Christopher Paolini was 15 when he began writing Eragon, Book One of the Inheritance Cycle. Now, nearing 30, he enjoys a success that is as magical as the fantasy novels he writes. His Inheritance Cycle (Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr and Inheritance) has sold over 35 million copies worldwide and is available in 125 countries in 49 languages. His journey has been extraordinary.
While most kids were playing baseball and soccer, Christopher, who was homeschooled, taught himself how to fence, weave, paint, and read ancient languages, and became expert at woodworking. He built a forge and created his own medieval armor. He read 3,000 books.
After graduating from the accredited distance-learning high school, American School, Christopher put pen to paper on his first novel. Inspired by the fantastic view of the jagged Beartooth Mountains from his bedroom window in Paradise Valley, Montana, he created a vibrant, compelling fantasy world. Helped by his family, Christopher self-published Eragon in February 2002. They sold nearly 10,000 copies through diligent self-promotion (including sales from the family car and Paolini visiting schools to address students his own age, in medieval costume).
In a few short months, everything changed. A Montana bookseller gave author Carl Hiaasen’s 12-year-old stepson—on vacation with his family—a copy of Paolini’s Eragon. The boy devoured it, declaring it better than Harry Potter. Hiaasen called his editor at Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers in New York. Quickly acquiring the series, Knopf (an imprint of Random House Children’s Books) edited the self-published Eragon and released it in August 2003, when Christopher was 19. It was an instant bestseller. Six months after publication, Eragon had already sold 1 million copies.
Knopf recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of this worldwide phenomenon with the release of a collector’s edition of ERAGON on October 22, 2013. This faux-leather bound edition features gold-foil line art on the cover and six glossy, full-color original illustrations on the interior by award-winning artists who inspired Paolini—John Jude Palancar (the Inheritance Cycle cover artist), Michael Hague, Donato Giancola, Ciurelo, and Raoule Vitale—as well as Paolini himself.
We had the opportunity to chat with Christopher Paolini…
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