How did Christopher Paolini, a homeschooler from Montana, become one of the world’s best-selling authors? The story of his remarkable career has appeared in The Writer magazine of May 2012 in the form of an interview and also in an illustrated article in Rolling Stone magazine of March 1, 2012 by freelancer Amanda Fortini. Indeed, if you type in his name in Google search, you’ll find that he has already become a world literary celebrity.
It appears that Christopher, now 28, who still lives with his parents, started writing his first fantasy novel at the age of 15. He got his inspiration from reading J.R.R. Tolkien, E.R. Eddison, and Anne McCaffrey. His family liked the story and decided to publish it themselves as a homeschool family business. It took them a year to prepare the book for publication. The book, Eragon, was published in 2001, when Christopher turned 18.
Living in Montana’s Paradise Valley, the family then spent the next year promoting the book, taking Christopher to libraries, bookstores, and schools around the Western states, building a fan base among young readers. To attract readers, Christopher wore a medieval costume consisting of a red swordsman shirt, black pantaloons, knee-high boots, a black pirate sash, and a black beret. He spent eight hours a day talking to every person who came in the store. Thus, the family was able to sell 10,000 copies of the book. But it was barely enough to pay the family’s bills.
But then something miraculous happened. A writer by the name of Carl Hiaasen was visiting Montana with his preteen son, Ryan. His wife had bought a copy of Eragon at a local supermarket and gave it to Ryan to read. Hiaasen recalls: “I remember driving around and not a peep coming from the backseat of the car, and Ryan just blazing through the book. Finally I said, ‘How do you like it?’ He looked up and said, ‘Dad, this is better than Harry Potter.’” Quite impressed, Hiaasen sent the book to his publisher in New York, Knopf, a division of Random House.
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Sam Blumenfeld (photo)