Kvetha Fricäya. Greetings Friends.
Ever since I finished Eldest, I have felt like a person slowly emerging from a deep sleep. Eldest consumed so much of my time, energy, and concentration that it separated me from the rest of the world, even from my own family. I have had to unlearn my habit of sitting in front of my computer to the exclusion of all else and rediscover the simple joys of helping my family to clean up after dinner, reading books, hiking, and painting.
It is almost as if I had left this world and then returned, and in doing so, rediscovered how much I cherish my time here. Even the most menial task, such as scrubbing walls, now gives me pleasure. And in my spare time, I gaze at the mountains limned with hazy gold and conjure up Book III and what may come after it.
For the first time in over three years, I can relax.
Just before I left for BookExpo America (BEA), I received an advanced reading copy of Eldest. Advanced reading copies are always printed as soft covers, but, even so, that was my first opportunity to see the manuscript in book form. I have to admit, upon holding it, I thought, By the wind and the sun and by the blood in my veins . . . it’s big! I knew Eldest was larger than Eragon, but, until that moment, I never realized just how much a difference in pure heft those extra words make. Dreams do have substance after all, it seems.
My trip to New York for the BEA was an extraordinary experience. It’s impossible—in so short a missive as this—for me to mention everything that occurred, but I will attempt to address the highlights. First and foremost was again getting to meet many of the wonderful people at Random House responsible for editing, designing, promoting, and publishing the Inheritance Trilogy. They are the spellweavers who make this epic go, and I am forever in their debt. Chip Gibson, head of the Random House Children’s division was especially kind to me, and for that, I thank him.
As I mentioned in the previous newsletter, I got a chance to visit the Listening Library studios during the audio book recording of Eldest. Gerard Doyle was jovial as ever, but I fear that all the Dwarvish and Elvish I put in this novel made things a bit difficult for him this time around. Dwarvish can be a tongue twister for humans. It’s probably a good thing, then, that my editor, Michelle, persuaded me to cut several paragraphs of it, thus sparing Gerard additional and unnecessary headaches. At Listening Library, I also got to meet Taro Meyer, who directs Gerard’s performance. She’s an actress, singer, and altogether an extraordinary woman. It is a privilege to have her contribute to the recording of my works.
The BEA was like Comic-Con: large, loud, and full of people. Because of my obligations, I was unable to see more than a fraction of the booths that covered the massive display floor. However, I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Orson Scott Card and be introduced to Cornelia Funke, Ned Vizzini—a fellow young author—and Jon Scieszka, editor and complier of Guys Read, to which I contributed an essay. I also met R.L. Stine, Mary Pope Osborne, and many others. Acting on orders from my sister, Angela, I hunted down Stephanie Pearl-McPhee to get a copy of her book, At Knits End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much, signed and personalized for Angela, since she’s fascinated with making her own textile and fiber products. The influence of her interest can be seen in Eldest. . . .
At the BEA, I presented the Book Sense awards for Best Children’s’ Book of the Year and the Best Children’s’ Illustrated Book of the Year, which were Chasing Vermeer and Duck for President respectively. It was an honor to be chosen for this task, especially since I was unable to attend last year, when I was fortunate enough to be given the Best Book of the Year award for Eragon.
Another treat at the BEA was crossing paths with Carl Hiaasen again. Even more exciting than that, I got to speak with his stepson, Ryan. Those of you who are familiar with the story of Eragon’s publication will know that Ryan is the one responsible—through Carl—for bringing Eragon to Random House’s attention. Without him, millions of people around the world would never have been able to visit the world of Alagaësia. My family and I owe Ryan more than he will ever know; he irrevocably changed our lives for the better.
On the last day, I had breakfast with Jonah Cader, son of Michael Cader, who compiles and writes the online newsletter, Publishers’ Lunch. Jonah wrote a very nice review of Eragon back in 2003, and so it was a treat to finally meet him. He asked some of the most intelligent questions about the story of both Eragon and Eldest that I’ve ever heard.
Later, I lunched with Mike Macauley, lord, founder, and almighty ruler of the fansite, Shurtugal.com. It was the first opportunity we had had to just sit and talk. Mike has done an incredible amount for the Eragon community. Not only that, but he’s a darn nice person to boot, as is his father, who drove him to New York for the BEA. Thanks for coming, guys! And thanks for what you do, Mike.
At lunch, I also met with Robert Cox from Argetlam.com. He’s another dedicated young man who has helped to build and support the Eragon online world. Without readers like him, the Inheritance Trilogy would have never achieved the stature it has. Take a bow, Robert!
My favorite part of the trip, aside from the BEA, was touring the Museum of Natural History under the guidance of the marvelous Donna Sethi. Thank you so much! The museum was incredible. Seeing the innumerable treasures ensconced there only strengthened my sense of awe toward the natural world; I find it amazing the variety of wonders—proven wonders—that exist in this universe.
All in all, my time in New York was fun and rewarding.
It has been brought to my attention, that a number of people who read this newsletter have responded to it directly, e-mailing Random House various pieces of mail intended for me. I have not received any of those messages, as I don’t correspond online, though Random House conveyed the sentiment of many of your messages to me. If you wish to write to me directly and to get an answer, then send a letter to :
c/o Michelle Frey
Random House Children’s Books
1745 Broadway, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10019
It may take several months—but I will respond.
Now I must return to the garage and finish the painting that is the prize for the Eldest poetry contest. I’ll get my dad to take a picture of it and post it online once it is done. I have already chosen the winner of the contest, which Random House will be revealing shortly. The number of entries and the quality of the poems sent in were very impressive.
May your swords stay sharp,