Interview with Christopher Paolini, author of Eragon books


Christopher Paolini began writing his first novel at age 15. "Inheritance," the fourth and final book in his series about farm boy Eragon and his beloved dragon, Saphira, will be published on Tuesday. (David Grubbs/ASSOCIATED PRESS)
November 4, 2011

Christopher Paolini was 15 when he had an idea.

He would write a book, the kind of book that kids like him would want to read.

A tale of bravery and battles, friendship and fortitude, dragons and danger.

Four books, 2,891 pages and almost 13 years later, he has done that and much, much more.

On Tuesday, Paolini’s epic tale of brave farm boy Eragon and his beloved dragon, Saphira, wraps up with the publication of “Inheritance.” Even his most loyal fans are unlikely to get through the 880-page book in one sitting.


(Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post)

KidsPost’s Tracy Grant spoke to Paolini from his house in the mountains of Montana about how he feels now that the project is over, how he has changed over the years and what readers can expect from the story’s conclusion.

So how do you feel to be finished?

“It’s hard to sum up all of my emotions regarding the series. I’ve been working on it since 1998, and I just finished it up a few months ago. I’m immensely proud to be finished and very excited for readers to be able to see the story as a whole.”

What can readers expect from “Inheritance”?

“My hope is that the book will fulfill readers’ expectations and surprise them. It’s always a challenge for an author concluding a tale. But I think this is the best book in the series. There are are great surprises. . . . I do kill a few characters, but I can’t tell you who.” (He laughs.) “I’m really, really, really itching to have people read it.”

How did you decide as a kid to write a book?

“It was really a personal challenge to see if I could write a book. I wasn’t looking for publication. I thought maybe my parents would read it, maybe my sister. . . . I wrote the first 60 pages of “Eragon” longhand because I didn’t know how to type on a computer.”

How have you changed over the years?

“I’ve gone from being mid-teens to heading toward 30, which still seems amazing to me. Going from being a young adult to an adult influenced my view of my characters.”

So how have the characters changed over the course of the books?

“Eragon and Saphira have grown to trust each other over the years. And as a result, they’ve been able to grow more independent of each other. In the beginning they were very reliant on each other, but over time they’ve learned that they could leave each other for a while and everything would still be okay. . . . It’s kind of like the relationship you have with close family. You can move away but still stay close.”


Paolini's drafts of his early novels were written longhand on unlined paper. His mother transcribed them onto a computer. (David Grubbs/ASSOCIATED PRESS)
What would you say to a kid reading this who may want to be the next Christopher Paolini?

“There are a couple of main things. Just writing a lot doesn’t necessarily make you a better writer. You have to hear yourself as a writer, and the best way to do that is to read your writing out loud. Then you’ll be able to hear things that sound wrong. I think I learned most from editing, both editing myself and having someone else edit me. It’s not always easy to have someone criticize your work, your baby. But if you can swallow your ego, you can really learn from the editing.”

What’s next for you?

“I have 20 or 30 books completely plotted out in my mind — mysteries, thrillers, horror, romance, science fiction. You name it.” He laughs and adds, “My goal is to write shorter books.”

You create a magical world in your books. Do you believe in magic?

“I think the closest thing we have to magic is the power of stories. It’s the power to transport us to worlds we could never visit, worlds that don’t exist. . . . I think the world around us is amazing enough that we don’t need magic. I’ve stood outside my house in Montana looking at the northern lights . . . crackling against the night sky. To me, that’s magic.”

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