In your previous interview with The Australian Literature Review, you announced that Ranger’s Apprentice book 11 is going be a collection of short stories spanning the entire time period of the Ranger’s Apprentice series. What is a major difference or two you have experienced writing a novel-length collection of short stories as opposed to writing a novel made up of chapters?
Not a great deal. I still planned each story as I plan my books. They have chapters like the books (they’re quite long short stories). I guess the major difference is… they’re shorter and simpler. There’s less need for subplots.
Do you read many short story collections, and what kinds of unique appeal can short story collections have that novels tend not to have in the same way?
No I don’t, so I’m not really qualified to answer this question.
You have written that you enjoy reading crime and adventure fiction. What do you think tends to make good crime and adventure fiction, or what do you enjoy most in crime and adventure fiction?
Adventure stories often have a single main character who works towards an ambitious goal and subsidiary characters who bring out various aspects of the main character’s personality. What do you think tends to make a good dynamic between a main character and subsidiary characters in an adventure story?
I’m not sure that I agree with the basic premise you’ve stated, so I’ll pass on this question.
Do you have any thoughts about other book series popular with Australian teen readers (such as Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series, Lauren Kate’s Fallen series, Michael Pryor’s Laws of Magic series, or the Harry Potter or Twilight series) you would like to share?
I stopped reading other fantasy stories when my books were first published. I didn’t want to take the risk that I might unintentionally borrow someone else’s idea. For the same reason, I don’t read stories that fans send me. So once more, I’m not in any position to answer this question.
What is a fiction book you have enjoyed reading recently, and what made it work so well for you as a reader?
The Art of Racing in the Rain. As a former dog owner, I thought the author had a wonderful grasp of dog behaviour and body language, and I liked the premise that when a dog dies, it returns as a human.
Is there any specific kind of fiction you would personally like to see more of from Australian authors, or maybe that you would like to see attempted by aspiring fiction writers among your fans?
Not really. People should write what they want to write, and what they enjoy writing.
They don’t need me to tell them what to write.
Perhaps you can clear up something Ranger’s Apprentice readers have been wondering. Will any of the Ranger’s Apprentice characters be part of your upcoming Brotherband series?
In the first three books, yes. Some of the Skandian characters are featured. In future books, I plan to import at least another character but at this stage, I can’t see myself bringing Halt or Will over to this series.
What else can you tell us about Brotherband?
I can’t remember what I told you last time. I’ve finished the major editing, with some terrific help from my Australian editor, Zoe Walton and my American editor, Michael Green. In fact, we’re all very happy with the end result. Both Michael and Zoe came up with suggestions that made the first book in the series much stronger and more focused. Michael did what I didn’t want to do. He analyzed the new book and compared it to Ruins of Gorlan, looking to see what strengths were in Ruins of Gorlan that weren’t currently in The Outcasts. I was afraid that if I did this, I’d end up with a carbon copy of th earlier book. But he was able to view it more dispassionately, and with a wider point of view as regards character and situation development. The result is a book which has all the structural strengths of Ruins of Gorlan, but is still significantly different. I guess the best indication for me is, I’m enjoying writing the new characters, and they become more and more real to me every day.
You can find more on John Flanagan and his Ranger’s Apprentice series at www.rangersapprentice.com.au.
The Australian Literature Review