At 21, Christopher Paolini is an adult, but just barely. Still, much of what he has done seems pretty grown-up. He has written two 500-page books (finishing the first when he was 15). He also is an artist (he drew the maps in his books) and a linguist (he created the languages his characters use).
But none of what Paolini (pronounced POW-lee-nee) has accomplished would have been possible if he weren’t still very much a kid.
Paolini wrote the hugely successful “Eragon,” the first book in a trilogy about a boy named Eragon and his dragon. His second book, “Eldest,” was published last week and is expected to be an equally big hit.
We spoke with Paolini about how he created the world of Eragon, how it felt to be an author at age 15 and how he manages not to be too grown up.
Q. Why dragons?
A. Cuz they’re cool. That’s the answer from my 9-year-old self. The notion of being able to ride one, to soar around the mountains and into the clouds on such a magnificent creature is every kid’s dream.
Q. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
A. I never imagined myself as an author when I was younger. But I graduated from high school at 15 and I didn’t really have anything to do. I didn’t like being bored so I started coming up with something to entertain myself, and that was Eragon. Writing is a great profession — you can do it anywhere.
Q. What’s your writing day like?
A. I tend to get up, grab breakfast, sit in front of my computer (and not) get up until about an hour before dinner. I do this seven days a week, every week of the month, every month of the year. … It helps if you enjoy writing because then you look forward to it and try to spend as much time doing it (as you can). It’s like if you enjoy playing video games and that’s your job.
Q. Are you working on book three now?
A. Right now, for the first time since late 1998, I’m not writing a book. I’ve had a number of weeks to myself and then I’m going on tour (to talk about “Eldest”). I’ll be starting book three once I get back.
Q. What advice would you give to kids who want to write?
A. Don’t give up. It’s so easy to become discouraged, to doubt your own abilities.
Learn everything you can about the English language. That’s the tool of the trade.
Write about what you love the most, what touches you the most.
Writing a book is extremely tough, so you should only be writing about what you love.
Find someone to edit you. What you see on the page, what you read in the book, is not what the author put down in … the first draft.
Q. What do you want kids to get from your books?
A. I want them to feel that they have gone on a quest themselves and it has been worth the trip. If I give readers a tingle down the spine, then I’ve done my job.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.