Will you write another book set in Alagaësia?
I have every intention of returning to this world at some point and writing Book Five, which I have already outlined. After spending so long with the world and the characters of the Inheritance cycle, I can’t bring myself to walk away from them for the rest of my life. For more info, see this article.
What are you working on now?
Over the past ten years I’ve thought of a whole bunch of stories that I would like to write, stories in different genres and for different media. I’m currently working on a science fiction piece.
Will there be another Eragon film?
I’m still waiting to see what’s going to happen. You can be sure that I’ll let my fans know, if and when I have news!
Where can I get a signed book?
You can purchase personalized copies of my books from the bookstore below. Just call them up and let them know how you would like the books signed. I’ll come in to sign them, and then they will ship them to you:
Conley’s Books & Music
415 E. Lewis St.
Livingston, MT 59047
Will you visit my local bookstore or school?
I am currently focusing on writing new stories. You can, however, see me at these upcoming Events.
How can I contact you?
To write me a letter:
P.O. Box 343
Livingston, MT 59047
I love hearing from readers and try to answer every letter I receive. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Due to time constraints, I may not be able to answer all your questions, so include only your most important ones.
- I regret that I cannot read your manuscripts or offer personal advice on your writing projects.
- If possible, enclose a stamped, self-addressed, business-size envelope.
- Make sure your name and return address are written clearly on the letter. I can’t send you a reply if there’s no return address or one that’s illegible.
If you’d like to send me a message on social media, you can do so via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. As a general reminder, I do not visit or participate in comments or message boards on any fan site. If you see someone claiming to be me, it isn’t (unless officially confirmed in very rare circumstances, such as my participation in a Reddit AMA).
Will you read and critique my writing?
Many fans send me their writings, hoping that I can offer advice. Unfortunately, my busy schedule doesn’t permit me to read manuscripts and give them the attention they deserve. If you’re looking for a mentor, try to find a local writer, editor, or English teacher who can review and edit your work. If you can’t think of anyone, try asking your local librarian for a referral.
Please share some tips on how writers can improve their skills.
If you are serious about writing a novel, learn everything you can about the English language—structure and grammar. Like any craft, you must become familiar with your tools. Read widely and notice how other authors weave their plots and how they structure their sentences and dialogues. Write about what you love most, for then will your work ring true. And find a local mentor (an author, teacher, or journalist) who can edit your work and help you improve your skills, so your creative vision can shine. For more ideas see the Writers Corner.
What are your favorite books?
Some of my favorite books are:
Dune, by Frank Herbert
Magician: Apprentice, Magician: Master, and their sequels, by Raymond E. Feist
A Wizard of Earthsea and the first two sequels, by Ursula K. Le Guin
The Belgariad (now available in volumes one and two), the Mallorian (now available in volumes one and two), and the Elenium, by David Eddings
Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, by Tad Williams
The Gormenghast trilogy, by Mervyn Peake
The Worm Ouroboros, by E. R. Eddison
The Dragonriders of Pern series, by Anne McCaffery
The Pit Dragon Chronicles trilogy, by Jane Yolen
The Redwall series, by Brian Jacques
Fablehaven and sequels, by Brandon Mull
. . .and many, many more. Recently I’ve enjoyed Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman; The Peculiar, by Stefan Bachmann; and The Emerald Atlas and The Fire Chronicle, by John Stevens. For further reading suggestions, see A Few of My Favorite Writers, Book Recommendations, Favorite Young Adult Books, and Current Favorites.
What inspired you to write the Inheritance Cycle?
My decision to write Eragon began as a personal challenge. I was homeschooled in a rural part of Montana, was an avid reader, loved to tell stories, and enjoyed tackling big projects. When I graduated from high school, at fifteen, I needed something to do before going off to college. So I decided to write a story, one that I would enjoy reading.
One of the things that inspired me was an image—inspired by Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher, by Bruce Coville—of a dragon egg appearing before a young man deep within a dark pinewood forest. I knew nothing beyond that, only that I wanted to find out what happened next. So I asked three questions: what land would a dragon egg come from, who would find it, and—since dragon eggs can’t be common—who else would be looking for it? My quest to answer those questions led me to envision the story that became Eragon.
And that image was the key to a great well of ideas that had been burbling inside me, ideas gathered from research and from my imagination. I had read a huge amount of folklore while growing up, which ranged from the Brothers Grimm to Beowulf, Nordic sagas, and the Aeneid, along with contemporary fantasy and science fiction. In addition, I’d learned about weaponry, food, clothing, and customs from the Middle Ages, which is roughly the era I envision Eragon living in. Armed with that information, I daydreamed the scenes with my characters. Then I took pen to paper and tried to recreate those images with words.
As the manuscript developed, I drew additional inspiration from good literature, music that sends tingles up my spine, great movies, and nature—the soaring Beartooth Mountains that edge the valley where I live, and the Yellowstone River that rushes by my home. This natural beauty helped me envision my fantasy world; at times, I could almost see Saphira flying over the sharp, snowcapped mountain peaks that I see from my window.
How did you invent your characters?
I created my characters through several means. Sometimes I meet someone who inspires me. Sometimes I see a picture or a painting that does the same. And sometimes I just have a random thought that makes me want to write about a certain kind of person. I also create characters by asking questions, such as these: “So Eragon goes into this town. He must meet someone. Who would it be? What would they do? Have I written about a potter before? No. Why not a potter then? Man or woman? Single? Married?” And so on. Questions are a great way to build a world and a story.
I try to think about my characters as if they were real people. So whenever I put them in a certain situation (facing a mob of angry Urgals, for example), I ask myself how I or the people I know would act in that situation. Even if a character is a bit of an exaggeration, like Angela the Herbalist, I still make an effort to ground his or her actions in some form of observable reality.
What inspired Eragon’s character?
My concept for Eragon originated with me. Writing about yourself is probably one of the easiest things for a fifteen-year-old author to do. However, over the course of the first book, he does many things that I haven’t—such as ride a dragon, fight monsters, and use magic—and these experiences conspired to differentiate him from me. In some ways the character Eragon and I grew together, facing the greater world as public figures. But overall, we diverged. Eragon is now his own person, similar to me in some respects, but possessing a unique history, likes, dislikes, friends, and family. I find it interesting to delve inside his mind, but his mind is no longer my own.
What inspired Angela’s character?
Angela the herbalist was inspired by my sister, Angela. She knows the Latin names of all our local plants and actually had a humorous argument with her uncle about whether toads are really frogs. She is a wonderful and fascinating person, full of wit and wisdom, and a good sport about having a character named after her.
How did you think up the names and spells?
My names came from three sources. Some are word plays (Eragon is dragon with the first letter changed and Saphira is a variation of the word sapphire), some are from historical sources (Anglo-Saxon, Norse, Germanic, Russian, etc.), and the rest I invented according to the rules of my imaginary languages, such as the name of the elf Blödhgarm.
As for the spells, first I wrote out what I wanted to say in English, and then I translated it word by word into the ancient language. Sometimes I already had come up with the words I needed, and sometimes I had to invent them from scratch.
How did you invent the ancient language?
In regard to my languages, when I was writing the first draft of Eragon, I needed to invent a word that meant fire; it was supposed to come from an ancient language that is always used with magic. To begin my research, I flipped through a dictionary of word origins and eventually found an Old Norse word, brisingr, which meant fire. I loved it so much that I decided to base the rest of my language on Old Norse, so I went online and dug up dictionaries and guides to learn more. I invented words based on what I found, and then formed a system of grammar and a pronunciation guide to fit my world. Developing this was probably the most difficult part of writing the books. The dwarf and Urgal languages I created for Eragon were worked up completely from scratch. For more information see The Invented Languages of the Inheritance Cycle.
How do I pronounce _______?
My team and I put together a handy audio pronunciation guide!
Have you written any alternative endings to Inheritance, or did you know from the start where it would end?
I’ve always known where the cycle would end. In fact, if you go back and reread Eragon, you’ll see that the character of Eragon actually has a premonition/dream of the last scene of the series, when he’s recovering after having dragged Garrow to Carvahall. I did change the fates of a few of the main characters, but the last scenes have remained the same.
Explain your thoughts about the ending of Inheritance.
I wrote the ending that I felt was appropriate for the world and the characters. To do anything else would have fractured the internal logic of the series. If I had forced Eragon and Arya together, it would have fulfilled Eragon’s hopes but broken Arya’s character. What you have keep in mind is that even though Inheritance is the end of this series, it is not the end of the world of Alagaësia; Eragon and Arya’s story will continue. They are going to live for a very long time, and their relationship is far from over.
For more FAQ, check out our Q&A articles series.