Hope my last weeks delve into Outlaw series by Alan Janney gave at least someone a chance to check out these awesome books.
As much as the series inspires me, there's as inspiring person behind the series. Alan Janney is not only a teacher by trade. He’s also one by soul, teaching us to keep striving for our stories.
The Outlaw and Carmine series's are not his only books. He’s also the man behind kids book series Phantom of New York and among many others, the detective series Mackenzie August, by the pen name of Alan Lee.
If anything, the Man is incredibly productive. So time to give his words a go. Enjoy!
When did you first decide to become a writer/storyteller?
I wanted to be a writer ever since I picked up Lord of the Rings out of boredom in 9th grade, sitting in detention. I’ve been an avid reader since. I taught high school English for eight years and I wrote three books during that time. When I published them, they took off.
The first hint of ”Infected” came in the second book. The first one had a subtle built-up towards it with Chase's shoes splitting in half and clothes tearing, as he puts on the Outlaw's mask. Did you know in the beginning, that he and few others have an infection or were you open to other options?
There’s a really great story about Thomas Harris writing Red Dragon, the first Hannibal Lecter book. Hannibal goes on to become one of literature’s greatest villains, but Harris didn’t know that. He was writing the first Hannibal scene around midnight in his ‘writing shed’ in a field, and Hannibal smells what kind of cologne Will Graham is wearing from across and the room, and Thomas Harris didn’t know he could do that.
Hannibal scared him so much that Harris left the room and went for a walk and was afraid to come back. That happened a little bit with Chase and Tank—I didn’t know Chase was sick. And then I didn’t know Tank was. I didn’t even know why he wore white gloves! But I quickly realized, wow, they have this thing that will enhance their bodies so much it’ll kill them soon if they aren’t careful.
I wanted to write a story about a kid who solves mysteries. Chase Jackson was supposed to be a broke kid at a rich school who played quarterback, but he would solve crime to make money (you can see this a little in book one). However, when I started writing the story, he threw the football out of the stadium and he started getting sick with this disease. Very quickly the book became about something else, because Chase demanded it.
How long did it take to brew from idea to complete first book?
I began writing the Outlaw in September of 2013 and I finished it that December. That is FAST, but I was obsessed with it. I started writing Infected with the hopes of publishing them, but I had a chance encounter with Hugh Howey who told me I should try publishing them myself. So I did, in 2015, and Amazon loved them. Although I’ve written nearly twenty-five books now, the ending to Sanctuary is still one of my all-time favorites.
The Outlaw series progresses pretty naturally from a small and cute superhero story to almost Mad Max styled post-apocalypse dystopia. Was this planned or did the ideas come up as you wrote?
I knew the Outlaw series was going to be longer than four books and I knew that Katie would play a larger and large role, and I knew the series would end with them on a boat, sailing away into the horizon. But the story really took off into the ‘Mad Max’ style world, and I didn’t plan that.
The story begins in 2017. All the fantasy elements aside, it's terrifyingly current with racial riots and talks about civil war (that actually happens in the book series). How much did current events inspire the series?
Current events didn’t have much to do with the story. Donald Trump made a big deal out of building a wall in 2016…but I had already written a wall into my story by then. So don’t read too much politics into it.
Is the Outlaw-verse getting sequels/spin-offs?
As far as my future goes, I’m writing adult books now. Mysteries and thrillers under the name Alan Lee. I would LOVE to write more about the son of Chase and Katie. In fact I already have book one written in my mind. I already have a book written in my mind about another Infected kid living during the fallout of the Chemist. I want to write them…but I doubt I’ll ever have the time. I HOPE so. We’ll see.
What can Outlawyers expect from your newest series, Phantom of New York?
The Phantom of New York is a fun story for readers who aren’t old enough to read Outlaw yet. It’s three books long. I’d love to continue but I need a publisher for it.
What advice would you give to aspiring storytellers?
Here’s my advice to aspiring storytellers - read and write a lot. Your first 500k words won’t be very good, but you HAVE to write them anyway. You have to write and then realize it’s bad and write again, and then read yourself to sleep, and then write some more. And tinker and fix it and read more and write, and do that for months or years.
Jot down your ideas. Write down surprise endings and new words. Write down what your favorite things about your favorite books are. And then copy your favorite books but tinker with it, and then do it all again.
Stephen King says you need to write a million words (or about ten-fifteen books) before you’re good enough for people to finish your work. But I don’t think it’s a million, it’s more like 500,000 words. But that’s a LOT so get started!
It IS a lot. But just like eating the elephant, the best way is to do it one bite at a time, exactly what Alan has proven. Alan is definitely one storyteller I'm glad I found.
After some 25 books (and counting!) He definitely knows what he's talking about. But don't take my word for it. Check on it yourself!
Be sure to get the Outlaw and Carmine saga's here. Mackenzie August detective series you can better find with his Pen name Alan Lee.
And don't forget the most important thing, when reading: Enjoy! If you do, please share this interview In your social media.
If Alan's works are familiar to you, be sure to comment below: What was your favorite and what do you enjoy in his works?
Thanks for reading!