A Run-in with Christopher Paolini
In late 2003, the biggest story in publishing was the runaway success of Christopher Paolini’s debut fantasy novel, Eragon. In fact, I feel my own book deal was made possible, at least in part, by Eragon’s enormous popularity. I say this because, in November of that year, my agent brought Eragon to my attention as a recently published book that was quite similar, in many ways, to my as-yet unpublished manuscript, The Crimson Sword. When I asked my agent if that was something I should be worried about, he said that, on the contrary, Eragon’s booming success right out of the gate could only help our prospects. Not more than a week or two later, I was reading Eragon while I flew to New York to meet my agent face-to-face and receive an offer from HarperCollins for my “Asahiel” trilogy.
So when I learned that Christopher, not yet 21 years old, would be attending Comic-Con in July 2004, I saw it as a chance to thank him in person for whatever influence his success may have had on my publisher’s decision. But when I first caught up to him, it was with so many people around that we really didn’t get a chance to talk. Later on, however, I was walking down one of the aisles when I heard someone call my name. To my surprise, it was Christopher, there behind a signing booth. He quickly came out from behind the booth to greet me in the aisle. Evidently, Terry Brooks (also in attendance that year) had told him about me, mentioning that I was a former student of the Maui Writers Conference, which Christopher had been invited to attend in little more than a month. Before I was able to speak two words in response, a team of security guards was in my face, ringing Christopher protectively. I just laughed, explaining to them that it was Christopher who had approached me, not the other way around. But his handlers were having none of it, and, with forced politeness, urged Christopher back behind his booth. Through no fault of Christopher’s, I was left there feeling like I had just made a threat on the President’s life or something. Yes, it all got ironed out, and yes, Christopher and I did get to continue chatting later on. But first-timers, be forewarned: Comic-Con takes its security seriously!