A Story Of Homeschool Success: Christopher Paolini and Eragon.
by Barbara Frank
Reprinted with permission from Barbara Frank
Now that the first generation of homeschoolers is well-established in society, we’re hearing a lot about how well these young people are doing. They are running businesses, excelling in college and homeschooling their own children. One has even written a best-selling novel.
Christopher’s journey to fame began when he was fifteen. He finished high school and was accepted to a college but decided not to go right away. Instead, he set out to write a novel for his own entertainment.
Like so many homeschoolers, Christopher tackles projects by educating himself. He read several books on the craft of writing*, and then devised a plot for the “Inheritance Trilogy”, three books that would follow the adventures of Eragon, a teenage boy who is befriended by a dragon named Saphira. He spent a year writing Eragon, the first book in the trilogy, and another year editing it.
Christopher and his sister Angela developed three languages for the characters in the book, basing one on Old Norse and making up the other two. Christopher drew all the maps in the book, and illustrated the original cover.
When Christopher’s parents read the book, they were astounded. As owners of a small publishing company, their high opinion of the book was based on more than just parental pride. They published Eragon, and Christopher spent months promoting it all over the Northwest U.S. He even designed a program around it that encouraged school children to read, and spent over a year presenting that program in schools all over the western U.S., starting with his neighborhood’s high school.
The Paolinis had sold over 10,000 copies of the book before it was discovered by author Carl Hiassen, who showed it to his editor at the New York publishing company Alfred A. Knopf. Soon, Christopher was offered a mid-six-figure contract for the trilogy; not long after, Eragon was optioned for a movie.
Christopher’s story has been featured in many major magazines, including Time,Newsweek and People, and he has also appeared on the “Today Show.” Although his public appearances are intended to promote his book, he is also promoting homeschooling, because he is just one more example that proves that homeschooling works.
Note: if you have a budding writer in your family, these resources may be helpful:
*Books Christopher used to teach himself how to write a novel:
- The Writer’s Handbook (Writer, Inc.)
- Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting, by Robert McKee (Regan Books)
- Characters and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card (Writer’s Digest Books)
Read more about Christopher Paolini in the March 2004 issues of The Writer andWriter’s Digest, which are probably no longer on newsstands but are available at public libraries [And on the internet]. You can also access several interviews with Christopher by going to Teenreads.com.
An interesting commentary on how a member of the media described Christopher’s writing ability as occurring “despite his lack of formal schooling” can be found at Eragon: Do Try This at Home.
© 2004 Barbara Frank
Barbara Frank is the mother of four homeschooled-from-birth children ages 11-20, a freelance writer/editor, and the author of “Life Prep for Homeschooled Teenagers“. Visit her web site, The Imperfect Homeschooler.
Teen author wins readers book by book
By Yvonne Zipp | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
A lot of writers prefer to remain above the actual business of selling books. Christopher Paolini is not numbered among those. In fact, the young author has gone to great personal lengths to get his book into the hands of as many people as possible.
Boy child produced the most fantastic clay dragon. That’s it pictured. At the same time as doing a dragon project at school, we are reading Eragon, as a Monday and Friday home school activity around Dragons. He loves the book and talks, talks, talks about it. Somebody gave him a Dragon book for his birthday recently and Dragons are the order of the day.