John Flanagan – Author Interview

The Ruins of Gorlan (Ranger's Apprentice S.)The Burning Bridge (Ranger's Apprentice S.)The Siege of Macindaw (Ranger's Apprentice S.)The Kings of Clonmel (Ranger's Apprentice S.)Halt's Peril (Ranger's Apprentice S.)Ranger's Apprentice 10Storm Peak: A Jesse Parker MysteryCaptain Hornblower R.N.:

Your Ranger’s Apprentice series starts off in a fictional medieval setting with the main character, Will, wanting to train to be a knight but getting rejected because he is too small. So he becomes apprentice to a Ranger, Halt. You have said you created the initial idea for the series to provide something your son would find interesting to read and to show him that not every hero had to be an Arnold Schwarzenegger type. What has been the key to sustaining this idea over a series of books?

I think it’s the fact that the characters solve problems by their wits and their skills. As the series progresses, the reputations of Will and Halt continue to grow. Yet they remain relatively small men. They don’t use muscle or overwhelming force to solve their problems. They use tactics and skill and innovative thinking.

You have said that CS Forester’s Hornblower novels are your favourite. What makes them work so well for you?

I love the characters – the lead character and the subsidiary characters. And I love the fact that Hornblower, although he is a hero, is plagued by self-doubt and is human. I was devastated when Forester killed off Hornblower’s long-time friend and admirer, Bush – yet I realised later that his death was necessary for Hornblower’s character to progress to its final stage.

Your fictionalised medieval setting ranges from (the fictional equivalents of) Ireland to northern Africa. Do you do research for each novel, or draw on your existing knowledge to create the fictionalised settings?

A bit of both. I’ve travelled a lot and I draw on that. But sometimes I want to refresh my memories. For example, before writing The Kings of Clonmel, my wife and I revisited Ireland. We’d been there on our honeymoon, spending some time in the town of Clonmel, where I had relatives.

From the feedback you have received from readers, what have been the aspects of the Ranger’s Apprentice series that people have most enjoyed?

The humour, the adventure, the characters, the pace. I’m often told, ‘I can see it like a movie in my mind.’ That’s a very satisfying thing to hear.

Do you read much Australian fiction and do you have some favourites?

No. I don’t. I’m about to read Deb Abela’s new book, Grimsdon, and I’ll be reading Simon Higgins’ latest in the Moonshadow series over Christmas. But generally, I read American crime and adventure fiction.

Do you have any strategies for getting from an initial concept to putting words down, or is it as simple as you just do it?

Just do it? Oh no. I wish it were that simple. I spend months planning a book. First I’ll toss the original idea around, making notes and thinking it through over a long period. Leaving it, going away, coming back to it, letting my subconscious work on it. (Forester was a great believer in the subconscious.) Then I’ll formalise it, writing a four-page outline. Then I’ll write a chapter by chapter outline – usually around 20 pages long – print it out and keep it by me as I write. I’ll add additional hand-written notes to that as I go. The end result is a maze of typescript, crossing out, squiggles, arrows, notes and extra ideas. I figure only I could really understand it.

What is the most important piece of advice you would like to give for new fiction writers?

Don’t give up. Keep writing. The more you write, the better you’ll get. Your speling will improove too.

Can you tell us anything about what’s coming up in the Ranger’s Apprentice series, or any other writing projects you might have coming up?

The eleventh book is half finished. It’s a series of long short stories that cover the entire span of the series to date. Many of them answer questions I’ve been asked by readers. For example: What did Gilan do when Halt and Horace went to Skandia to rescue Will? What happens when a Ranger horse gets too old to continue? What happened when Halt first found Will? How did Halt and Crowley meet?

There will be a 12th and final book but I’m not doing that for a while. In the meantime, I’m starting a new series about a half-Skandian, half-Araluan boy who designs a radical new type of ship. The series is called The Brotherband and I’ll be doing that next year.

By the way, when I wrote ‘your speling will improove too’ I was joking.


More on John Flanagan and his Ranger’s Apprentice series can be found at The Official Ranger’s Apprentice Facebook Fan Page can be found here.

The Ruins of Gorlan (Ranger's Apprentice S.)The Burning Bridge (Ranger's Apprentice S.)The Siege of Macindaw (Ranger's Apprentice S.)The Kings of Clonmel (Ranger's Apprentice S.)Halt's Peril (Ranger's Apprentice S.)Ranger's Apprentice 10Storm Peak: A Jesse Parker MysteryCaptain Hornblower R.N.:

The Australian Literature Review

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102 Responses to John Flanagan – Author Interview

  1. Pingback: A chat with Ben Chandler (Glenelg, Adelaide) | The Australian Literature Review

  2. Arya says:

    Nooioooooooooo! It can’t end! It just can’t! *sniffles* Ranger’s Apprentice is a story that never ends! And I don’t want it to end with him old and married! That isn’t Will! It should end with him dying a heroic death. And with that thought, I’ma go and work on my last book fic in which he dies.

    • kaitlin says:

      I’d much rather it him “old and married” than dying a herioc death. Will, Horace and Halt; none of them deserve that. They deserve to live a nice long, happy life.

    • kyle says:

      if he died in the book tug couldnt get hurt because he ripped his pants

      • MackNaughton says:

        What if he had a kid with alyss and another series started from the kids point of veiw??? Just thinking, that’s all.

  3. Pingback: Deborah Abela – Author Interview | The Australian Literature Review

  4. Ranger WiLL says:

    Wats book 11 about. Do Will n Alyss get married

  5. MaK says:

    *Dies* I agree with Arya (Yes, Arya, I see you >;<) He should die a terribly heroic death, rather than end up old and married. If he has KIDS….oh gosh…I think I'll crawl in a hole and….and….I don't know….that would be the worst….-_-

  6. lachie chau says:

    i think that a movie would be awesome

    • mini ninja says:

      noooooooo! they ALWAYS ruin it in the movies

      • Alex says:

        not always true. depends on producing company. 🙂

      • Tristan says:

        They ruin a lot of books with movies, like they did with the Percy Jackson movie. But I want a Ranger’s Apprentice movie.

      • Charlotte Utschig says:

        I think they should do a movie with John Flanagan overseeing the whole operation so that it will be perfect and accurate. They should also have open auditions so I can try out. 😉

  7. Sam says:

    I think that at the end of the 12th book Will will get his own apprentice to nicely round off the series, but I know that I am going to be wanting another book

  8. Elf Knight says:

    As much as I absolutely *hate* this fabulous (and one of my favorite) series ending, the new series that Saint Flanagan talks about – The Brotherhood – has caught my interest. I’m wondering what this new type of boat is now and if it has anything to do with a steam boat. I hope not though as I hate it when fantasy novels take a turn down that road. It sucks! And surprisingly, I am eagerly anticipating the 11th ‘in between’ novel that Flanagan speaks of with all those short stories. While I don’t like short stories usually, these ones sound interesting and a good read. Something fun and light is nice for a change almost. Almost! Oh, well. All I can do is wait and see until it comes out. Hopefully that will be soon…

  9. King17 says:

    Im pretty sure the half araulen half skandian kid is the one who designed the ship with the triangular mast gundar talked about with halt in book 10

    • IzzyTheBookDragon says:

      You’ve read the 10th?! OMGosh!!!!!!!!!! I need to buy it. Anyway, I agree with Kaitlyn. He should have a good long life. Would you rather die a probably horrific but heroic death than be old and happy?! I’m sorry this series has to end:(
      …maybe he can incorporate Will or Halt into his new series??? Idk. 🙂 😀 🙂

      • brendan says:

        king17 is right I read Rangers apperntice with my libarin. Izzy is also right it has to end.Will should still have a apprentice and train him all the way throw.there should be at least 3 mayby 4 books left.also brotherband sounds like a good book.that 1 might get more books then Rangers Apprentice. is’t there going to be a 12 rangers apprentice if so keep me updated

      • cody says:

        ive read all twice

      • Alex says:

        Rangers #10 is one of my favorites. Favs anr Burning Bridge, Battle for Skandia and Nihon-Ja

    • Hal from Brotherband probably designed the ship that was fast enough to take Will’s group to Nihon-ja in time for them to save Horace’s life. I haven’t read the new series yet, but i already like this guy…

  10. Brady says:

    I have a really good idea for John. Ive been thinking about this for about 2 months now, and I really think John should make a second Rangers Apprentice series. I have planned out the plot already, and I think it should go somewhere along the lines of this: Will is in his mid to late 40’s, and after all his adventuring, he gets assigned an Apprentice. Horace is now the Battlemaster, and he trains people, but mainly hangs around Will alot. Will’s apprentice is cunning. Will would not choose an Apprentice that.. stinks.. He would of course choose someone who had some experience. Halt would be some old geezer that is CRAZY with his bow. You think he was good before, you should see him now! He is so good, he can hit the tip of a needle with his bow. John could of course tweak it into his likings with his geniusness. Please make this happen, it would make the millions of us thrilled. Thanks.

  11. rexman says:

    i like brady’s idea, totally cool plot.

  12. rexman says:

    it could have some new weapons though like a rough sort of bomb

    • brendan says:

      they alredy had a smoke bomb thanks to melcom,roll out cot they are progrsing more,to bad all this bow,saxe knife,strikers,and sneky nese is going to stop and no more rangers to bad

  13. Stone Emperor says:

    Yep, Brady’s got the right of it. I also agree with King17, I think it’s the trangular mast thingy… Pretty cool boat design. But i really think that John Flanagan should continue his RA series it’s awesome, or at least incorporate Will, Halt etc. into The Brotherhood. RA is too good to finish.

    One last thing- Will shouldn’t die a heroic death, or tragic. He shouldn’t die. It would end the series way better if he married Alyss, and then receive an apprentice of his own. Then John Flanagan should continue the story from the apprentice’s point of view.

    • brendan says:

      john should truly try to continue what he has going .he might lose everybody in the brotherband and tries to bring back RA but does not work

    • Cole says:

      I’ve read all the books and I really think that they should make another book 11 book is awesome but I feel bad that it is all over

  14. Chrome Heart says:

    I think Will marries Alyss and have an apprentice of his own. He settles in Norgate or MacIndaw while Alyss is away half the time due to her journey continuing as courier. Evanlyn marries Horace, or Or’ss san and probably Duncan will die by end of first chapter of book 12. Then Evanlyn become Queen and Horace, Prince consort. Then it should transit to new Ranger’s Apprentice Series 2. He shouldn’t die heroic or tragic because he’s too strong or good to die. Even Halt survived after receiving poisons from a Genovesan. But he wouldn’t be good teacher because like the case at Book 8 in Clommel, he had teaching difficulties.
    What do you think?

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  16. Jason says:

    Instead of a new apprentice, Will should teach his own son.

  17. Stone Emperor says:

    Apprentice or son, the story must continue, it is awesome. There is no way the stories can end, they should continue!!! They’re the best series i’ve ever read.

  18. Akid says:

    I know that you won’t continue the series and you will never read this John, but sitting here at 2:20 in the morning after finshing book 10 I can’t help but to wonder. John, you have A LOT of people of all ages that love this series. So why don’t you keep writing books about will, and halt, and Horace, and all the different characters that you have made perfectly. Practically only one more book will be written by you, and it makes me very disheartened that the series that got me into reading books is going to finally come too a sickening stop. You have attained a great retinue of literary “brilliance” that can be turned into something magnificent. Please make more.
    Well guess I have got to get some sleep, don’t even know if this will even post.
    P.s. That last paragraph John. That was “you”. Like the way it was done and written.

    • Akid says:

      Oh yeah and so far the series was awesome but I think you got a little less realistic over time, well maybe I just got older. Guess I’m not akid anymore either. And a ? For someone how do you contact/ send a letter to John. I’ll probably just look it up sense it’ll take 3 days to get a reply.

      • auslit says:

        Hi. As far as I am aware John has no publicly available email address.
        As you’ll no doubt understand, there are lots of fans who would like to contact John and he can’t possibly find the time to read letters from everyone who wants to send one, even if he didn’t have writing to do and a family to spend time with.
        There is an official Ranger’s Apprentice Facebook page but I’m not sure how much on there John reads personally.
        Sorry to be not very helpful but even The Australian Literature Review has to go through the Random House publicity department to contact him.

  19. ahruak says:

    I totally agree that he should keep writing more books this series will never get old. And Will and Alyss should have an amazing wedding in the 12th i think

  20. fan Ranger’s Apprentice says:

    How, end?How?

  21. gaby says:

    WELL i think that Will SHOULD NOT DIE (even if its heroic) & that he should marry Alyss because then they’d be a really cute proposal because she didn’t say yes to his first one ! This new book he’s talking about- The brotherband- i think the boy in that should be Alyss and Will’s son (ignoring the half skandian bit) so that the Rangers Apprentice series would kind of continue ? xoox

  22. AllenY says:

    Will can’t die, Halt can’t die, nobody dies!

    The only thing bad about a book series is that it ends.

  23. biggest fan says:

    Please John I am 1 of your biggest fans. Do something millions of people want more. Don’t do Brotherband. Do Apprentice. Even if you read this it probably wont change your mind so I am writing a book series (in my spare time), the Druid’s Apprentice. If I get it published please read it and write me about something I should improve or that you think it’s the best. Email is

    your no 1 or 2 or something fan

  24. Pingback: John Flanagan – Author Interview | The Australian Literature Review

  25. Jess says:

    Ranger’s Apprentice is the best series I’ve read!
    I think Will should marry and have a son, or even a daughter. Horace should marry Evanlyn and maybe Will could become the new Ranger commandant.
    I’m up to book 9 and can’t wait to dive in. I get teased at school for reading the book. My friends think it’s stupid and steal it out of my desk and hide it. Why don’t they read it?
    I can’t wait till the 11 book. It will answer all these questions.
    The series can’t end on a 12th book. maybe a 20th but not a 12th!
    This BrotherBand series sounds so interesting too I’m glad he’s starting a new series linked to Ranger’s Apprentice. New characters and a new setting. Brilliant!!!

  26. Billy says:

    John listen to me im a kid 12 years of age and will is exactly like me well except age and if you end ill have nothing to look forward in life ill just go back to being a nobody with no friends and every one teasing me ill have nothing to look forward to when i get home please don’t ever stop 😦

  27. Stone Emperor says:

    Ranger’s Apprentice shouldn’t end ever! Not even after 20 books!! But unfortunately, it has to end somewhere…. I was a huge fan of Harry Potter till that stopped. Don’t stop writing Mr Flanagan, you’re the best!!!!!

  28. Nick says:

    in my opinion, will should not die. But then again, the series has to end at some point.

  29. Realist says:

    Like all you other guys im utterly shattered that the series is going to end and i would like nothing else but to see it go on and on for as long as John could write them….BUT…. as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end and we can’t expect John to go on writing Ranger’s Apprentice forever. Anyway im sure John will never read this but oh well thanks guys.
    Forever your fan

  30. brendan says:

    I reckon he should write more RA books till he cant write no more. They are amazing

  31. ranger finns says:

    No No No. No old will. No dead will. Just keep going please 🙂 John your amazing thanks for writing the series dont stop please. 🙂

  32. bas says:

    I love the RANGERS APPRENTICE books dont end them it would be good to see will and Alyss get married and possibly have children!! CHEERS

  33. Stone Emperor says:

    Last Book has come out. It is the end of the Ranger’s Apprentice, but now the Brotherband Begins.

  34. Ranger's apprentice fanatic says:

    I have found out that the 12th book is coming in the first month to first few month’s of 2012!

  35. Jackie says:

    No that book 11th

  36. Carina says:

    I can honestly say I’m your biggest fan. I’m not finished reading them but I lOve the way it all ties together. John Flanagan you even inspired me to write my own story it’s like Ranger’s Apprentice but Will’s a werewolf and Alice becomes the ranger. Even though I’m only 12 I still would love to become an amazing writer like you. If I had to choos out of all the books and authors of the books I honestly think yours is my favorite. I hope I can get the whole set of Ranger’s Apprentice. I was also so frightened in book 7 Eark’s Ransom and I thought Halt, Gilan, Horace and everyone else were going to die but then I realized they can’t die Ranger’s Apprentice wouldn’t be the same without them. Your my hero John Flanagan. I hope some day I will get to meet you. It’s been a pleasure to tell you all this. Thank you for being an awesome author. Have a great day.

  37. Carina says:

    You know what I think is that he should have twins with Aylss and have the girl twin become a ranger and the guy twin become the courier. Now that would be awesome John. That could be a great 2nd serius of Ranger’s Apprentice. In my book that John has inspired me to write is pretty odd but I think it would be a weird fantasy. But good thing that in my book King John (king John Flanagan) keeps everything in order! XD

  38. Carina says:

    I just had an idea for an amazing plot for Ranger’s Apprentice Pauline and Halt have a son even and that’s Will’s Apprentice. Im just thinking aloud here John. Will you please write a second series of Ranger’s Apprentice John? It would make us all so happy

  39. Ameriman says:

    Personally I think that John should keep the series going and it will soon turn into the next hunger games. Those books were my favorite and when I finished I found these books. I couldn’t stop and now it’s over. I’m hoping john will start a second series but make it from the view of Wills son. He should have a son but there should be new weapons and the ngs that only 4 people know about. Halt, Will, Horace, and Wills son. They should have grappling hooks too and some more special arrows. I don’t think Will should have an apprentice because it would be like a repeat. If it was a son then he could train him early to be a deadly ranger who is mostly unstoppable. Oh bit also have like Arulaun invaded by the genovesans and the ranger’s corps destroyed. It’s those 4 duties to bring back the peace of Arulaun. Make them learn new ways of moving silently like running through trees while jumping from branch to branch. Just a few ideas I hope could go to use. It would also make the best movie.

  40. Billy says:

    Mr Flanagan u still hvnt finished or published the 11 book yet?! Think of ur fans out there who r crying ovr the end of the series. Mr flanagan u just havnt created a best selling book series uve created uhave created a phenomenon that has readers all over the world captivated. U have given something to kids every where. Now u won’t read this but I’m putting it out there beacuase I no that eventually ur fans will agree and u’ll have no choice but to continue so I’m gonna wrap this up by saying well done wi the RA series and long live will and the whole lot if them but wit out u that won’t be possible. Ur fan Billy

  41. Stone Emperor says:

    Brotherband is out guys, written by John Flanagan too. It’sjust as good as the RA series. Book one and two are out, and book 3 will be in november 2012

  42. will rocks says:

    John Flanagan dont make will’s apprentice a girl. It would ruin the series. Give him a boy. I am not being prejudice, but u should save that for another series or even better make the girl gilan’s apprentice and that would be awesome

  43. will rocks says:

    wouldn’t it be awesome if will from the ranger’s apprentice series meets brotherband chronicles

  44. Noah Mackinnon says:

    this is how i want the 12th book to go will in his mid 40s gets a female apprentice who over time falls in love with will and alyss’s son who is named halt jr. who is named after will’s mentor who dies of a relative of morgarath seeking revenge Will, his apprentice, and gilan, and horace, go on a mission against the kings orders to get revenge. on the mission horace dies and wills apprentices saves the day. Will’s son who is also a ranger in training mentored by gilan leads the other rangers and the army of Arleun against an army of kalkara and wargals and evil knights just outside of redmount castle. horaces funeral is held at the end of the book the epiloge features the wedding between Halt jr. and will apprentice

  45. cody says:

    guys ur fantasizing

  46. cody says:

    i wish the series would continue too

  47. Flynn says:

    Brotherband and Rangers Apprentice books are the best books I have ever read. I read the books over and over again. John you are one of the best authors ever!

  48. Horace says:

    The series will have to finish at one time guys. But it would still be good for them to continue. John Flanagan you are a genius

  49. Horace says:

    You are the best author ever in the history of the world. No one can beat you. Brotherband is going to be sick!

  50. Horace says:


  51. Apprentice Ranger says:

    No, it can’t end! They SHOULD have a second series of RA, right. Maybe if we all keep posting, he will finally see how desperate his fans are! I know that RA has become my LIFE! I even went out and bought a longbow after I started reading the series! Now, who’s with me?

  52. Chrstjan says:

    I first found out about “The Rangers apprentice” about 2 months ago. I have now read them all! I just couldn’t stop reading. It was with great sadness I read the 11th book, cus’ that seemed to be it, the end. But after reading this article I find myself smiling again! Is it really true that it will be, at least 1 more book?! Perhaps I should try reading “Brotherband” as well (since it will take a long time for the next RA book to reach Sweden), but RA is without doubt the best series I have ever read! I truly hope that there will be many more books and I’m looking forward to it.

  53. Halt says:

    This is Halt. And i am telling you not to halt the story! Keep GOING! Don’t HALT THE RA! KEEP GOING! DON’T HALT THE RA! KEEP GOING! OR I WILL SHOOT WILL WITH MY AMAZING LONGBOW SKILLS

  54. Stone Emperor says:

    lol 😛

  55. Kitty says:

    John Flanagan, I know you may not ever read this, but i am absolutely your biggest fan. I read the entire series (1-11) in two weeks. I have my own silver oak leaf necklace, cloak, bow, and i practice my “ranger skills” at the park all the time. I don’t think that this AMAZING series should end at book 12. I believe that will needs to get a female apprentice, because not only would that be an amazing addition, but it would continue the series and show so much originality on will’s part, because instead of being and ordinary ranger and choosing a male apprentice like everyone else, he can see the potential in her, even though she is a woman. if he just gets a male apprentice, it will contradict the uniqueness you created in him in all of the previous books. after his apprentice graduates, she should either get her own fief, and you can continue the series from there, or she can join Will’s, Halt’s, and Horace’s “task group” and go on adventures with them. PLEASE don’t end the series now. you can go so far with it and it is seriously my favorite series in the entire universe!! thank you for writing these fantastic books.

  56. derek says:

    I love the rangers apperentice serise I jest finished it today at school it was awsome I want to go wills weding also horace weding with princes casandra.
    I would to meet horace,will,halt,and all the other careters.
    My favorite of them all was the 10th one.
    Ilove flanagans,johns work so much I sent fan mail.
    Iwould be honored to meet him some day.
    They are the best serise ever.

  57. Rabbits apprentice says:

    I love the series. But honestly, if it keeps going it will ruin the series, brother and should be good. The series must end somewhere

  58. Rabbits apprentice says:

    Yeah…. Lol I do love the series though with all ma heart

  59. Sarah Ratmom says:

    I love these books and everyone I have recommended them to has enjoyed them as well. When I put the first Ranger’s Apprentice book into the hands of reluctant readers (especially guys, who don’t want to read something with a girl and a sword on the cover), they race through the series and come to me asking for more. Until Brotherband, I had to look sad and say, “no, that’s it; let me try to find you something *similar* (even if there is no such thing). . But now you have Brotherband, too! BTW, Tug is an Icelandic pony, right? Have the books been translated into Icelandic yet? (Please say yes; I was telling everyone in Iceland when we visited that they *have* to read this series.) Thank you thank you thank you for giving me, my family and my readers this joy.

  60. Lizzy says:

    God of Will dies I demand the book to be rewritten! I love all of the characters and number twelve comes out in a few months! I’m so excited yet sad that the series will end. I cried when I finished all of The Lord of the rings books! I love rangers apprentice!!!

  61. Lizzy says:

    Plus I wanna find out who is Will’s female apprentice. And I hope he changes his mind and decides to make more books because the saddest thing in the world is finishing an amazing series!

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