An Interview with Christopher Paolini

Hello my lovely readers! Today I come to you with an interview. I have been sitting on this for some time now because my university commitments delayed my plan to edit and post this interview, that happened on the 26th of March 2019 in my school, the School of Arts and Humanities of the University of Lisbon.
Christopher Paolini was in Portugal in order to promote the Portuguese translation of his new novel The Fork, the Witch and the Worm. This book came out on the 25th of March, published by ASA, and its Portuguese name is O Garfo, a Bruxa e o Dragão.
In the midst of all of this, he accepted to lecture a very interesting open-class about writing Fantasy and Science Fiction. I attended that class and he was very nice in agreeing to let me interview him for a post. Believe me, he was very tired, so I am very thankful that he was able to spare some time to talk to me.
The Inheritance Cycle was one of the first Fantasy Young Adult series I have ever read. At the time I was very young and did not speak any English so I read the Portuguese translations as they came out. This is a series that lead me to read other fantasy books, it was not very long after reading the last book that I started reading A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin. I sort of grew up reading Paolini's stories about dragons so, interviewing him was a great honour.
I hope you like the interview! Don't forget to comment!

Christopher Paolini is the very well-known author of the Inheritance Cycle: you may remember that book series which starts with Eragon. He lived most of his life in Montana, where he was homeschooled by his parents. He became a New York Times Bestselling Author at only 19 years old and his books have sold over 35 million copies and are translated into several languages.
On the 31st December 2018 he published his latest novel and the first instalment in the Tales from Alagaësia series: The Fork, the Witch and the Worm.

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A: You’ve been writing for so long, how did your writing change from your first book? Since you started so young and had so many books in the middle.

CP: Well, I am much more technically skilled than I was when I started. So, the natural process of growing up and becoming more experienced has certainly helped me learn more about the world and certainly become more empathetic toward maybe the experiences that other people have in life. My basic writing process has remained the same, actually, and if anything, I have become much more convinced of the importance of plotting your story before writing it, outlining it, and all of that.

A: I actually sometimes have some contact with my readers and they tell me they are mostly pantsers but they aspire to be plotters.
My other questions are about your research. Your books, they do have a mythological emphasis but they still go out of it and expand into something else.

CP: I am a stickler for realistic detail. Even if you have mythological elements you need to treat them realistically. Ultimately, if you’re physically unrealistic in your story you need to be emotionally realistic. And if you’re emotionally unrealistic you need to be physically realistic. You could combine both elements and have like a fantastical world with unrealistic emotions, everyone thinks over the top, but it’s really hard to make people care about that. And, with research it’s very easy to gain, let’s say, 80% of the knowledge you need on a field or on a subject very quickly. The last 20% takes a lot of time and that’s where the experts spend their time mastering that. 
So, if you need to write about what’s like to sail a ship, as an author, I go get some books from the library or look up resources on the internet, you know, a couple of hours a day or two I have enough information that I can fake it. And then, if it’s something that is really important like a medical question or something like that in the story, I’ll ask a professional to look at what I have written and see if it works.

A: As a male, how is it to you to write female characters?

CP: Interesting question. I write my female characters the same way I write my male characters. I simply think of them as people. I try to imagine what seems natural for how they would react to the situations, given who they are. Are there differences between men and women? Obviously but, if I try to stereotype those differences or focus on them I will probably end up writing a very stereotypical view of a woman, just as the same would be true for a woman if she’s writing about men. And that doesn’t really help me as an artist. It’s certainly not good for society.
It is a difficult question and I don’t think that I am necessarily the greatest writer of female characters because I am not trying to capture what it means to be a woman, I am simply trying to write a person. And, that may mean that maybe my female characters might read more like men than women, I don’t think so, and at least they don’t read like helpless creatures that I’m, you know, objectifying.

A: My readers would really like to know how does it feel to be on book tour. It is such a thing in America, in Portugal it really isn’t and most of my readers are mostly from the UK and the US.

CP: What it is like to be on book tour? Well, physically: stay up 24 hours, drink 3 cups of coffee and do and say the same things for 6 hours straight and repeat. So, that’s kind of what it feels like. But, the nice thing is not the travel, the nice thing is to meet the readers, it’s getting to meet people like yourself, getting to meet fans and readers all around the world and that I very very much enjoy and it’s a huge pleasure for me and it’s the reason why I am willing to endure the jet lag and all these hotel rooms.
Writing is a schizophrenic profession, on one hand, it can be very lonely, you spend a lot of time sitting at a desk by yourself inventing imaginary things. But then, every once in a while, if you’re very fortunate, you can go out in the world and meet some of the people who have enjoyed your work and that’s priceless. You know, I write my books because I want to share these stories with people and so, knowing that people have enjoyed them and will enjoy them is really wonderful.

A: Thank you! I have a last question, and this one is for my brother, who is obsessed – let’s say that he started reading your books when he was like 7. He had trouble learning to read and your books really helped him to start reading because he loved dinosaurs and dragons are the logical next step. He told me “You have to ask him if there are more books because I want more books in this series”.

CP: There are going to be more collections of short stories in the world of Eragon and several full-size novels, including the main one, which I have been calling online, I’ve been calling it ‘Book 5’. So, yes! Lots more that he can expect to read before too long and, of course, my science fiction novel should be coming out before too long.

A: Thank you for this interview!

Check out Paolini's new book The Fork, the Witch and the Worm!

A wanderer and a cursed child. Spells and magic. And dragons, of course.
Welcome back to the world of Alagaësia. It’s been a year since Eragon departed Alagaësia in search of the perfect home to train a new generation of Dragon Riders. Now he is struggling with an endless sea of tasks: constructing a vast dragonhold, wrangling with suppliers, guarding dragon eggs, and dealing with belligerent Urgals and haughty elves. Then a vision from the Eldunarí, unexpected visitors, and an exciting Urgal legend offer a much-needed distraction and a new perspective. This volume features three original stories set in Alagaësia, interspersed with scenes from Eragon’s own unfolding adventure. Included is an excerpt from the memoir of the unforgettable witch and fortune-teller Angela the herbalist . . . penned by Angela Paolini, the inspiration for the character, herself! Relish the incomparable imagination of Christopher Paolini in this thrilling new collection of stories based in the world of the Inheritance Cycle.

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