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Our Exclusive Interview with Inheritance Cycle Author Christopher Paolini

November 7, 2011

Only one more day until one of the biggest book releases of the year: Inheritance by Christopher Paolini! The story of Eragon that began in 2003 is concluding with book four, on-sale tomorrow. We are thrilled to welcome Christopher to our blog today as he shares his thoughts on the writing process, advice for aspiring authors, why he loves dragons and so much more! And if you haven’t yet commented on our last Inheritance post, it’s not too late to check out the exclusive video Christopher made for our readers and to be entered to win a signed Inheritance easel.

Q. What book made the strongest impression on you as a child?

It depends how far back you go. When I was very young, I hated reading and writing; I just didn’t see the point of it. I felt that way until I found a children’s detective book in our public library, the cover of which interested me. I checked it out—it was the very first book I had ever checked out on my own—took it home, and started reading. For whatever reason, it was with that book that I finally fell in love with reading. It was as if a switch had flipped in my brain. All of a sudden, instead of seeing the word sunset, I could actually see a sunset in my head. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the closest thing to real magic that we actually have in the world. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the title of the book, but I do remember that it was about tomato sauce that was mistaken for blood, which seemed terribly exciting to me back then. Later on, it was The Ruby Knight by David Eddings. It was the very first fantasy book I read (if you don’t count Le Morte De Arthur). I had no idea that such books existed. In fact, I didn’t even know what the book was about when I convinced my grandfather to buy it for me. I just liked the Keith Parkinson painting on the cover. Reading The Ruby Knight was a transformative experience for me, though. It’s the middle book of a trilogy, so it sent me scurrying to our local library, where I checked out pretty much every book Eddings had ever written. Once I read them, I was at a loss. What next? I remember standing in front of Eddings’ books, staring at them, wondering what to do, when I noticed another huge book a few shelves down: Magician by Raymond E. Feist. A few shelves lower was the Mossflower series by Brian Jacques. And so my introduction to fantasy proceeded.

Q. What is one thing about you that would surprise your readers?

How ordinary my life is most of the time. And perhaps my fondness for horrible jokes and general silliness. (A favorite joke: What happens when a cow backs into a fan? It’s an udder disaster! I know, awful.) Also, though I write fantasy, I’m fascinated by science, and I spend quite a lot of time reading science blogs and keeping up with the latest research, especially in physics. 

Q. Are you working on a new book? What has your favorite event experience been so far?

At the moment, I’m preparing for book tour, which will last from Nov. 2 until close to Christmas. Then, next year, I’ll be traveling to Europe for more promotion. Thus I won’t have time for much writing for several months. However, once the touring is over, I’ll pick one of the many stories that have been bouncing around in my brain for the past ten years and dive into it. It may be fantasy, or it may be some other genre. At the moment, I’m rather tempted by science fiction, but don’t hold me to it.

My favorite event experience so far is probably a four-way tie between the time I got to duel with a fencing team on a stage inside an old converted church, a signing I did at the annual Steinbeck festival, the Renaissance Fair that one bookstore put together for my event, and the time that I was chewed on by a marsupial (a sugar glider) during a signing.

Q. What was your favorite genre to read as a teenager?

Fantasy, folklore, science fiction, and non-fiction.

Q. What inspired you to write about dragons?

Dragons are cool! That’s why! I became interested in dragons for many of the same reasons that young boys everywhere get interested in dinosaurs. They’re big! They fly! They breathe fire! And sometimes they can talk! What’s not to like? Also, unlike many other imaginary creatures, dragons have historically been linked to the health of the land, which lends their presence and actions a mythic weight that would otherwise be missing. In all, they present a rich dramatic opportunity for a storyteller.

Q. Do you plan to continue writing young adult novels or do you think you might write for adults down the road?

I will always try to write the best books I can. Whether those end up being for adults or young adults is something for others to decide.

Q. What is one piece of advice you would like to give to aspiring authors?

Two pieces, actually. Be persistent, and find someone in your life who can look at your work and provide constructive criticism. You’ll learn more from editing than you ever will from writing. It’s only by a conscious examination of your craft that you can improve as an artist. Blindly blathering on for years on end will only lead to more of the same.

Q. Do you ever experience writer’s block?

Only if I don’t know where the story is going beforehand, which is why I always plot them out before I ever put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard, as the case may be). If I’m having trouble working out a certain issue that crops up during the writing, the best way I’ve found for solving it is to go for a nice long walk. It’s a time-honored way for writers to clear their heads, and unlike many other techniques, it actually works. In fact, I know one author, Kevin J. Anderson, who actually dictates books while he hikes mountains. I don’t think I could go that far, but for me, walking is the great cure for plot problems.

Q. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

I’ve really enjoyed every chapter I’ve written from Saphira’s point of view. But my absolute favorite chapter is one I can’t talk about until Inheritance is published, not without spoiling the story. Ask me again in a few weeks, and I’ll be happy to tell you!

Q. Which character speaks the loudest, to you? Do any of them clamor to be heard over the others?

Saphira, Eragon, Nasuada, Roran, Arya, and Elva. Those are the characters I think of the most, and those are the ones I miss the most now that the series is over. It’s been months since I finished the book, and I still find myself wondering how they would react to this or that. After so long working on the series, the characters have become close friends, and it’s tough to say goodbye to them.

Q. What is the strangest question an interviewer has asked you on tour?

“If you could have a pocket-sized version of any of your characters, which would you choose?” I chose Saphira of course. Having a pocket-sized version of a dragon would be rather useful, I think. She could chase away mosquitoes, roast chestnuts for you, and keep your hands warm in the winter. You’d have to keep her away from the cats, though, and she’d be a terror to the songbirds. So perhaps it’s better that dragons, of any size, don’t actually exist.

Q. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?

First of all, a big “Thank you!” for supporting the series all these years. Without your help, I never could have finished the Inheritance cycle and I never would have had a chance to do what I love, which is tell stories.

Secondly, I hope that Inheritance will both satisfy and surprise you. My goal with the fourth book was to make sure it was a fitting send-off for the world and the characters.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 7, 2011 12:03 pm

    I love Christopher Paolini! And I absolutely cannot wait to read Inheritance – although I’m going to be sad that it’s ending. 😦

  2. dakota permalink
    November 7, 2011 12:33 pm

    I love the books i cant wait to read inheritance im hoping it was worth the wait 🙂

  3. November 7, 2011 3:19 pm

    Can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of this one! I have been waiting for so long! Great interview, thanks for sharing it!

  4. random permalink
    December 18, 2011 12:24 pm

    the ending was sooo bloody sad!!!!! i hate u paolini!! arya should have gone with eragon!!!

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