For a young man of 20, Christopher Paolini has lived a rather sheltered life. He has never been to school, never held a regular job and still lives in the old farmhouse along the banks of Montana’s Yellowstone River, where he grew up.
When he is not busy constructing a hobbit hut with an 8ft tunnel near the river, he spends much of his time happily lost in a fantasy world of his own creation – a place he calls Alagaesia, where dragons roam and battles rage among sword-wielding tribes.
This time last year, he was just another geeky teen with too much time on his hands. But now, thanks to Eragon, his 500-page rousing adventure story set in his imaginary world, young Christopher is suddenly rich.
His parents, former members of a survivalist cult, self-published the book. Then novelist Carl Hiaasen took his son fishing in Montana, discovered the book and touted it to his editors at Knopf.
His father greeted the news of Knopf’s interest with caution and decided to drive a hard bargain. He hired a powerful New York agent to do the deal. In the end, they secured a considerable advance from the publisher.
“We may live out in the middle of nowhere,” Kenneth says, with a sly grin, “but we didn’t fall off the turnip truck yesterday.”
The family has used the profits to buy a new computer and a plasma-screen TV.