure," and Vicki Reutter, writing in School Library Journal, stated that Cornwell's "well-crafted story maintains its page-turning pace while adding small doses of cultural insight and humor." In Publishers Weekly, a critic observed that "the exotic settings and the wacky predicaments will exercise a strong enough grip to hold readers' imaginations."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, August, 1007, Michael Cart, review of Carpe Diem, p. 63.

Publishers Weekly, September 3, 2007, review of Carpe Diem, p. 60.

School Library Journal, November, 2007, Vicki Reutter, review of Carpe Diem, p. 118.


Autumn Cornwell Home Page, (October 31, 2008).

Class of 2k7 Web log, (December 22, 2007), Jen Garsee, interview with Cornwell.

Class of 2k7 Web site, (October 31, 2008), "Autumn Cornwell."

Ya Ya Yas Web log, (November 6, 2007), "Winter Blog Blast Tour: Autumn Cornwell."