Interview with Christopher Paolini [ENG]

Editorial Roca has just published the Catalan and Spanish translation of "The fork, the witch and the worm", an anthology of short stories about the world of Alagaësia written by Christopher Paolini.  That’s right, the author of Eragon is back. 


But this is not the most amazing thing! Thanks to Editorial Roca, I had the pleasure of interviewing Paolini when he came to Barcelona during his tour around Europe.


And I... I really wanted to know what he had to explain, and this is what he told me.


Mixa: Hello Christopher! Welcome to my channel… thank you so much! 


Paolini: Thank you for having me, this is an absolute pleasure.



M.: I must say I’m really excited because I grew up both as a person and as a reader with your books, so as you can imagine, reading “The Fork, the Witch and the Worm” was an emotional rollercoaster for me… and I bet it’s been a bigger rollercoaster for you, huh?



P.: Very similar. Writing the book was a very nostalgic experience, and also very exciting at the same time.



M.: I must say that the first question that came to my mind when I heard of this book was… why did you choose such short titles for big books, but a long title for a short novel?


 P.: Ah! All of my titles are… with all of my books I’ve titled them in a way that I hoped would summarize the entire book. You know, the one theme, the one character that summarizes the whole book, and with this one, because it is a collection of short stories, it’s very hard to find one theme… 


There is one theme, but one specific phrase that encompasses it all. Also, my new, my other novel I’ve been working on is a science fiction novel and it has a very long title as well. So after Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr and Inheritance I’d thought it’d be nice to try longer titles. In English this is also a tribute to the first Narnia book which is “The lion, the witch and the wardrobe”… so all those factors combined. 


M.: Ok.


P.: And I didn’t wanted people to be confused and to think that this book was, you know, a large main entry into the Inheritance cycle. You know, if I had simply called it the name of a character or something, if I had called it Saphira, everyone would have expected 800 pages.



M.: Yeah, you’re right! Ok, I’ll give you that, you’re right. But I must say that the term that best defines what I felt when I finished reading this book is… Aaaaahhhh!!!




P.: Yes!


M.: Because, I mean, what’s next? I need to know more! So, yesterday, during yesterday’s presentation you told us that there’s a lot more coming soon… What can you tell us about that?




P.: Well, my goal with all of my books is to do two things at the same time: one is to satisfy the reader, so that they feel “yes, that was a wonderful story!” but also to leave them saying “More!”. Well, I can tell you that there are going to be more books of short stories, in English this is called “Volume I” so I want to have… In an ideal world I would publish a collection of these short stories every other year, so the next one would be 2020-2021, I also have a number of full sized novels planned in the world of Eragon… do you want to know a secret? 



M.: Of course! I won’t tell anyone! 


P.: And I realize that this is not a secret now that I’m saying this, but you’re the first person I’ve said this to in an interview… So the first section of the book, the first story -“The fork”- is the first chapter of a theoretical book entirely from Murtagh’s point of view. 



M.: That’s what I thought, because I said, there’s a lot going on that you’re not telling us… Wow! 



P.: And, of course, BOOK FIVE. BOOK FIVE is not part of the Inheritance cycle, but it’s a direct continuation of many of the themes and things that have been introduced and need to be resolved. All of these unanswered questions in Inheritance are the foundation for BOOK FIVE.


M.: And, as well, you told us about your science fiction book. .. which I think, when I first heard that you were going to write a science fiction book I was like “OMG that’s something completely different!” 


P.: But it’s not that different actually, because if you think about it science fiction and fantasy get put together in the book stores, and people who read fantasy often read science fiction, and vice versa. So fantasy is the fiction of the past in many ways. 


Science fiction is the fiction of the future, but both do something that I love, which is, both tend to have a sense of awe and wonder about the possibilities of nature, of characters, of life… And there’s a sense of adventure  to both of them that I enjoy, so my new book  is what we call a “space opera”, so it’s a big epic story  just like the “Inheritance cycle”… there are spaceships and aliens and lasers and explosions and tentacles… lots of tentacles.


 And I think… and I’m not saying this for marketing reasons, I really believe this: that if you enjoyed Eragon and the Inheritance Cycle you will very much enjoy this novel. It’s the same, I mean it’s not the same story, but it’s still me.


M.: Ok… And going back to “The Fork, that Witch and the Worm” your sister was your first reader and this time she even wrote one of the chapters of the book… how was it?


P.: I mean, it was a new experience for both of us. We’d always collaborated behind the scenes, but this is the first time Angela has actually written in Alagaësia, and this is also her first published piece of fiction in a novel form.


So I had to learn how to relax and allow someone else to work in my world, and of course for her it was a challenge, I think, to write in the voice of a character she didn’t create. 


So it was a learning experience for both of us, but Angela did a wonderful, wonderful job, and she’s really a good writer and I’m hoping people will see more of her fiction in the future.


M.: That’s what I wanted to ask you, because when she was asked about writing more set in the world of Eragon she said that conversations had occurred.


Yeah, there’s a good chance that with future short story collections she will contribute something, but probably not so much from the character of Angela but she’ll write with anew character and we’ll see how that goes. 


 And I think that it’ll be easier too, just because she can create a character entirely from scratch, and I’m curious to see what she does with that. Also, I should say that the science fiction book, one of the reasons it’s taken so long, is that we have created an entire science fiction universe, which includes the real world and all of history, and it’s a setting that both of us want to play in. 


And so Angela is been working on some stories set in the science fiction universe also, so hopefully we’ll see a lot more of stories from both of us!


M.: Ok, that’s great! And I wanted to ask you what kind of character you’d be if you lived in Alagaësia, but yesterday you already said that you’d like to have fun with the dwarves. And you got a very curious theory about fantasy and beards… 



P.: Ah! Yes. Well, I mean, the dwarves have more fun than the elves, I think. I mean, elves are beautiful to look at, but I think we can all agree that they are a little stuck-up.



Paolini at the book presentation in Barcelona
Paolini at the book presentation in Barcelona

M.: Yeah.



P.: But no, with fantasy I think if you write fantasy long enough you spontaneously grow a beard. I mean, Patrick Rothfuss, George R. R. Martin, myself… Brandon Sanderson has yet to grow a beard, but he’s told me that one point he grew a very large handlebar moustache…



M.: Ok!


P.: So we’ll see if that happens for him, but yes, and I presented this theory to other authors at conventions and they all agreed with me… including the women.


M.: Ok, wow… So another thing you were asked yesterday, was about the possibility of Eragon having a new adaptation to the big screen (or rather the first one really) and you made an interesting observation about Arya being a Disney princess… how is that?


P.: Well, Disney is buying 21st Century Fox, and they’re buying Fox because of the X-Men movies, you know, Marvel wants the X-Men back, but there’re also a lot of other Fox properties. Those include Eragon of course, but also the Alien movies, and many, many others. Ah, and the Star Wars movies, the first Star Wars movies, so it’s a big deal. 


So once Disney buys Fox, technically Arya will be a Disney princess. It might not be official yet, but technically yes. So, we’re hoping that Disney will want to do something with Eragon, whether that’s a TV show, or another film, or something. Because, I mean, I’m biased but I’ve always felt the story of this series is very cinematic, you know, there’s a lot of amazing cool visuals in it. 


In some ways it’s a very simple story also, you know, we all can understand it, it’s easy to understand but it’s also complicated in other ways, so there’s a potential there and I’m hoping that someday, maybe soon, they’ll want to make a remake. I mean, “Lemony Snicket” got a remake, “His Dark Materials” is getting a remake, Amazon has “The Lord of the Rings” so, you know, it’s time. 



M.: And these days you’re touring around Europe, I’m sure you must be exhausted…


P.: Coffee!


M.: There you go! What’s been the most amazing thing so far?


P.: Just seeing that the fans are still so enthusiastic about the books after so many years, I mean, my last book came out in 2011…



M.: That feels like a life ago…



P.: It really does! I mean, it’s seven years ago, and… well, I was touring here in 2012 so six years ago… and yet, as you saw yesterday at my event here in Barcelona, it was a full room, I mean, the event was full! And that amazes me. As I’ve been in the United States and here, I’ve got people coming up to me and telling me they’ve named their children after the characters…


M.: Wow! 


P.: Arya, Saphira, Roran... they’ve gotten tattoos based off of the series…


M.: I saw a very interesting tattoo... 


P.: I know the one!


M.: ...on your Instagram… Oh my gosh…


P.: Yes, this woman got a tattoo of my face that is about this big on her leg.



M.: Wow!


P.: I mean… that’s dedication.



M.: Yeah, that’s the word!



P.: That’s dedication… to be fair, she is a tattoo artist I believe, so it may be a bit professional for her, but still… it’s my face!



M.: So Christopher… I’m going to try to say “may good fortune rule over you”, let’s see if I manage to do it…



P.: In the Ancient Language



M.: Exactly.


P.: Perfect.


M.: "Atra esterní ono thelduin"


P.: Perfect! You have a slightly different dialect than I do, but your pronunciation is spot on.



M.: Thank you very much! 


P.: Oh, my pleasure thank you. 



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