author of The Ranger’s Apprentice series,
Ten Terrifying Questions
1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
I was born in Sydney, in Waverley. I grew up in Clovelly, a rather sleepy little seaside time warp sort of suburb. It was in the eastern suburbs but not in the affluent part. My father died when I was quite young – about 6 or 7. I went to St Charles Christian Brothers in Waverley and in secondary school I attended Waverley College. I did two years at university, part time. Hated it. Left and concentrated on working in advertising agencies. Much more fun, lots of pretty girls and really good parties.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
At twelve I wanted to be a fighter pilot. At eighteen, the pinnacle of my ambition was to become creative director in an advertising agency. By thirty, I wanted to become an author. Strangely, I never considered writing books for teenagers.
Why? I guess because I grew up at a time when it seemed that everyone who had participated in World War II had written their memoirs and read just about all of them – particularly those about pilots. I have always been fascinated by military aircraft. Still am. At eighteen, well, I was working in an advertising agency and creative director seemed like the best possible job to me. (When I achieved it, I found it wasn’t).
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
You’re kidding, right? Who can remember back that far? I have no idea. I guess it might have been that the USA, Australia and Great Britain could never be on the wrong side of an armed conflict. We were the good guys and could do no wrong.
4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?
I can’t think of any. Isn’t that terrible? I certainly can’t single any out. As far as books go, it was more an accumulative effect.
5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?
I didn’t know there were ‘innumerable artistic avenues’ open to me. I wrote a novel because I like reading them.
6. Please tell us about your latest novel…
The hero was called Simon Bond ( a conglomeration of the names of James Bond and Simon Templar). In those days, the Bond series were not as well known as now, so I thought I’d get away with it. The characters were paper thin. The plot wasn’t bad and I modestly claim to have been one of the first to recognise the potential of lasers as offensive weapons. Laser technology was in its infancy and I read about them in a magazine (Time, I think). I thought they would make the basis for a really cool weapon of destruction. It was several years before they started to crop up in movies and thrillers in that role. I was just ahead of my time, as usual.
Oh, sorry. That was my first novel. I misread the question. The latest one is much, much better. It’s set in my version of Japan (Nihon-Ja) and it focuses on Horace more than the earlier books have. It resolves several long standing questions about the characters. The book is called The Emperor of Nihon-Ja.
A sense of satisfaction and wellbeing. A sense that they have been entertained.
8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?
CS Forester. In Horatio Hornblower, he created such a wonderful, complex, admirable (yet sometimes disappointing) character. Plus he believed in himself. He never gave up in the face of multiple rejections.
9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
To keep going. To keep entertaining.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Keep going. Plan your work before you start writing. Don’t give up if you’re rejected. You will be. But CS Forester and I have proved that it doesn’t have to be a permanent condition.
John, thank you for playing.
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Filed under: Adventure, Australian Author, Author Interview, Book Trailer, Children's Fiction, Young Adult Tagged: | John Flanagan, Mr Midshipman Hornblower - Volume 1 of the Horatio Hornblower Series, THE EMPEROR OF NIHON-JA, The Ranger's Apprentice