Tuesday, September 8, 2009

An Interview with Christopher Paolini

I had no idea whether this would realize or not! :-) This is all thanks to Daniel Rabinowitz, – he sent us an email about a letter that Paolini had written to his fans, and I replied by asking if it would be possible to do an email interview with Paolini. After a few weeks, I got the reply, with the interview questions answered! :-) So, thanks to Daniel and Christopher for making this happen! :-)

First of all, South Africa welcomes you, Christopher, and let me tell you, we can’t wait to read Brisingr!

Thank you. I can’t wait for you to read Brisingr, too!

With Eragon and Eldest now under your belt, and millions of copies of both books having sold world-wide, and the movie adaption of Eragon, did you ever think that simply telling the tale you had in your head would lead you where it has?

The creation of Eragon was a personal journey, my attempt to write a book that I would enjoy reading myself, and the first part of a larger story. Publication was the furthest thing from my mind. I certainly didn’t know how big a project I had tackled, but as I poured my heart and soul into the story, writing it soon overshadowed other activities.

I have been blessed with good fortune in many ways, but the success of Eragon and now Eldest is based upon years of hard work and sacrifice, by myself and my family.

What was the first thing you did after writing (or typing) the final words of the first Eragon manuscript? Did you celebrate or take it easy?

When I finished the first draft of Eragon, which took a year to write, I sat down and read it through for the first time. As you can imagine, I was pretty excited. However, I quickly realized that the manuscript was unpublishable. The story was there, but the technical aspects of the writing needed serious help.

I spent a second year and rewrote the book, fleshing out the dialogue and the characters and the descriptions. At the end of the second year, I gave Eragon to my parents, neither of whom had read it before. Fortunately, they fell in love with the story and decided to help me self publish it. Before that happened, we spent a third year editing the book and preparing it to go to press.

After a fourth year spent marketing the book around the U.S., Eragon was acquired by the publisher Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers and it went through another round of editing. I learned a lot from this process, which was reflected in the manuscript for Eldest.

What were some of the more challenging aspects of writing Eragon?

The hardest part of writing Eragon was working on such a long project. I’m a slow and steady writer, so it’s necessary for me to put in long hours each day to complete a novel. It helps me to have a routine. I get up, eat breakfast, write until late afternoon—with a short break for lunch, exercise, then eat dinner and relax with a movie. I often write again in the evening. Yes, it’s a lot of work. But the plot and characters are so interesting that I seem to live their lives as I write.

Was there any time, after the huge success of Eragon, that you had to take a step back for a moment and suck in a few breaths to steady yourself again?

Those moments have been far and few between. Once a book is completed, I’ve taken some time off, and then I find myself getting anxious and restless. I’ve been writing long enough to recognize that there’s only one cure for those symptoms: beginning the next book. I have a story to tell and it wants to be told.

Would you please take us through the highs and lows (if there were any lows) of writing Eldest?

In Eldest, I decided to challenge myself by writing from several points of view. Because I had never done this before, I found it both exhilarating and a bit scary. I also developed my invented languages more fully, which took a tremendous amount of time.

Were there any times that your characters surprised you? Times when they may have done something or when the plot turned in a direction that made you think ‘Huh?!’ or ‘Now that will work like a bomb!’ ?

It happens all the time. I’ll be in the middle of a paragraph or a sentence, and suddenly I’ll realize that, no, Eragon would do this, not that. It’s a wonderful experience, because in that moment, the world and the characters seem to have a life of their own, and I feel as if I’m just transcribing the character’s own words, instead of inventing them myself.

Did you celebrate in the same way when you finished Eldest, or did you go bigger or calmer?

One of the fun things I did earlier this year was attend the Bondurant School of High Performance Driving, where I had my first experience driving a Corvette on a race track. And I also treated myself to a Damascus steel knife. It reminds me of something an elven smith might forge.

Would you please take us through Brisingr, give us a little taste of what we can expect?

Brisingr is the continuation of the adventures of Eragon and the dragon Saphira, as recounted in Eragon and Eldest, the first two books of the Inheritance cycle. In it readers will discover a ship made of grass, a forest made of stone, and a rose that is a star. And they’ll battle terrifying enemies and view the world through the eyes of a dragon!

And finally, how is the outlining for Book Four going?

I’ve completed the outline for Book Four last month. I’m very clear about the direction of the story, how it will conclude and the path each character will take.

Thank you for giving up your time for this interview, Christopher, and I’m sure that I speak for everyone who has fallen into the world you created when I say that we all wish you well that we can’t wait to dive into Brisingr!

Thank you for the opportunity to answer your questions. I look forward to visiting South Africa someday. I am interested in Cape Town, Table Mountain, the beaches on the Cape, and the South African people.

May you soar on dragon wings,

Christopher Paolini

Brisingr is published in SA by Random House Struik.

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