The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe

The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe: Christopher Paolini

Welcome back to The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe, a recurring series here on Tor.com featuring some of our favorite science fiction and fantasy authors, artists, and others!

Today we’re joined by Christopher Paolini, author of the Inheritance Cycle of YA fantasy novels. Christopher was homeschooled by his parents and often wrote short stories and poems, made frequent trips to the library, and read widely. He was fifteen when he wrote the first draft of Eragon and his family self-published the book in 2001. In August 2003, Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers published Eragon and it was an instant success, reaching a worldwide audience. Christopher’s second novel Eldest was published in 2005, followed by Brisingr in 2008 and Inheritance in 2011. A collector’s edition celebrating the 10th anniversary of Eragon is available from Knopf on October 22nd.

Join us as we cover subjects ranging from Carl Sagan to Twilight fanfic, and more!

Please relate one fact about yourself that has never appeared anywhere else in print or on the Internet.

I once broke a toe on a doorknob while walking on my hands… In my twenties.

If you could be reincarnated as any historical figure, who would you like to be?

I wouldn’t want to be anyone else.

Eragon Collector's Edition Christopher PaoliniHere’s a two-parter: If you could go back in time and change one thing in the past, what would it be? And if you could time travel to the future, who or what would you most like to see?

I’d go back and give myself the manuscripts to the Inheritance Cycle, so that I could write them faster.

SPACE!!!! I want to see space! That and the real-world equivalent of the Star Trek holodeck.

Describe your favorite place to write?

On the sofa in my office. I’ve done most of my writing there over the past eight years.

If you could choose your own personal theme music to play every time you enter a room, what would you pick?

Depends on what mood I’m in. Bad mood, the Imperial March from Star Wars. Good mood, Klendathu Drop from Starship Troopers.

What’s your favorite method of procrastination?

Attempting to read the entire Internet.

Do you have a favorite unknown author?

Evangeline Walton.

Bad news: You’re about to be marooned alone on a desert island—name the five things you would bring along.

A knife, a saw, rope, fishing hooks, and a clear plastic sheet for water filtration.

Do you have a favorite phrase?

The most mellifluous phrase I’ve ever come across is, “Beer batter fish basket.” Just try saying it a few times. It’s beautiful.

Strangest thing you’ve learned while researching a book?

That no one really understands how the universe works. Not on a fundamental level.

If you could name a planet after anyone (other than yourself), who would you choose and why?

Carl Sagan, because he did so much to popularize science.

Name your favorite monster from fiction, film, TV, or any other pop culture source.

The alien from the Alien Quadrilogy.

If you had to choose one band or artist to provide the official soundtrack to your latest book, who would it be?

Basil Poledorous.

Would you rather discover the fountain of youth or proof of life on Mars?

The fountain of youth, because that would give me enough time to also find life on Mars or elsewhere.

What D&D character alignment best describes you first thing in the morning?

Chaotic evil.

Two roads diverge in a yellow wood: one leads toward a mysterious laboratory in which a mad scientist is currently ensconced. The other winds its way toward a tower inhabited by a powerful wizard. You could really use a snack, and it would be nice to have somewhere to crash for the night—which road do you choose?

The road to the wizard, because if magic really exists, it would be really, really important to be able to use it and defend yourself against it.

Choose your preferred fictional vacation spot: Narnia or Middle Earth (or some other fictional realm)…

Alagaësia. I want to go hang out with the dwarves and write opera for them.

What was your gateway to SF/Fantasy, as a child or young adult?

The Ruby Knight by David Eddings.

What would your Patronus/familiar be?

A dragon of course!

What’s the most embarrassing guilty pleasure you’ll admit to? (music, movies, pop culture, food, drink, etc…all fair game!)

Bacon wrapped dates stuffed with cream cheese or feta. The very definition of decadent.

Name your three favorite fictional villains of all time. Alternately: Heroes vs. Villains—which are more fun to write?

Villains are more fun to write, of course!

  • Richard the III (Richard the III)
  • Steerpike (Gormenghast)
  • Charles Logan (24)

What kind of apocalypse (zombie, robot, environmental, etc.) is most compatible with your survival skills? And what kind of apocalypse would you like to avoid at all costs?

I’d like to avoid a nanotech (i.e. grey goo) apocalypse at all costs, because it’s pretty much impossible to fight. That or an eruption at Yellowstone. As for the other kinds … I’m ready for all of them. Zombies? Robots? Bring them on, I say.

Cast the main characters of your new novel (in other words, choose your dream cast for a Hollywood adaptation of your book).

No comment.

If you were secretly going to write fanfic (or, even better, slashfic) about any two characters, who would they be?

Bella (from Twilight) gets dumped into the arena from Hunger Games along with Katniss. Spoiler: Katniss wins.

If you, as a ghost, could regularly haunt one celebrity, author, or literary figure, who would it be?

Mark Twain. I’d love to hear what he has to say about today’s politics.

List three things you’d like our readers to know about you and your work.

  1. It has dragons.
  2. I tried to make it more than just running around and hacking at things.
  3. There are always more stories to come.

If you could find one previously undiscovered book by a non-living author, who would it be? Why?

Mervyn Peake. He was cut off in life far, far too young.

Which language, real or fictional, would you like the ability to speak fluently? Who would you talk to?

I’d like to be able to speak Italian, since I have a bunch of family in Italy.

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