Christopher Paolini: I grew up reading as much science fiction as fantasy. So for me, it was a very natural transition. My dad was and is a huge science fiction fan. My mom was a fantasy reader, so I kind of got both genres from them. And I just love the possibilities of science fiction, and I love how a lot of science fiction talks about the future of humanity, especially as we may be moving off this planet and exploring the rest of the universe. And I was also wanting a change from fantasy after working on The Inheritance Cycle for about 12 years, from 15 to 26/27. That’s a large chunk of one’s life to be put into one project. So yeah, science fiction felt like a very natural fit.
Which came first for you, did you already have an idea that you wanted to write in science-fiction? Or did you have the idea of a whole story in one book, then decide that science fiction would fit with that idea in mind?
I had the idea for the story first and the idea first came about in 2006, 2007. At the time, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a self contained story or series, but very early on, I decided that yes, it was going to be a one book story. That became increasingly important to me the longer I worked on The Inheritance Cycle, because I didn’t finish that series until the end of 2011, and then I was touring for it mid to late 2012. So when thinking about what I wanted to do next, was like, “Well, I’d rather write a self contained story and then move onto something new.” And also I wanted to get that experience for readers of not having to wait for years and years for the next volume. The ironic thing is that it actually didn’t really take me any less time to write To Sleep than if I had broken it up and just done two or three novels.
Were there any things that you maybe didn’t want to get rid of or cut to make the story fit into one tome that you had to get rid of? If so, how did you deal with that?
No, I told the story of what I wanted to tell. I actually had a unique experience with editing with this book where my editors at Tor, along with the other changes I was making, general revisions and copy edits… They actually had me add about 30,000 words of material to the book as I was revising, which I’ve never had that experience before. So no, everything I wanted to put in the story is in the story. It’s a book that is stuffed to the gills with stuff, and hopefully readers will enjoy all of that stuff. With that said, there is lots of material within the universe and within that setting that I want to write about and have plans for that isn’t in this book. But this book itself has what it needs to have.