What Began in Eragon Ends in Inheritance
As a teenager, Christopher Paolini took the world by storm with Eragon, the first book in his Inheritance Cycle, which became a phenomenal international bestseller and the basis for a major motion picture. Now, with the publication of Inheritance, Paolini concludes his young adult saga of dragons, fantasy, and adventure.
News and Reviews for the Youth Librarian recently caught up with Paolini and asked him how his life has changed since the publication of his first book, and what’s ahead in the future.
First off, congratulations on the publication of the fourth—and final—volume in the Inheritance Cycle! As a wunderkind of young adult fantasy, you became an international publishing sensation. How has your life changed since life as a homeschooled student? What are you most proud of in this journey of personal growth?
When I was a child, I never intended to become a writer. In fact, for a long time I thought I would grow up to be an artist, since I love drawing and painting. Bit by bit, however, writing the Inheritance Cycle consumed my life.
The success of my books has given me the opportunity to tour the United States, Canada, and Europe and meet thousands of my fans. This experience has given me a deeper understanding of people and helped me gain confidence as a public speaker and as a person.
I’ve become aware of the effect that stories can have on people’s lives as fans share how my characters’ actions have inspired them to deal with the difficulties in their lives in a more positive way. And I feel honored and humble when young people tell me that my work has inspired them to read more widely or write stories of their own.
It’s a strange and wonderful feeling to know that so many people have read my books. That my story has been so popular is a source of never-ending amazement to me, and I am immensely grateful for the support of my fans around the world.
At the 2011 BEA, you received the Guinness World Record as the youngest author to have sold the most books. What does it mean to you to be a Guinness World Record holder?
I used to drive my parents crazy reading facts to them from these books. I loved those books, and I still do. So to actually hold a Guinness World Record is extremely cool!
There will be a great exhalation from your fans on the day Inheritance is released! Their questions will finally be answered. What hints can you give us about the plot threads and loose ends that will be tied up in this epic conclusion to the series?
Ahh, plot threads, loose ends . . . hints? Hmm. Well, I can tell you that all the major characters have intense roles to play in Inheritance. And that many more werecats show up. And that it has lots of battles, romance, a goodly helping of magic, deadly amethyst crystals, and something that says, “scree-scree”.
With each successive book, how has your writing developed? Did the story meander far from your original vision?
I still have my original outline and first draft of Eragon. I was thumbing through those pages recently and was interested to see that the story arc is basically intact, although some of the characters move in different, more nuanced directions than I originally planned. Of course the final story is much richer than my initial conception. The characters of Angela the herbalist, Nasuada, and Sloan, for example, developed substantially as I wrote the books.
With Eragon, I was simply trying to write a good story, one that I would enjoy reading. I never expected it to be published. When I began Eldest, I felt challenged to repeat my accomplishment of actually writing a book, while also putting into practice all I had learned from my editor. So I decided to try writing from several points of view. I also took the time to develop my invented languages more fully, which was, perhaps, the most difficult part of writing Eldest.
Brisingr brought a new set of challenges. First, I had decided to try and write a chapter from the dragon Saphira’s point of view (that was actually a lot of fun). More seriously, I thought I was writing the conclusion of the story. I had always envisioned the adventure as a trilogy. But as I wrote through my outline, and it kept expanding, I realized that I had too much story to put into one book and that I would need another to do justice to the characters and plot. And that led me to write Inheritance.
Any new Inheritance Cycle movies being planned?
I’m not sure. Like many fans, I’m interested to know if any more movies will be made, but that is in the hands of the folks at the Fox 2000 movie company.
What will you do, now that the Inheritance Cycle is complete? Do you have any other projects in the works?
First I’ll be traveling on book tour around the United States and Canada. After the holidays I’ll probably do some touring overseas. Once I return home, I plan to take a break and catch up on my reading. I have many other tales to tell, in fantasy and other genres. When I’m ready, I’ll choose the one that inspires me most and dive into it.
And finally: May your sword stay sharp!
And yours as well! Thank you for allowing me to answer a few questions for your readers.