ohn Flanagan grew up in Sydney, Australia hoping to be a writer. It wasn't until he wrote a highly uncomplimentary poem about a senior executive at the agency he worked, however, that his talent was revealed. It turned out one of the company directors agreed with John's assessment of the executive, and happily agreed to train John in copywriting.
After writing advertising copy for the next two decades, John teamed with an old friend to develop a television sitcom, Hey Dad!, which went on to air for eight years.
John began writing Ranger's Apprentice for his son, Michael, ten years ago, and is still hard at work on the series. He currently lives in the suburb of Manly, Australia, with his wife. In addition to their son, they have two grown daughters and four grandsons.
For more information visit: www.rangersapprentice.com
When did you start writing?
First memory is in Fifth Grade at Primary school. We used to have a day a week when we wrote what were then called "compositions". These days they'd be called essays or assignments I guess. Other people used to write things like "what I did during the holidays" or " A family gathering" or "A day at the fair". I used to write adventure stories. I have a clear memory of being annoyed with my teacher, Brother Kelly, because he made me change realistic dialogue into a grammatically correct structure. Example: the statement from a helicopter pilot "Okay, down we go!" had to be changed to "Yes. We will go down." Even then I knew people didn't speak that way.
Fortunately, my more recent experiences with editors have been much happier.
What made you decide to write this fantasy series?
Initially I started writing a series of weekly short stories to encourage my son Michael to read. Will was based on Michael so he did the sort of things Mike enjoyed: climbing, archery, throwing knives at trees. That sort of defined the period as mediaeval and I chose fantasy because I like reading fantasy and I didn't want to be constrained by real historical events. Those original short stories are incorporated in Book 1.
Which of Will's characteristics would you most like to have and why?
This is a trick question. If I say his courage and loyalty you'll think I'm a cowardly woos you can never depend on. So instead I'll say his head for heights. I get vertigo if I stand on a chair to change a lightbulb. I wish I could shoot (a bow) as well as he does but I'm way out of practice these days. I still have a longbow however.
Are any of your characters based on you or your family?
As I said, Will was based on my son Mike: small, agile, quick on his feet and fast thinking. And while I would never pretend to be Halt, a lot of the dialogue between Will and Halt is based on exchanges between Mike and me when he was a teenager.
Horace, by the way, was inspired by Mike's longtime best friend Jeremy.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Thanks for saying "some of". I hate being asked "who's your favorite author?" Let's see. The late Ed McBain. His dialogue was superlative. David Eddings because he was the first person I saw incorporate humor into his fantasy novels. And my longtime favorite C.S. Forester. I first read the Hornblower books when I was about 12. I still read them today. And I get something new out of them each time. Patrick O'Brian for his lilting dialogue and narrative. James Lee Burke for his incredibly evocative descriptions of the Delta area in Louisiana. And on and on and on.