Q&As with Christopher: Navigating Themes, Comparison, Plots, & More!

Winter sunset, navigating themes
Image courtesy LifeofPix.com

These Q&As are drawn from Christopher’s recent AMA on Reddit. We’re reposting them here for folks who haven’t seen them yet.


SupersuMC: Based on the description of the werecats’ shifting later on in Eldest, was the she-wolf Eragon encountered in Ellesméra “werewolf,” or is it a wolf or woman affected by the forest’s magic in such a way? If the former, how rare are they in comparison to humans (and werecats)? If the latter, which was it before the magic affected it?

The she-wolf is an elf who has modified her body to appear more lupine. So, different than the werecats.

ThornBigRedDragon: Oh, I love Thorn sooo much. Can you tell me some new facts about him? What was his first word?

Hmm. Not sure what his first word was, but I can tell you he loves lighting dandelion puffballs on fire and watching them burn.

owen_bower: Hey Christopher! I saw on your Twitter that you intend to write a fifth novel. Would it be about Eragon, Murtagh and Thorn, a new Rider, or maybe about Brom’s earlier life?

All I’ll say about Book Five is that many of the characters you’re familiar with will return, but you’ll also get to meet a bunch of new characters as well.

Cellar___Door: What did the Menoa tree take from Eragon??

Ah. That’s a good question. A very good question! I’d love to answer it! . . . But spoilers. 😀 Book Five will answer your question.

TheEdgeofShadow: Is it possible to guess as to who or what Angela is using the books? Has anybody gotten the answer right that you’ve seen?

Ha! No one has correctly guessed Angela’s true nature. Probably because I haven’t provided enough information to do so.


TheKilla88: I’m not sure if this has been made public or you’re ready to announce this at all, but can you estimate how long your next sci-fi novel will be?

Long. It’s longer than Eldest at the moment, although that’s subject to change as the edits/rewrites proceed.


mistborn: Hey, Christopher. Glad you stopped by! As a writer, one of my big concerns recently is repeating myself. I find similar themes (and character types) to what I’ve worked on before wiggling into my work, and it seems like every day I have to expunge a new one and force myself to look in a new direction.

Has this ever been a worry to you? How do you deal with it, and what (if anything) are you doing with your new book to take it in a different direction from previous works?

Brandon! Great to see you here! As for your question: It’s a constant problem for me! I always find repeated words/phrases/themes creeping into my work. Removing them is one of the major tasks during editing. Whenever I find myself defaulting to the “easy” solution in a description or a piece of dialogue, nine times out of ten, it’s an expression I’ve used waaay too many times. But I think every author has elements they return to again and again: private obsessions that lend their work a particular flavor. Otherwise, we’d all sound the same!

maelstrom197: One of the biggest problems I’ve found with my writing is that my plots are incredibly linear and boring – basically, if someone gave me the plot summary to a book and it was as simple as mine, I wouldn’t read it. So I guess my question is: where does your inspiration for your plots come from? Any writing exercises I could do to try and improve the depth and strength of my plots?

There’s nothing wrong with a linear plot. Not every story needs to be Memento. Quite the opposite. That said, you don’t want your book to be boring. The thing to remember is that variety is interesting. If you’re frustrated with the lack of excitement in your book, do something unexpected! Something completely off-the-wall, and see how things develop from there.

Counterexample: Mad Max: Fury Road. They drive from Point A to Point B, and then back again. And it’s riveting. Partly because of all the reversals and upheavals the characters experience along the way.

Hope that’s of some help!


Tomorrow_Maybe: How do you respond to comparisons between your work and the plot of Star Wars?

Of course I was inspired by Star Wars! And also Lord of the Rings, and Dune, and Eddings, Fiest, Tad Williams, Anne McCaffrey, Beowulf, etc. As with Lucas, I was drawn to the heroic monomyth, and I wanted to write my version of it, as a love letter to the genre.

(Does that mean Angela and Solembum are R2-D2 and C-3PO? And what about Elva? . . . Wait, I’m confused. :D)

Can’t get enough? Check out our Q&A archive and FAQ page. Still want more? Submit your questions and follow the latest on Christopher’s Twitter and Facebook page.

Immanuela Meijer

Immanuela is the Paolinis' webmaster, archivist, and all around "make-things-go" Renaissance woman.