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Kids' Q&A

John Flanagan

Describe your latest project.
The latest book of mine to be released in the USA is book four in the Ranger's Apprentice series. Titled The Battle for Skandia in the US (Oakleaf Bearers in other countries), this volume brings to a close the first story sequence in the life of Will, the Ranger's Apprentice. It resolves most of the problems and relationships that have been established in the three preceding books and shows the direction in which Will's ensuing life (and ensuing books in the series) will be taken.

Introduce one other author/illustrator you think people should read, and suggest a good book by him/her.
C. S. Forester, author of many novels dealing with navy life, including the Horatio Hornblower series of novels.

His book The Good Shepherd is set early in World War II, during the first few months of American involvement. It tells the story of one Atlantic convoy and is a superb character study of the American escort commander — a passed over captain whose subordinates (Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, and Polish Navy) are all considerably more experienced than he. Forester has a brilliant grasp of small detail — for example, the fact that after ten hours on the bridge of his destroyer hunting an elusive U-Boat, the captain's main source of discomfort is not the more obvious lack of sleep, tired eyes, or headache but sore feet, knees, and back. Only someone who has been forced to stand for hours on end on a hard iron deck would appreciate that fact. His use of such relatively trivial problems brings a sense of reality and humanity to the main character.

Describe your most memorable teacher.
Brother L. O'Connor, known to all the students, behind his back, as Luke. He was my sixth grade teacher and was responsible for helping me secure a scholarship to an expensive secondary school — and so continuing in school until senior graduation. He was a person who successfully hid a warm and generous nature beneath a grim, unsmiling exterior. He was my teacher over fifty years ago but recently, I realised that he's the model for one of the principal characters in my series, The Ranger's Apprentice. Without knowing it, I modelled the Ranger Halt on Brother O'Connor.

Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
"Mr Rat, I have a writ for your arrest. It is a rat writ, and it is writ for a rat."
— From True Grit by Charles Portis

What is your favorite literary first line?

A Shot! A Yell! Silence.

(From Tom, Dick and Harry. You can't read that opening and not continue.)

What was your favorite story as a child?
Peter Pan. It had everything: sword fights, flying, and an adult free life.

What is your idea of bliss?
Hitting a drive that goes straight and high and long and hearing the wonderful ringing sound my driver makes when it strikes the ball. I hasten to add that this bliss is rarely achieved.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A fighter pilot. My heroes, real and fictional, were pilots.

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John Flanagan grew up in Sydney, Australia, hoping to be a writer. After writing advertising copy for 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 Manly, Australia, with his wife. In addition to their son, they have two grown daughters and four grandsons.


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