For as long as he can remember, Christopher Paolini has always loved to bury his nose in a good book. These days, however, the Montana teen has little time for reading. Instead, he is hard at work on his second novel, The Eldest—a project that demands a grueling schedule.

"It is my job, so I try to treat it like that," says the 19-year-old author. "I get up, grab breakfast, and go back upstairs in my room and write. I usually come down just before dinner."

If writing is a full-time job that leaves Christopher little room for outside activities, he isn't complaining.

"I love the ability to describe the world around me, to share the natural wonders I've seen with other people, to share adventures with young adults," he says. "I love the ability to work out my own questions about the world through my characters."

 
Ben Stephens (right), 11, and Wesley Johnson, 11, have their copies of Eragon signed by author Christopher Paolini in New York City recently. (Photo: Zan Carter)

 

For a lifelong daydreamer like Christopher, writing a fantasy novel was the perfect fit. His advice for other young aspiring authors? Follow your passion.

"Write about what you love or care about the most," he says. "It takes endurance to get through a book-length project."

It also takes lots of stamina to read a lengthy book. On the rare occasion he doesn't enjoy a book, Christopher admits he'll put it down rather than slog through it. But more often than not, he can't resist the written word. In his lifetime, Christopher figures he's read more than 10,000 books—from mysteries to classics to thrillers to non-fiction works. He counts C.S. Lewis's Narnia books, Brian Jacques's Redwall series, and Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina among his all-time favorites.

Reading a wide variety of books has made Christopher a better writer. But when it came to writing his own book, he opted to stick to what he knows best—fantasy.

"If you can't stop thinking about the story yourself, and it has all the elements you'd like to read yourself, it's probably a good idea."

Christopher should know. His love of dragons and monsters has propelled him from an unknown teenager into a best-selling novelist—all at the tender age of 19.

—Karen Fanning