Since the Spring of this year, I have met more authors that I knew in Exeter, NH then I have in all the rest of my life combined. These have been arranged by the Water Street Book store. The latest one was to meet John Flanagan the author of the Ranger’s Apprentice series.
I think it was about 6 years ago that I read The Ruins of Gorlan (The Ranger’s Apprentice, Book 1) to my son Christopher. It was a fun, quick read. Christopher and I were both captivated by the story of Will who is a 15 year boy trying to find his place in the world. Small for his age, orphan, with dreams of becoming a knight, he is disappointed when he is not selected for battle school, but his adventure really begins when he is selected as a Ranger’s Apprentice. The Rangers are mysterious people that are the protectors of the kingdom. No one really knows what they do, but they are feared and respected.
John Flanagan said that one of his inspirations for the Rangers were the tales of Texas Rangers. Considering I had lived in Texas all my life up until earlier this year, and that my father loves (did I say LOVES) Texas history, it really made us feel good to hear.
John told the story of a sheriff in a town that was having riots back in the Texas republic days. He sends off for help and is relieved to learn that the needed help will arrive at the 9AM train the next morning. He shows up at a train, the car opens up, and a Texas ranger with his horse trots out. The sheriff looks into the box car expecting to see a group of police/soldiers but he only finds it empty. He says to the Texas Ranger, “Did you bring anybody else?” The Ranger replies, “How many riots do you have?” (One riot, one Ranger).
There were a lot of questions about various characters and hypothetical story lines. Questions about the possibility of a Ranger movie (very, very likely… has been in the works for a long time, but nothing definite yet… the producers are trying to get the right amount of funding, but could be in the theaters as early as next Christmas or the one afterwards).
I asked a question about his process. He carries around a notebook in which he writes the ideas pop into his head about characters, plots, dialog, scenes. After a while story starts to materialize. He then works on creating a 4 page summary. One page with the introduction, two pages for the middle and one page for the end. Once he has this done, then he create a chapter by chapter outline (usually about 40 chapters). At this point production really gets into gear and he writes one chapter a day. In about 6-8 weeks he has the first draft of his book. He then sends this off to the editor and even after publishing millions of copies of books, he anxiously awaits the feedback. Then he gets it back with comments. Reworks a bit of it. And sends it back. “The keys,” he says, ” is to plan.”
After the Q&A was a book signing. We were there with the most books. I think we have all of the books except for two. I’ve read all the Ranger Apprentice books. Christopher has read these, the Lost Stories, and is now working through the Brother Band series.
John was really gracious and generous and signed all of our books. I told him the story of us recently moving from Texas and Christopher insisting that we bring these books along. And now we are even more glad we did.