- For the Alan Wake game, see: Alan Wake (Game)
- Stephen King once wrote that "Nightmares exist outside of logic, and there's little fun to be had in explanations; they're antithetical to the poetry of fear." In a horror story, the victim keeps asking "Why?" But there can be no explanation, and there shouldn't be one. The unanswered mystery is what stays with us the longest, and it's what we'll remember in the end. My name is Alan Wake. I'm a writer.
- ―Alan Wake, Episode 1: Nightmare
Alan Wake is a bestselling American novelist and the main protagonist of the Alan Wake series. After suffering from a two-year strain of writer's block, Alan was brought on vacation by his wife Alice to the idyllic Pacific Northwest town of Bright Falls. Events took a dark turn when Alice was kidnapped by an unseen force and Wake was forced to fight his way through possessed townsfolk all while experiencing the events of a story he didn't even remember writing.
Alan Wake never knew his father. As a child, he was deeply afraid of the dark, to the point that his mother eventually gave him an old light switch she called "the Clicker". She told Alan that the light switch had the power to banish the darkness, and that it was a gift from Alan's father. From that point on, Alan was no longer afraid of the dark and kept the Clicker in his possession.
Alan befriended Barry Wheeler at a young age, the two of them often getting into trouble. Alan was typically the one causing this, with Barry bailing them out. Their friendship would continue for years thereafter into their adult lives. In his teen years, Alan became a fan of Stephen King, who inspired him to become a writer when he grew up.
Alan's first short story, Errand Boy, was published in Dark Vision magazine in 1996, when Alan was only eighteen years old. As observed by Clay Steward in The Alan Wake Files, the short story contained many motifs which would become staples of Wake's writing, including absent or mysterious father figures, and a battle between darkness and light. The lighthouse that appeared in this story would also become significant to Wake in his later life.
Some time later, Barry helped Alan land a job as a writer for the cult television series Night Springs. Alan wrote several episodes for the show, and it kicked off his larger writing career. Alan's name became internationally known when he wrote the first installment in the Alex Casey crime thriller novel series in the year 2000. Alan wrote five more Alex Casey books in the following seven years, all of which were bestsellers. Barry became Alan's literary agent and helped to facilitate his success. Alan also became known for his cantankerous and at times violent personality, which on multiple occasions resulted in altercations with paparazzi. Alan also had a history of substance abuse, including heavy drinking.
At some point, Alan married a talented photographer named Alice, the two living in an apartment in New York City. After the publication of the last book in the Alex Casey series, The Sudden Stop, Alan was met with a sudden and immense strain of writer's block, unable to write a word for years. Worrying for her husband, Alice read a book on troubled artists, The Creator's Dilemma, written by a therapist named Dr. Emil Hartman. Wanting to help Alan recover from his writer's block, Alice took him on vacation to the idyllic town of Bright Falls, Washington, secretly hoping to have him write while there and also meet for Dr. Hartman for therapy.
Events of Alan Wake
While on his way to Bright Falls, Alan had a vivid nightmare of fighting against shadowy, possessed individuals and an ethereal figure teaching him how to fight them by using light to burn away the shadows on their bodies. Upon arriving at Bright Falls, Alan and Alice visited the Oh Deer Diner to receive keys to their cabin from Carl Stucky. Alan was given the keys by a strange old woman, who directed Alan and Alice to Bird Leg Cabin on Cauldron Lake. That night, Alice revealed to Alan the intent of the trip by presenting him with a typewriter, and Alan, angered over this, stormed off. Moments later, Alice was kidnapped by an unseen force and dragged into the waters of the lake. Alan dove in after her, and blacked out, waking up a week later in a crashed car miles from the lake, with no recollection of how he'd arrived there, or what had happened to Alice after she had disappeared into the lake.
Working his way back through the woods, Alan encountered monstrous possessed humans (including Stucky) called the Taken resembling the ones from his dreams, and fought them with light. Alan also found pages of a manuscript of his own writing entitled Departure, which he had no recollection of writing. In the manuscript, events were described which Alan discovered were coming true all around him. Alan eventually worked his way to a gas station and contacted Sheriff Sarah Breaker, telling her about his wife's disappearance and the cabin on Cauldron Lake. Sarah insisted that the cabin had been destroyed decades prior in an earthquake, and took Alan to the lake to prove it, Alan shocked to see the cabin gone. Alan was taken to the police station, where he was subsequently contacted by a man named Mott who claimed to have kidnapped Alice. Mott told Alan to meet him at Lover's Peak in Elderwood National Park to negotiate Alice's return.
Now accompanied by Barry, who had arrived at Bright Falls to find Alan, Alan headed to the park and worked his way through the Taken to find Mott. Mott demanded that Alan give him the entire manuscript of Departure for Alice, and escaped, with Alan returning to Barry to rescue him from the Taken. The next morning, Barry was contacted by Rose Marigold, a waitress at the diner and fan of Wake's, who claimed to have found Alan's manuscript. Alan and Barry arrived at Rose's trailer park, all while Barry explained to Alan the local history; the cabin on Cauldron Lake was owned by Thomas Zane, a poet, who lost his lover Barbara Jagger when she mysteriously drowned in the lake. A week later, the volcanic earthquakes of Cauldron Lake sank the island, taking Zane with it. According to Barry, all of this information had been written by Cynthia Weaver, a local recluse, with her articles being the only existing record of Thomas Zane's existence.
Alan and Barry met with Rose, only to find her under the influence of the dark force. Rose knocked out Alan and Barry, who awoke hours later to find the police arriving at the trailer park. Alan was confronted by FBI Agent Robert Nightingale, an unstable and drunk individual willing to kill Alan without mercy. Alan escaped as the Taken began to attack and kill the police officers, and made his way to Mirror Peak, where the kidnapper had said he'd be waiting for Alan. However, as Alan arrived, he found Mott despairing at the mercy of the dark force, which appeared before him in the form of the old woman from the diner. Mott revealed that he never really had Alice and that he'd made up kidnapping her in order to get Wake to cooperate with his boss's wishes. At that point, Alan and Mott were hurled off of the edge of a cliff into the waters of Cauldron Lake, with Alan losing consciousness just as an unseen figure pulled him from the lake.
Alan awoke in the Cauldron Lake Lodge under the care of Dr. Hartman, who claimed that Alan had suffered a psychotic breakdown as a result of Alice drowning in Cauldron Lake. Alan did not believe Hartman, but cooperated in order to prevent an incident. While staying at the lodge, Alan met Odin and Tor Anderson, former rock musicians who had past experience with the supernatural events in Bright Falls. The Andersons instructed Alan to travel to their farm, where they had hidden a clue to stopping the darkness. The lodge was then attacked by the Taken, giving Alan a chance to escape with Barry. Along the way, Alan discovered that Hartman was the one behind Mott's deception, having used audio recordings of his discussions with Alice to fool Alan into thinking he'd kidnapped him. Hartman's intent was to take advantage of the power in Alan's writings, as he had been attempting to do with the other artists under his care for years.
Alan and Barry arrived at the Anderson Farm, discovering a record of their song "The Poet and the Muse," which seemed to indicate that Cynthia Weaver was the key to stopping the darkness. That night, Alan, under the influence of the Anderson's moonshine which had been infused with water from Cauldron Lake, experienced a vision of what happened during the missing week. Alice had been kidnapped by a supernatural force known as the Dark Presence, which enticed Alan to write Departure in order to bring her back. Cauldron Lake possessed the power to turn works of art into reality, and by writing Departure, Alan was facilitating the Dark Presence's emergence into reality. The Dark Presence had done this once before with Zane in order to bring back Barbara Jagger; however, the end result only saw Jagger return as a demonic shadow of her former self, controlled by the Presence. Zane had written himself out of existence to erase what he had done, taking the Dark Presence back beneath with him.
Having realized the Dark Presence's deception, Alan had changed the story of Departure, writing himself in as the protagonist and having Zane arrive at the cabin to help Alan escape. In the present day, Alan, upon awakening, was arrested by Robert Nightingale and brought to the Bright Falls Sheriff Station. That night, the Dark Presence once again attacked, taking Nightingale and forcing Alan, Barry, and Sarah Breaker to free. The trio headed to the Bright Falls Dam to seek out Cynthia Weaver, who revealed to Alan that Zane had given her the key to the Dark Presence's defeat. Alan found that this was none other than the Clicker, which Zane had written into the story to give Alan a fighting chance. Determining that he alone had to stop the Dark Presence and save Alice, Alan left Barry and Sarah behind and headed for Cauldron Lake.
Alan arrived at Cauldron Lake and dove into its waters, finding himself in a surreal alternate dimension known as the Dark Place. Unlike Alan's world, the Dark Place was subjective and conceptual, making it subject to manipulation by works of art, which then manifested in reality. Alan navigated the Dark Place with the aid of Zane, in the process encountering a mysterious doppelganger of himself referred to as "Mr. Scratch". Reaching the submerged cabin, Alan encountered Jagger, and destroyed her using the Clicker. Realizing that the story demanded balance, Alan began writing the ending of Departure, allowing Alice to escape from the Dark Place while trapping himself there indefinitely. Realizing the scope of the Dark Place and its reach far beyond his reality, Alan wrote the ending line to Departure: "It's not a lake... it's an ocean."
The Signal and The Writer
Still trapped in the Dark Place, Alan found himself pursued by Taken, seemingly controlled by an insane version of himself. Zane appeared before Alan and explained to him the Dark Place's dreamlike nature, stating that Alan had become split into two facets of his existence, with the insane Alan giving in to Alan's doubts and fears, and the rational Alan attempting to restore control. Alan worked his way through the shifting landscape of the Dark Place, evading the chaos brought into existence by the insane Alan, and eventually found his way back to Bird Leg Cabin. Regaining control of his other self, Alan began work on a sequel to Departure which would allow him to escape from the Dark Place. This novel was known as Return.
While Alan continued to write Return, the power of the Dark Place continued to act upon reality, eventually unleashing Alan's doppelganger, Mr. Scratch. Mr. Scratch's inception was catalyzed by rumors and conspiracies about Alan, viewing him as an insane, sadistic serial killer. Mr. Scratch personified this fictionalized Alan, and came to life in the real world seeking to take over Alan's life. Alan, in an attempt to stop him, used the concept of one of his old Night Springs episodes to write himself back into reality in the nonexistent town of Night Springs, Arizona, where Mr. Scratch had also appeared. Alan began work to actualize the manuscript he'd written in order to defeat Mr. Scratch, doing so by using the power of the Dark Place to make scenes from the town match those of Return and thus catalyze shifts in reality.
Alan eventually managed to make his way to a drive-in movie theater where the ending of Return existed. However, Alan discovered that this was in fact a trap, and that Mr. Scratch had created a time-loop which would prevent Alan from ever defeating him. Restarting from the beginning, Alan once again worked his way to the ending, piecing together more clues about the final scene of Return in order to make it more accurate. After a third and final loop, Alan was able to activate the ending, revealed to be a movie made about Alan by Alice as a tribute to their relationship. The film destroyed Mr. Scratch, and depicted Alan reuniting with Alice. However, these scenes are subject to interpretation, as Alan continues to be trapped in the Dark Place.
Alan Wake is a tired writer in search of a vacation, a place where he could forget everything. Whilst he was once much happier in his life and marriage, his rise to fame coupled with a developing writer's block has made him rather short tempered. At times he can still be caring and sympathetic, but this is rare as he becomes more frustrated with his life and work. Sadly, the continuous pursuit by fans and paparazzi have made him somewhat cynical to people, which is why he usually spends most of his time with his wife, Alice. Emil Hartman says that Alan's history of substance abuse combined with his insomnia makes him especially prone to anger.
He is also very strong-willed and brave, although at times blurs the lines between courage and stubbornness. This is in part fueled by his intense love for Alice, making him willing to take on the seemingly invincible the Dark Presence in the hope of saving her. Though it is unknown how he met Alice, it is quickly established that he cares for her deeply and often refers to her as his 'muse'. During the first Alan Wake DLC, The Signal, Alan has memories of Alice which seem to make him happy, most of which are sexual and intimate. Their marriage has recently become turbulent in some ways, due to Alan's insomnia and alcohol fueled behavioral issues, but overall the two love each other very deeply.
Alan also practices at a shooting range, and has a good knowledge of hunting rifles, shotguns and pistols. In the novel, it is explained that he spent time at the shooting range to get research done for his Alex Casey crime series. Sheriff Sarah Breaker comments that even though he is a good shot, he needs to get his knowledge of how guns function down. It should also be noted that he is a quick-thinker, using his knowledge to get past environmental puzzles and to evade numerous Taken at once. He can adapt to a wide array of weaponry quickly and with good result.
Remedy Entertainment has called Alan "kind of a dick". They note that, as before stated, he hates most people and has many problems with his marriage. But they say that this is good because it separates him from most golden-hearted characters and "space marine" G.I. Joes. This is intended to add a layer of realism and depth to him, making him a more relatable character with moral failings of his own as opposed to a larger-than-life hero with high moral standards.
Errand Boy was Alan's first published story, published in a magazine called Dark Visions. A transcript of Errand Boy was featured in Clay Steward's book, "The Alan Wake Files". Clay added it in his book to give some background to the very man he was attempting to know more about, and to provide insight into the motifs of Alan's writing.
Alex Casey was an action thriller series written by Alan. Casey was a hardened New York cop. Six books were made in the series:
- Book 1: Alex Casey
- Book 2: What I Can't Forget
- Book 3: Return to Sender
- Book 4: The Things That I Want
- Book 5: The Fall of Casey
- Book 6: The Sudden Stop
Alan ended the series by killing off the main character (in The Sudden Stop) as he wanted to move onto other things, and try out new ideas, but that soon ended when he began to suffer from writer's block. This is mentioned in the Signal DLC during a memory of a photo shoot of his advertising " The Sudden Stop" when Alice comments " You kill him (Alex Casey) off in this book, you need to look like a murderer". Alan, "The Sudden Stop" Sam Lake and Poets of the Fall appeared on The Harry Garrett Show; Alan was promoting his new book. In the "Bright Falls Book Store", The Sudden Stop is awarded "The Book of the Month".
Departure was supposed to be Alan's next book, but never got round to writing it due to his writers block. However, in the game, the manuscript Alan wrote (but cannot remember doing so) was also named Departure, which told of the events Alan went through during his time in Bright Falls, what he was going through and what he would go through. Alan completes Departure at the close of Alan Wake.
Return is the sequel to Departure. Like Departure, Alan wrote Return, where it inevitably came to life. He progressed through the events of the manuscript through Alan Wake's American Nightmare. Here he faced his arch-nemesis Mr. Scratch and attempted to get back to Alice.
- Alan Wake is voiced by Matthew Porretta and modeled by Ilkka Villi.
- Like other Remedy names, clues to the game may be found in the protagonist's name. In this case, Alan's first name initial coupled with his last name spells "A. Wake", symbolizing his battle with the night. Also, various times throughout the game, His wife, Alice, says, "Alan, wake up," alluding to his name.
- One of the books in the Alex Casey series that Alan wrote is titled The Things That I Want. This is the name of a level in the Remedy game series, Max Payne. Another is titled "The Fall of Alex Casey", just like the subtitle for Max Payne 2. On some of the TVs in that game, a 'return to sender marathon' of the fictional show 'Address Unknown' is played, giving another book title. Max muses that "when entertainment turns to a surreal reflection of your life, you're a lucky man if you can laugh at the joke". He refers to the coincidental parallels between fiction and his life as opposed to the rewriting of events that the manuscript pages of Alan Wake describe.
- The idea behind Wake ending the Alex Casey series by killing off the main character is most likely influenced by the Stephen King book Misery, where the main character Paul Sheldon, also a writer, ends his series of books by the same method and for the same reasons.
- Alan's signature weapon is the revolver.
- When introducing himself in Episode 1: Nightmare, he says "My name is Alan Wake, and I'm a writer". The exact same thing is said in Alan Wake's American Nightmare as the first line to the first page you see in the game.
- There are several avatar outfits of his clothes.