Friday, October 03, 2008

Local Writing Phenom Breaks Book Sales Record

By Mark A. York
Enterprise Staff Writer

Local author, 24-year-old Christopher Paolini, made publishing history this week, selling 550,000 copies of "Brisingr," book three of his inheritance cycle series, the greatest one-day sale ever recorded by a Random House's Children's Books division title, in hardcover or paperback.

"I think the series appeals to younger readers because it's a coming of age story," Paolini said, Friday on the telephone from Miami, where he is on a book tour. "It reminds them of things they are going through in their own lives.

"I didn't write it for young readers only. Adult readers enjoy reading hero stories, and that's what this is."

Paolini has come a long way.

He began writing his first novel at age 15. Paolini and family self-published "Eragon," using a print-on-demand printing company for the printing. They heavily promoted the book in Montana.

According to his official Web site and a New York Times story, in 2002 author and Miami Herald columnist Carl Hiaasen was visitingParadise Valley south of Livingston on a fishing trip where thePaolinis live. Hiaasen, a well-known fly-fisherman, whose stepson
read a copy of the self-published book while on vacation in Montana, brought "Eragon" to the attention of his publisher, Alfred A. Knopf Books For Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children's Books. Michelle Frey, executive editor at Knopf, contacted Christopher
and his family to ask if they might be interested in having Knopf publish Eragon.

The answer was yes, and after another round of editing, Knopf published Eragon in August 2003. A second novel, "Eldest" continued the story of a boy and dragon in 2005. A movie version of "Eragon" followed in 2006.

In book number three, "Brisingr," the protagonist, Eragon, a simple farm boy, and his dragon Saphira, attempt to rid the kingdom of Alagesia, which has geographic features akin to the Absaroka-Beartooth Mountains in Paolini's back yard, of tyranny from
the evil king.

Paolini draws on the works of fantasy and science fiction writers such as Bruce Colville, Frank Herbert, Anne McCaffrey, Jane Yolen and Ursula K. Le Guin as inspiration for his work.

"The whole series deals with the importance of family, "Paolini said, "making it in difficult circumstances over all, trying the best to survive in the world and be happy."
Paolini said he draws daily inspiration from the Beartooth Mountains of Paradise Valley.

"If I don't have a deadline, I work a bit in the morning, then take a walk, and work again in the afternoon," he said. "With an imminent deadline I'll work all the way until dinner. I'm not the fastest writer, so I have to be diligent, and write faster than I'd like. It's the only way I can produce a book of this length. I concentrate on telling the story and don't ponder each individual word.

"It's kind of funny ... some readers have told me they like those passages the best."

Paolini is scheduled to be at the Livingston-Park County Public Library,
for a book signing on Sunday Oct. 26.

"They've been good to me," he said. "It's an important part of the community."

Paolini will also appear in Bozeman Thursday, October 23, 2008, 7:00 p.m. A ticketed event, and at Borders, 2855 North 19th Avenue, and Saturday, November 22, 2008, 1:00 p.m. at Costco 2505 Catron StreetE. Valley Center Road @ 19th Street.

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