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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Christopher Paolini looks back at a busy year.

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Kvetha Fricäya!

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Kvetha Fricaya. Greetings, Friends.

Wow! A lot has happened this year! Most importantly, the book—and the Inheritance cycle—is finished. I couldn't be happier. And in a few short weeks, you'll get to read the conclusion for yourselves.

I can't tell you what finishing this project means to me. It would take a book as long as Inheritance itself in order to sum up my feelings with regard to the series—and Inheritance is no small book. As many of you know, I've been working on this series since 1998, and the initial idea even goes back to the year before. I've spent nearly every single day of my life since either writing on, thinking about, or discussing these books. And now they're done. Over. Finished. Finito. No more.

The actual writing of Inheritance was every bit as scary, exciting, and soul wrenching as I expected. Despite the fact that I've already published three books (four if you count Eragon's Guide to Alagaësia), I've never actually ended a story before. Not properly. Doing so was a unique experience. When I wrote the last scene, I felt this wave of heat rush through me, and I found myself shaking as if with a fever. I didn't cry. I didn't wail. The moment was beyond that. Thirteen years of work and emotion brought to a head. And saying goodbye to the world and the characters wasn't easy. I still find myself thinking about Eragon and Saphira and the other characters and wondering, What if… Funnily enough, it seemed as if nature itself was bound up in the completion of the book. I was in New York City for the last week of editing, and during that time, the city experienced both an earthquake and a hurricane.

As my editor, Michelle, said, “You have to finish this book, before any more natural disasters occur.”

So finish it I did.

Is it good? I think so, but then I'm biased. It's certainly intense. And as I said above, long. I thought for sure that Inheritance was going to end up somewhere between Brisingr and Eldest with regard to length. Shows what I know. Overall, though, I'm very proud of the book, and I can't wait for readers to get a crack at it. My greatest hope is that fans will feel that I did justice to the world and the characters, and that I sent them off in a proper fashion. (Make sure to look in the acknowledgments, by the way, for a few extra words on Angela the Herbalist.)

The completion of the Inheritance cycle is a huge shift for me, both personally and professionally. Even if I live to be a hundred or more, I won't get too many thirteen-year chunks. And I doubt I'll spend another of them working on just one story. It's possible that I will return to Alagaësia at some time in the future (I've laid the groundwork for that in both Brisingr and Inheritance), but it won't be for some time to come. First, I want to try my hand at many of the different stories that have been bouncing around in my head for the past ten years.

Aside from the writing, I've had a few other notable experiences this year. I got to attend BookExpo America in New York City, which was especially awesome because Random House hosted an event for their authors on the Intrepid, a retired aircraft carrier. Very cool. I also went to the San Diego Comic-Con again, which as always, is geek paradise. There I was fortunate enough to be on a panel with George R. R. Martin, Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, Kevin J. Anderson, Peter Orullian, and K. J. Taylor. I thought I wrote big books, but Martin, Sanderson, and Rothfuss make me feel like a piker. I also got to ride on a mechanical bull during a Random House party that evening. (Yes, there's footage. No, I won't be sharing it with you.)

On the flight to Comic-Con, my sister and I bumped into the crew from American Chopper, the Discovery channel show. (We were also on the same flight with Peter Dinklage, which was cool.) American Chopper made an Eragon bike based on the movie, but I'd never gotten a chance to meet the guys from the show before, so it was nice to shake their hands and chat for a few minutes. They were very polite and much quieter than you'd expect.

Let me see, what else? I bumped into Tyra Banks a few times in New York, once at BookExpo and once at the Random House building. She had a young adult book, Modelland, come out this September. She was very charming, very tall, and she signed a book to me with one of the funniest dedications I've ever seen. The word auteur was used somewhere. I've yet to read the book myself, but my mom did, and she compared it to a cross between Roald Dahl and The Wizard of Oz. I don't know whether to be encouraged or frightened by the prospect, but I'm certainly intrigued.

More recently, I met with Jake, the young man who won the Inheritance cycle video contest way back in December of 2010. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to meet with him until the book was finished, but when he was finally able to come out to Montana, we had a great time hanging out together by the base of the Beartooth Mountains. I was impressed; he had a list of detailed questions written up for me, questions that would have stumped anyone other than the author, I think. Congratulations again to Jake on winning the contest!

A few weeks ago, I returned from England where I went on a weeklong pre-release book tour. I hadn't been to England or the U.K. since 2007 (when the movie version of Eragon premiered at the Odeon theater in London), so this was a real treat for me.

One of my events was at the Forbidden Planet bookstore in London. Among the people who attended was a young man who had flown all the way from the Canary Islands to get his books signed. He also gave me a rather impressive origami dragon that I now have atop a bookcase in my office.

Two different fans gave me paintings of Arya, both of which I really like. It's fun for me to see the different ways that readers view my characters.

The following morning, I got to film some material for Random House while in the London Eye (the huge Ferris wheel). Fortunately, the weather was warm and clear, and I had an awesome view over the whole of the city! It was definitely a highlight (ha!) of my time there.

From London, I went to Manchester (fun train ride) where I did another presentation at Waterstone's Deangate. Then back to London, and from London to Bath, which was surprisingly hot. Now, when I do my presentations, I often tell the story of how I once—while promoting the self-published edition of Eragon—arm-wrestled a man in order to convince him to buy a copy. Well… during my signing at Bath, a young man (maybe in his early twenties) came up and challenged me to arm-wrestle him as well. Even though it was in the middle of a signing, I cleared off the table, and he and I squared off with each other. I was a bit worried about the outcome, as he was taller than me and fairly well built. Fortunately though, I managed to get the upper hand—literally. I believe the exact phrase he used was “freakishly strong for an author,” which left me feeling rather smug. However, dear readers, please don't take this as an invitation to challenge me to arm-wrestle at every one of my signings. The events will take far too long otherwise.

After Bath, it was off to my last event, which was FantasyCon in Brighton. There, I got to meet several fellow authors (including Joe Abercrombie, whose books I've been reading for a while now), and I had a lovely panel event, followed by a signing.

Overall, I had a wonderful trip. It was fun to be able to visit England, meet with some of my fans, and for the first time, to read an excerpt from the finished version of Inheritance. Hopefully, it won't be another four years before I'll be able to hop back over the pond to visit.

And now, it's almost time for the book tour. It's going to be an amazing experience, I'm sure, and I'm looking forward to meeting as many of you as possible and hearing what you think of the end of the series.

Atra esterní ono thelduin,

Christopher Paolini



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