Friday Jun 07, 2024

Building New Worlds With Familiar Fantasy Tropes With Christopher Paolini | SCC 163

Christopher was homeschooled by his parents. As a child, he often wrote short stories and poems, made frequent trips to the library, and read widely. Some of his favorite books were Bruce Coville’s Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher, Frank Herbert’s Dune, and Raymond E. Feist’s Magician (now available in volumes one and two), as well as books by Anne McCaffrey, Jane Yolen, Brian Jacques, E.R. Eddison, David Eddings, and Ursula K. Le Guin.

The idea of Eragon began as the daydreams of a teen. Christopher’s love for the magic of stories led him to craft a novel that he would enjoy reading. The project began as a hobby, a personal challenge; he never intended it to be published. Before he began writing Eragon, he plotted out the entire adventure. He found that doing some of the same things as his characters allowed him to better understand their world, as well as to think of descriptions that otherwise would not have occured to him. To this end he forged his own knives and swords, made chain mail, spun wool, camped in the Beartooth Mountains, made his own bow, built survival shelters, learned to track game, fletched arrows, felled trees, hiked, and camped. In short, the books embody a great deal of his experience of living in Montana.

His work also combined elements gathered from research and from his imagination. He read a huge amount of folklore while growing up, ranging from the Brothers Grimm to Beowulf, Nordic sagas, and the Aeneid, along with contemporary fantasy and science fiction. In addition, he learned about weaponry, food, clothing, and customs from the Middle Ages, which is roughly the era he envisioned Eragon living in. Armed with that information, he daydreamed the scenes with his characters. Then he took pen to paper and tried to recreate those images with words.

Christopher was fifteen when he wrote the first draft of Eragon. He took a second year to revise the book, and then gave it to his parents to read. The family decided to self-publish the book and spent a third year preparing the manuscript for publication: copyediting, proofreading, designing a cover, typesetting the manuscript, and creating marketing materials. During this time Christopher drew the map for Eragon, as well as the dragon eye for the book cover (which now appears inside the Knopf hardcover edition). The manuscript was sent to press and the first books arrived in November 2001. The Paolini family spent the next year promoting the book at libraries, bookstores, and schools in 2002 and early 2003.

Copyright 2022 All rights reserved.

Podcast Powered By Podbean

Version: 20240320