“Making Of” The Inheritance Almanac – Part 2

It’s been pretty hard to miss all of the exciting coverage regarding the recently-published Inheritance Almanac here on Shurtugal.com. Originally announced in July of 2010, The Inheritance Almanac is the ultimate and official fan companion guide to the Inheritance cycle. Long-time Shur’tugal readers were shocked and excited to learn that we had been keeping the book a secret for well over two years before finally announcing the project and have since been inquiring as to how all of this came to be. We’d love to tell that story.

This two part behind-the-scenes look at the creation of The Inheritance Almanac, starting with the founding of Shur’tugal and walking through the many inceptions of the book, will hopefully give fans a glimpse into the creation of one of the world’s largest fantasy-oriented fan sites and the process behind creating a 200+ page companion guide. Cycle fans looking to become authors themselves will also enjoy the story and perhaps find inspiration, ideas, and advice for their own personal journey. With part one already released, it’s now time to share the second and final installment of our “Making Of” series!

If you haven’t already, we highly recommend reading part one of the “Making Of” The Inheritance Almanac before reading the second part. Part one tells the story of Shur’tugal’s creation and interesting history, as well as introducing readers to the original companion guide – the one that didn’t (and never will!) make it to stores.

View a free sneak peek of The Inheritance Almanac here on Shurtugal.com!

Interestingly, the tale of my initial failure with a companion guide is slightly more exciting than the success that lead to the release of the Almanac as you see it now. I wasn’t deterred by the “mess

One of the many manuscripts for the Almanac.

One of the many manuscripts for the Almanac.

” I realized my first draft of the original companion guide to be; in fact, I was perhaps more inspired than ever to write a book that people would actually purchase. Having those notes and early drafts staring at me from a folder on my desktop while I began work on “Companion Guide 2.0” was key to my inspiration.

I have been fortunate enough to work closely with the Paolinis and the amazing folks at Random House over the past six years on various projects, mostly surrounding the Inheritance cycle. As I mentioned in part one, their success was one of the major driving forces behind Shur’tugal’s initial and long-term success. I was also fortunate enough to work closely with Simon Lipskar, the Paolini family’s literary agent (and a genuinely brilliant and amusing individual).

The spark that ignited the serious attitude toward the guide was an offer I received from a small publisher based in California before I had actually given serious thought to actually publishing a book. To me, the companion guide was never anything more than something I would self-publish or release digitally through Shur’tugal. However, a book offer forced me to begin pondering the prospect of actually publishing a book (in the real sense of the word), and also made me realize that I’d be in over my head when it came to dealing with any sort of book offers or contracts.

When I first mentioned the idea of an official guide to my friends at Camp Inheritance, I was met with positive encouragement… but could not ignore the fact that I brought it up at a very confusing time. Eldest and the Eragon movie had both just released and the folks at Camp Inheritance were more than overwhelmed with preparations for Brisingr. Vroengard Academy was in full swing, Random House was working full-force on the marketing and promotion leading up to the release of the third book, and the Paolinis were working hard to complete editing of Brisingr. Interest existed around a possible companion guide, but any further thought had to wait until people were actually getting sleep. I always admired their drive and was more than happy to sideline the book (especially considering how busy we were with Shur’tugal).

It was during this time that Simon (the Paolini’s agent, as mentioned above) had agreed to represent me in my dealings with publishers regarding the companion guide. I was ecstatic to have Simon’s help, not only because he had been so incredibly helpful and generous over the years with Shur’tugal and all things Inheritance, but because I knew he was the right person to have on my side as we tried to find the right home for the book.

Over the next several months, Simon kept in touch with Random House regarding the companion guide, but Brisingr was still in full swing. Shortly after the Brisingr crunch, which included the brilliant Vroengard Academy viral marketing campaign, the release of Brisingr, and Christopher’s North American post-release tour, I was informed that Random House was officially interested in publishing a fan companion guide to the Inheritance cycle. This awesome news sparked the series of official publisher dealings that I’ll never understand (that’s what your agent is for), and in the end, Random House was the official home for the companion guide. They were the perfect fit; Random House had always been so positive about Shur’tugal; so friendly toward a sixteen-year-old fan site webmaster; and then, so positive about the prospect of a fan guide that they were willing to give it a shot!

My first (and very worn/beat up) copy of Eragon.

My first (and very worn/beat up) copy of Eragon.

Initial brainstorming meetings started shortly after the Brisingr book tour was complete. Mark Vaz, author of many official movie and book companion guides, including Mythic Vision: The Making of the Eragon Movie (and many others), was brought on board as the seasoned project manager/editor/contributor/magic worker. Mark, Michelle Frey (Christopher’s editor at Random House), and I spent several phone meetings discussing how the book would work, what it would contain, and a timeline for when everything would be due. The book’s contents were solidified and the beginnings of a work timeline were established.

Writing began in phases:

  1. First draft of the book’s outline. What will it contain?
  2. Outline finalized, work started on an alphabetized list of people, places, and things. (This part was extraordinarily difficult due to the sheer amount of people, places, and things in the Inheritance cycle. The final list of items ended up at around forty pages along… and that was all just names!)
  3. Initial notes were made for each person, place, and thing that would be entered into the guide. (This is where the dozens of hours spent on the original companion guide became handy. I had already spent hours pouring through Eragon and Eldest, highlighting, post-it-noting, and bookmarking. I used these notes as the basis for much of the information used in this draft of the outline.)
  4. Notes were elaborated upon. (I used this time to go from rough notes to full sentences, bulletted and not ordered properly, for each entry in the book. This would allow me to easily filter through the facts that needed to be elaborated upon/researched further/cut entirely while entering the final writing phase.)
  5. Actual writing begins. This meant pulling the bulletted sentences together in a smooth, readable, properly-ordered format for each individual entry. (This process was done in sections. I had divided many parts of the books into sections. An example: all of the Carvahall villagers were put into their own section. I completed sections one at a time rather than completing entries alphabetically. I found this more manageable due to the fact that each grouping usually focused on the same sections of the book, meaning I would be jumping around the books less to complete each section. This also allowed me to stay consistent with my notetaking, which was done by section rather than alphabetically.)
  6. Editing and finalizing the content began. (This is where Mark’s abilities truly shined. He was able to take the companion guide and ensure that it was published as a brilliant guide for fans. The work he put into finalizing the book sent the book above and beyond. He is a genius.)
  7. Once the final book was out of my hands, it was off to Random House for final editing, copyediting, formatting, art-adding, and finally printing. It was also during this phase that I wrote the introduction to the book (readable at the front of the book or in our sneak peek).
  8. The book releases! (You know this part!)

Honestly, this book would not be on shelves if not for the inspiration, help, and hours of work put in by many of my friends and colleagues.

  • My immediate family was pivotal in keeping me happy and motivated, and without them, I doubt the book would have made it. I also can’t forget to thank my grandparents with an appreciative chuckle. Although they didn’t fully understand my website, they would ask about the website and the book’s progress every time I would visit them down in Cape Cod. My grandfather passed away this Spring before he was able to see a final copy of the book, but his constant interest, advice (“Always wear a suit to a business meeting, even if it’s informal!”), and kindness shines through. My grandmother was one of the first few to see a printed copy.
  • The Paolini family. Christopher and his family have been supportive of the fandom since day one. Their friendship, help, guidance, and permission throughout this entire process made the book possible and has inspired me to stick with the cycle for the past six years (and many more to come).
  • Simon Lipskar, my agent, for his endless amounts of help, and for pushing me when I needed it the most.
  • Everyone at Random House, including Michelle Frey (Christopher’s brilliant editor), Michele, Nancy Hinkel, Judith Haut, and the entire publicity department for their unwavering support and patience with me, Shur’tugal and the Almanac.
  • Mark Vaz, for taking the book and making it brilliant and being completely honest/upfront throughout the entire process (even when I didn’t make it easy).
  • My friends! They kept me laughing, helped me research, and constantly distracted me (“Come play a video game!”) in a way that only the best of friends can. There are far too many to name, but every one of them knows who they are and how thankful I am.
  • You guys, the visitors of Shur’tugal. Many of you have stuck with us since day one, and those of you just joining us over the past while matter too! Shur’tugal exists for the fans and without your support, we would not be here, I would not have a book on shelves, and the Inheritance fandom wouldn’t be nearly as awesome as it is. Please keep rocking!
Note-taking throughout Eragon.

Note-taking throughout Eragon.

I’m sure there are parts of the story that I’ve forgotten, people who were unintentionally left out of my thank you who I still appreciate as much as everyone else, and questions that remain. If you are curious about any part of the process of writing the Almanac, or have any questions on advice I may be able to offer you for your own journey to publication, please do not hesitate to ask in the comments!

And of course, if you haven’t already checked out The Inheritance Almanac, we highly recommend you do so. This book was written for the fans and by a fan as a companion guide to take with you on your first or final trip through Alagaesia. The information, research, and random facts found within are ones you won’t find anywhere else. You can find copies of the Almanac in all book stores or by visiting your favorite book retailer online. Thank you for your support!

  • Kirkman

    i hope book 4 is as good as eragon and eldest it would really suck if i was as bad as brisinger

  • Ga_Salomao

    do you know if will be a translation for the almanac?
    thankss

  • InheritanceFan

    Hi,
    I’m just writing this to say thanks for taking your time (which seems to be a lot) to write this book! I’m in the process of reading it and it has helped me remember events and characters etc. that I had forgotten. You did a fantastic job, thanks again! 🙂

  • Soccer_star_123_06

    Hi,
    I’m just writing this to say thanks for taking your time (which seems to be a lot) to write this book! I’m in the process of reading it and it has helped me remember events and characters etc. that I had forgotten. You did a fantastic job, thanks again! 🙂

  • loki53124176

    Today I purchased and read the almanac and it was a great pleasure to read this book; I loved all the interesting facts and Book 4 allusions.

  • Anon

    I haven’t been able to locate the Almanic, but I’d like to. However, I have a question that has been posed before but never completely answered: How much time (as in years) passes between the beginning of Eragon and the end of Brisingr? I know Eragon spans at least a year, and CP said that the time between the middle of Eldest and Brisingr is under nine months, but I’d still like to get at least an approximate answer. Does the Almanic answer the question?

  • palin147

    not related to this but the riders swords were nearly unbreakable what would happen if two riders were fighting together with their swords would it be possible they could break one sword against the other

  • Guest

    Very nice work Mike, the book looks great and I’m planning on picking it up. Don’t worry about your worn out copy of Eragon, mine is actually taped together now! I refuse to get a new one because I love the hardcover books.

    • I retired the pictured copy of Eragon a few years ago. I didn’t want to destroy it any further and continuing to use it would have. Now it sits on my book shelf with my collection of Inheritance books as “the book I started Shur’tugal from”. 🙂

  • ThePerfectionist

    To Mike: Well done and congratulations! Your hard work all these years have paid off and its quite an inspiration that a mere fan wrote the book. A side note though, PLEASE do not announce news before you know it is coming out soon. Like you announced Book 4 QA news 3 weeks ago and yet nothing. Please do not give us hope and keep us waiting.

    • Actually, I didn’t announce anything. I said it was coming soon. I then specified that “soon” could mean days or weeks. I even told people not to get their hopes up because the schedule of these Q&As are based on the schedules of multiple people, all who are VERY busy doing other things.

  • AFSPS

    I know this is not topic related, but I didn’t know where to ask. Is lytherus already up? Because I went there and couldn’t read the articles, but maybe it’s my computer.

    Ps: Sorry for my english

  • sarah

    its ok, its not as bad as brisinger thou.. i really hope book 4 is as good as eragon and eldest 🙂 brisinger was a real disapointment to read and was really boring unlike eragon and eldest

    • mike

      How can you say Brisingr was boring? Eragon tied up a couple loose ends, saved katrina, fought murtagh, helped appoint the new dwarf king, learned of the eldunari, forged his own sword, helped kill another shade, and FINALLY ….he is now emotionally mature enough to know that he must kill Galbatorix and he is ready to do so. He has been so afraid of that moment but now he knows his weakness and there is where he will strike at the tyrant.

  • Tim

    the almanac sucks ball sack

    • Tim

      waist of money 🙁

  • Anonymous

    An Almanac is great and all, but what we really want is more actual information on book 4. I really do not mean to be rude, but I think few will want to buy the Almanac.

    But, thanks for outlining how you wrote it, it will help people get an idea of what to do when they want to make a wiki on a book or a novel.

  • HB

    just one quick question, is the almanac available in England?

    • The book released on November 4th in England. 🙂

  • Anonymous

    i know we’ve been getting alot of infomation in the past couple of weeks about the almanac etc but im still wondering are we going to get an october Q&A???? even though october is over? or is it just going to be one mega Q&A some time in the near future?

    • I’ve said this a few times now (and by a few I mean many): the Q&As are no longer “monthly”. They happen when Christopher and I both have the time to do them, and they happen in accordance with other events. Yes, these will continue happening and we have an announcement coming up regarding the latest Q&A.

  • book 4?

    book four please… the almanac sounds great and all don’t get me wrong I can’t wait to read it but…. book four would be nice too…

    • agreed

      I’m with you on that one

  • Jdedman1

    an almanac! … great… I was hoping for book 4 but that didn’t happen… oh well… I’ll have to get that almanac now…

  • Yeah, bought the book, half the stuff in there I didn’t even know. Really well written too.

    I’m re-reading Eragon so I decided to pick it up, and then I stumbled upon Selena. Yeah, in my draft of Eragon her name is spelt Silena. But in Brisingr it is spelt Selena. Hmm, Paolini needs to fix that if he hasn’t.

    • Chances are very high that the typo in Eragon was already fixed. Yours is probably an early print. 😛

  • Karley

    I’ve just finished reading it, and you’ve done an excellent job. Out of curiosity, though –
    Are you going to write an updated version of the Almanac once Book 4 comes out?

  • ZachyD

    A bit off topic, but has anybody been keeping up on C.P.’s thread at Random Buzzers? One person said this…

    taranee36-
    Hello again, Christopher!

    I liked David Tennant as of right now, since he was the Doctor when I started watching, but Matt Smith isn’t that bad either. I haven’t really seen any of the other Doctors…

    So, which Doctor is your favorite?
    2. Sneaky…. all these “no comment” and “:-)” are making me more excited to read the Fourth Book! 🙂

    And then C.P. said…

    Nine, Ten, & Baker. Haven’t seen Eleven yet. Just a few days away now.

    Best,

    Christopher

    Is the part where he says “Just a few days away now,” referring to him seeing Eleven(whatever that is) or is it talking about when he will be done writing book four? Or do you guys not see how there is a connection there?

    • Christopher and his family are big Doctor Who fans. They wait for the seasons to come out on DVD before starting the season. The latest season of Doctor Who comes out on DVD in a few days and the Paolinis will start watching it once it’s out. He was referring to that event (watching the new season) as being “a few days away”, not Book 4’s completion. Soon though!

      I also want to mention that I am a major Doctor Who fan due to the Paolinis gifting the first season of the new series to me a few years ago. It is by far my favorite TV show. 🙂

      • Yea I love the Doctor Who series myself. I wasn’t surprised when I heard that CP & family liked Doctor Who. CP’s scientific take on magic is why I wasn’t that surprised.

        We used to do that with Stargate SG1 and then with Atlantis; back before I even knew about Doctor Who…

      • Gizmo

        I love doctor who. I am from england so i get to watch it as soon as it comes out. I am quite interested to find out what people from other countrys will think of the new doctor as the last series that was just on over here was his first apperance. personaly i prefer the tenth doctor.

  • guest

    I’ve read most of the almanac and I noticed how some things are listed that aren’t in book 1,2, or 3.

    • Nothing is made up. If it’s in the Almanac, it was in the books or taken from one of our many in-depth interviews with Christopher.

      • guest

        on page 22, Belatona, it says “To strengthen Belatona’s defenses, Galbatorix garrisoned armed forces within the city”.

        and on page 38, Cantos, it says “Galbatorix directed Murtagh to oversee its destruction”

        • Not really understanding what you’re referencing. Those are two different cities.

        • Jahooty

          Murtagh ran away after Galbatorix in the first book after Galby wanted him to destroy Cantos. This order made him see the madness within Galbatorix. Cantos is not made up. It is also only logical that Galbatorix stationed troops at Belatona after the Varden’s siege of Fienstar. As mike said none of the contents are made up.

  • Fleetfox

    Only read a quarter of the Almanac so far, but I already know it will be placed on my “prized bookshelf” next to the Inheritance cycle. Thanks for taking the time to create an awesome guide for us Mike.

  • So, how did you keep everything straight and make sure you had absolutely everything? And how come you published it after Brisingr? Isn’t there still more to come in book 4?

    • I’ve answered similar questions a few times (mostly in the previous “making of” thread). Here are those answers:

      “How can there be encyclopedias for our own world when our world is still evolving? They track everything up to this point and act as a guide for our future. The same is the case for The Inheritance Almanac. Perhaps it will be updated some day in the future. ”

      I can’t seem to find the other post I made but the gist of it is that this book is geared toward acting as a companion guide for fans looking to jump into the series for the first (or 100th) time. It’s a great reference tool as you read through the books and it’ll be an even better tool once you start Book 4. It’s been over 10 years since Eragon was first self published… it’s easy to forget facts!

      There’s still more to come in Book 4 and the Almanac will be a great guide for fans heading into all that. Maybe some day we’ll update it.

  • firemonkey

    Great job Mike!

  • Elfanastar

    ello im an aspiring author and just started working on writing a new science fiction book do u have any advice for me

    • Make a list of your favorite scifi authors, check out their websites/interviews they’ve given on advice for writers. There’s so much good material out there from the authors themselves and it’s really interesting to see where they started and how they advise you proceed.

      • Elfanastar

        thanks for the advice i love the inheritance almanac by the way

  • Gazalare

    I think I found two typos in the Almanac.

    On page 96 under Gray Folk in the soft-cover, there is a space between subsequent and history. The space is larger than all the others between words, so I’m assuming two spaces were put there.

    On page 200 under Varden, The, you accidentaly spelled Deynor as Deynon.

  • ines_13

    Hi! I’m a portuguese fan of The Inheritance Cycle and I would like to have the The Inheritance Almanac. Do you know if it will reach Portugal?

    • I’m not sure where/when the book will go (this is up to my publisher) but I will check with them first thing next week to see if there are plans to bring it any further than where it is now.

      • ines_13

        Thank you 🙂

  • IFCycleModPazuzu

    Chris said it was a possibility on IF, but I’ll ask you anyway, Mike. Will you make a revised version of the Almanac after Book IV?

    • I’d love to. It’s up to Random House, of course, but I’ve always envisioned a second (and semi-different) book as a follow-up to the Almanac. Time will tell! Writing a book is a lot of work!

  • Forest Singer

    Loving it… so interesting to know the history of an author making their book! Really great Mike, thanks for letting us in!

    Everytime I see a different news post on the website, I get really excited that it’s the interview with CP… even though I’m let down – I still enjoy reading everything else. Had a dream about the fourth book being realised last night… haha 🙂

    • Rootrot

      I had a dream that Book Four was realeased, and it was 1,400 pages. Wooooot!

    • I have nightmares about Book 4 being released! What am I going to do once Inheritance is over?!

      (I kid! I’ll be sad once it’s over but I’m excited to move on with Shur’tugal to cover all of Christopher’s future projects and I’m equally excited about some of the huge non-Inheritance projects we’re launching this year and next year.)

      • You’ll be bored with nothing left to do!!!!!!! DISASTERRRRRRR

  • After reading both these posts, it looks like project is really incredible; I’m so impressed. I haven’t bought it yet, but I think I might soon 🙂
    I have a quick question for you – did you draw on information found in just Eragon and Eldest, or did you include characters/places/things introduced in Brisingr as well?
    Again – great job! I love the website too (I’ve actually been visiting it ever since the release of Eldest, eager for information about book release info and interviews with Christopher Paolini)

    • The book includes Brisingr and everything we know from Book 4 (confirmed facts from released chapters, interviews with Christopher, etc).

  • Rafa22

    hey Mike, I`m from Brasil and i`ve been wondering if there`s going to be a portuguese version of the almanac. =)

  • orik is a tank

    im reading it now and its pretty good, nice work