Coming off Christopher Paolini’s new book, Murtagh, and our recent announcement of him becoming our 2023 Summer Reading Adventure ambassador, we had the exclusive privilege to ask this bestselling author about his process, inspiration, and current books. We can't wait for him to imbue these ideas to the kids attending our Summer Reading Adventure!
What inspires you as a writer?
[Paolini] My desire to evoke in readers the same emotions that I’ve experienced in response to a great story. Few things in life have given me such strong feelings, and because of that, stories and storytelling have become incredibly important to how I view the world.
How have your kids changed you as a writer?
Ask me again in a few years, and I’ll have a better idea. They’re both still very young. However, even in the short time that I’ve had with our son and daughter, they’ve very much taught me the importance of getting things done. One’s own doubts or discomfort don’t matter when a child depends on you for . . . everything. When compared to that, the potential embarrassment of writing a bad sentence isn’t even worth thinking about. Overall then, I’ve gotten much more efficient and focused, and I’m much more aware of how fragile the chain of life is.
The birth of a child marks the death of selfishness.
You became interested in folklore at a young age. What are some of your favorite folktales and myths?
I always enjoyed Native American stories about trickster coyote. In fact, I have a collection of native, North American myths sitting on my nightstand right now. Grimm’s fairytales, the Mabinogion, and the Epic of Gilgamesh have all been favorites.
Among more modern stories, I would include The Wizard of Earthsea (and sequels, A Little Princess (1995), Spirited Away, and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, all of which feel like a masterful continuation of an old tradition.
You were 15 when you first started writing Eragon. Do you have any tips for young writers, or those struggling to start writing?
Outline/plot your story before you write. Make sure you have a clear idea of what kind of story you’re attempting to tell, and what the events actually mean for your main character.
Write every day. Learn everything you can about the language you’re writing in. And make sure you focus on topics that mean the most to you; this will help you sustain interest through the months and months needed to write a first draft.
FINISH your first draft. You can’t fix what doesn’t exist.
And above all else . . . don’t get discouraged just because you write something bad. We all do. I certainly have. It’s part of the process. It’s normal. And writing a bad sentence/scene/chapter/storyline/character/book doesn’t make you a bad writer unless you’re unwilling to go back and fix what needs fixing. So it’ll take more work. So what? Life is work. Take a deep break, put your head down, and do what needs doing. Embrace the suck. You can do it.
What book are you reading right now?
The aforementioned compilation of Native American myths, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Garth Marenghi’s TerrorTome, and The King in Yellow. Also recently finished Blood Meridian.