Rambling On

Anthony R. Cardno's Fiction and Commentary

This has been a long time in coming, this interview with my friend Win Scott Eckert. I’m not sure how long ago I first became familiar with Win’s work, but it’s been several years at the least. He plays in the playground I love, that giant sandbox where everything in popular culture, from gothic heroines to modern masked men, can interact … and he plays in it so well. His recent stories featuring the Green Hornet and The Avenger stand out, and of course he’s learned the art of finding character connections from one of the greatest such sleuths, Philip Jose Farmer, with whom Win co-wrote THE EVIL IN PEMBERLEY HOUSE.  Here’s our long chat, with lots of illustrations:

ANTHONY: Win, thanks for taking the time to be interviewed.

WSE:  Thank you, Anthony.

ANTHONY: You’re most well-known currently as the lead “banner-carrier,” so to speak, of Philip José Farmer’s Wold Newton Family concept. What was your first exposure to Farmer’s work and how has it influenced your own writing?

WSE:   My mind-blowing introduction to Farmer was his “pseudo-biography” Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life, at the tender age of eight. I recently had the pleasure of editing an updated and definitive edition of the book, which is a companion to his Tarzan Alive. Both books follow the Sherlockian tradition, known as “the Game,” of treating their subjects as real people who actually lived (or… still live!). In my new foreword to Doc Savage, I abandon my usual practice of penning forewords and afterwords within the context of the Game (see my pieces in the recent Farmer reissues by Titan Books), and step out from behind the curtain, so to speak. The piece is an unabashed love letter to the book and to Farmer. Which is a roundabout way of answering your question about how it has influenced my own writing. Without Doc Savage, there is no Win Scott Eckert, author–for better or worse.

The definitive, hardcover reissue of Doc Savage is available from Meteor House. It’s a true labor of love, and I hope folks will check it out.

the new, definitive edition of
Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life

the most recent edition of
Tarzan Alive


ANTHONY: You had the chance to collaborate with Farmer, completing The Evil in Pemberley House. I know you’ve written in other forums about how that project came to be. I’ve read the book and honestly can’t tell where Farmer ends and you begin, so I’d like to hear a little about the process of completing a novel started by someone else. What challenges did you face and how did you solve them?

WSE:   First of all, thank you for commenting that the transition from Farmer to me was seamless. I take that as the highest possible compliment. I had been reading Farmer all my life, and continue to reread his work, so undoubtedly I absorbed some of his stylistic tendencies through osmosis. That said, I was also conscious of many of Phil’s writing patterns and made sure to incorporate them into the prose when it was natural to do so, as I took over writing where he left off.

The process felt straightforward to me. Immerse myself in the chapters he had written. Study the outline for the remainder of the novel and flesh it out, where necessary. Consult the accompanying notes and follow them as closely as possible. Make judicious changes to bring small details in line with what had been published in his other Wold Newton works, particularly in Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life (for the uninitiated, Farmer revealed, in the biography Doc Savage, that the real name of the man upon whom the fictionalized Doc Savage pulp novels was based was Dr. James Clarke Wildman, Jr.; The Evil in Pemberley House introduces us to Doc Wildman’s daughter, Patricia Wildman); in line with this, do not alter Phil’s words, except where absolutely necessary for continuity. This latter point is extremely important to me, and has also guided me when participating in bringing other previously unpublished works by Phil to publication, or when preparing manuscripts for reissue by Titan: do not have the audacity to rewrite Philip José Farmer. He’s a Hugo-award winning author and a science fiction Grand Master!

Once the polished outline was approved by Phil and his wife Bette, I proceeded to write, and sent bundles of chapters to them for their review and comments. The rest, as they say, is history.

The Evil in Pemberley House
is not what you think!

And The Scarlet Jaguar
is not who you think!

The Evil in Pemberley House came out in 2009 and is now out of print although I believe Camelot Books may have a few copies left in stock of both the trade and limited editions. I’m writing a series of follow-up novellas. The first is The Scarlet Jaguarand is “volume II of the memoirs of Pat Wildman,” out now from Meteor House.


ANTHONY: Your short stories all feature classic pulp or adventure fiction characters, which means you constantly get to play “what if X met K…” Given free rein, what are your dream match-ups that you haven’t gotten a chance to write yet?

WSE:   I would love to take on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Avengers (Steed and Emma Peel). And of course Farmer’s own pulp hero analogues, Lord Grandrith and Doc Caliban, from his novels A Feast Unknown , Lord of the Trees, and The Mad Goblin. Interestingly, Farmer left a fourth novel featuring Caliban, The Monster on Hold, unfinished.

ANTHONY: And I know I’m not the only one hoping that someone, someday, will finish The Monster On Hold and bring it to print. 😉 You’ve written tales of Zorro, the Green Hornet, Sherlock Holmes, Captain Midnight, and the Avenger for various anthologies, as well as a Honey West / T.H.E. Cat novel (co-written with Matthew Baugh). What’s your writing process like for these stories? I understand it all starts with being invited to participate, but how do you proceed from invite to publication?

WSE:   The “bible” is key. I come into these projects with a high degree of familiarity with the characters, but sometimes the publisher has a particular take to which the writers need to adhere, and that’s outlined in the bible. This is particularly important when there are several versions of a character to be addressed–or ignored, as the case may be. Adherence to canon, and honoring the character, is paramount (of course, even reasonable people can sometimes disagree on the definition of canon), and Moonstone shares these sensibilities, which is why I enjoy working with them so often on their licensed properties. For example, in the thirteenth Avenger pulp novel, Murder on Wheels, Richard Benson loses the ability to mold his face, and his hair reverts from shock-white to black. Moonstone felt that this removed perhaps the primary interesting feature of the character and mandated in the bible that the stories features the white-haired, white skin Benson with the moldable facial features–a decision I heartily endorsed. But this mandate also causes problems for some writers, like me, who also feel that adhering to canon means adhering to a realistic chronology of a character’s adventures. How to tell a story of Benson later in his career and also have him white-haired? I solved the problem in my first Avenger tale with a reference to the recent reappearance of his powers and white skin and hair. A few other writers also wrestled with this and addressed it in a similar way.


Two great sleuths
in one fun novella!

Another example is Honey West. The Moonstone version is an amalgamation of the eleven novels and the television series with Anne Francis, which ran for one season. Both have different supporting characters. The Moonstone bible takes the best of both. But I wanted to take it one step further. To guide writing the novella A Girl and Her Cat (co-written with Matthew Baugh), I worked up a Honey West timeline. This is the sort of exercise which helps me get centered for the writing process. Fortunately, the television series (and the Moonstone comic and stories) can be neatly placed in a gap between the ninth novel, Bombshell, which came out in 1964, and the tenth novel, which came out in 1971. Creating a timeline usually reveals gaps which can be filled in. For instance, in 1971’s Honey on Her Tail, it’s revealed that Honey and Lt. Mark Storm have not seen each other in several years. So we wrote their “goodbye” scene into A Girl and Her Cat. In the 1971 book, Honey has given up her private eye practice and is now a secret agent. While we don’t show that career change in A Girl and Her Cat (Moonstone doesn’t care for Honey’s secret agent phase), we do take Honey along the path of that transition.

By the way, Honey West and T.H.E. Cat: A Girl and Her Cat, is due out from Moonstone in January 2014 in a limited edition hardcover. It’s listed for order in the November 2013 Diamond Previews catalogue. The Diamond Item Code is NOV131140. It can also be ordered from Things From Another World at a nice discount!


ANTHONY: Well, I pre-ordered mine from Midtown Comics in NYC. And for those interested: apparently the Diamond ordering deadline is December 6th, which is just a few days away as I post this interview. So click those links, especially if you’re a fan of 60s spy/crime/thrillers with strong female leads!

Now, You’ve also annually contributed stories to Black Coat Press’ Tales of the Shadowmen series. Those anthologies are themed rather than focusing on a single character, so how do you choose the lead characters for those stories? How involved in character and plot choice are the publishers?

WSE:   Fortunately, even though each annual book has a theme, the theme is a suggestion rather than a requirement. So, I rarely feel bound by the theme and instead focus on which French characters interest me. The publisher, Jean-Marc Lofficier, is quite ready to suggest French characters, or characters created by French writers, but is equally willing to give the writers latitude, as long as there is some kind of substantial “French connection.” Jean-Marc has plot approval, of course, to ensure that the tale meets quality standards and comports with the generally understood canon of the characters–but again, he also gives the writers a nice amount of leeway.

I’ve had the opportunity to write several stories about Doc Ardan, Madame Atomos, and the Scarlet Pimpernel, among others.

Crossovers, Volume One

ANTHONY: Sadly, you’re not in the current Volume 10: Esprit De Corps … But I am! (Sorry to highjack your spotlight for just a second there, but I couldn’t resist. Moving on…. Your Crossovers: A Secret Chronology of the World, Volume 1 and Volume 2, is a pretty exhaustive look at the history of literary interconnectedness that Philip José Farmer really popularized. In your researches, what connection between characters did it surprise you to discover? And are you constantly looking for new connections to make? (For instance, I recently read Jess Faraday’s The Affair of the Porcelain Dog, which has a number of Holmes connections including a lead character named Ira Adler, and Lester Heath’s The Case of the Aluminum Crutch, featuring a teenage detective named “Sherlock” Jones. You can imagine the paths my brain traveled in both cases.) And to piggy-back on that question: new crossover stories, including your own, are constantly appearing. How often, if at all, do you plan on updating Crossovers?

WSE:   There are thousands of crossovers noted in the books, and it’s very hard to pick out just a few highlights. Turning the question on its ear, the crossovers that really inspired me, captured my interest, and led me down the OCD path of creating a cohesive Crossover Universe, were those found in the writings of Philip José Farmer (such as the Sherlock Holmes-Lord Greystoke novel The Adventure of the Peerless Peer); the unnamed cameos of Doc Savage and the Amazing Five in Dave’s Stevens’ magnificent The Rocketeer (and The Shadow in the follow-up); Ron Fortier and Jeff Butler’s wonderful four-part comic series Sting of the Green Hornet; Cay Van Ash’s Fu Manchu-Sherlock Holmes novel Ten Years Beyond Baker Street; and David McDaniel’s fantastic Man from U.N.C.L.E. novels, particularly The Dagger Affair and The Rainbow Affair.

I’m sure I’m leaving many on the table, but these are the ones that immediately come to mind.

I’m always keeping an eye out for new crossovers, and taking note of them. That said, it’s a monumental task that tends to displace all other activities, and I’ve put aside the formal documentation of additions to the Crossover Universe for the foreseeable future, in order to focus on writing fiction.

Crossoves, Volume 2

This is a good a place as any to announce that Sean Levin, a fan and expert on both Farmer and crossovers, and a wonderful and talented guy, has taken over formally tracking and documenting crossovers. He’s following my Crossover Universe framework to a “T,” and doing a better job than I could have ever hoped for. So, there will be Crossoversvolumes 3 & 4 in the future, although I don’t have any further details or information to announce right now in that regard. These books are multi-year efforts, so stay tuned!


ANTHONY: Of course! You’ve co-edited three volumes of Green Hornet short stories with Joe Gentile (the third volume was also co-edited with Matthew Baugh), both from Moonstone Books. How do you break apart the editing chores?

WSE:   It’s very organic, a lot of back and forth. We had a lot of input into the bible, including settling once and for all on the 1960s television continuity as the setting for our books. On the first book, The Green Hornet Chronicles, Joe solicited writers and I took the first several passes at copyediting. Joe then took final passes; it was his baby, after all. For the second book, The Green Hornet Casefiles, I took the lead on author selection, although of course Joe had a lot of say. On the third book, I just had too much going on and suggested we bring in a trusted third, Matthew Baugh. Again it was organic. Sometimes Matthew took the first pass, and sometimes I did. Joe once more did final passes. I’m very proud of the work we did on those books, both in terms of the quality of writing and the proofing/quality control processes we utilized. In fact, the third book, The Green Hornet: Still at Large, won the 2013 Pulp Ark Award for best anthology.

The most recent
Green Hornet anthology


ANTHONY: Congrats on that! Have you edited or co-edited any other anthologies recently? Are you editing or co-editing any other anthologies in the near future?

WSE:   I co-edited, with my good friend Christopher Paul Carey, the recently-released Tales of the Wold Newton Universe, for Titan Books. The book collects, for the first time ever in one volume, SF Grand Master Philip José Farmer‘s Wold Newton short stories, as well as authorized tales by other Farmerian writers.

I should add what a pleasure it was to work with Chris on the book and our introduction, which can be read online at SF Signal; he’s such a talented writer and editor, and I know he’s going places–big places.

I don’t see any editing projects in my future. If another “can’t say no” opportunity like Tales of the Wold Newton Universe comes along, I would have to rethink that answer, but editing anthologies requires a time commitment of Brobdingnagian proportions, and right now I’m focusing on my own writing.


Tales of the Wold Newton Universe
available now

ANTHONY: We’ve established how much fun you have working with all these classic characters. Are you working on a novel or series-recurring character of your own creation? (In other words, what does the near future hold for fans of your writing?)

WSE:   Well, I do plan on at least three or four more Pat Wildman novellas. These would bring Pat through the 1970s and into the early 1980s . . . which, not coincidentally, is about when the unfinished Monster on Hold occurs. The Doc Caliban tales take place in a parallel universe to the Doc Wildman / Pat Wildman stories (see my introduction to the Titan Books edition of Lord of the Trees and my chronology in the Titan edition of The Mad Goblin), but nonetheless there is a tight connection between the two universes. The Pat Wildman books, taking place in the Wold Newton Universe, will lead up to the events of The Monster on Hold in the Grandrith/Caliban Universe.

Of course, I should emphasize there are no firm plans–yet–for The Monster on Hold. But I do have a lot mapped out already. So, fingers crossed it will come together. In the meantime, I plan to have fun revealing Pat Wildman’s next adventures, and I have high-level ideas for at least the next two or three.

Matthew Baugh and I are also deep into mapping out a Honey West / T.H.E. Cat follow-up for Moonstone Books. It’s a caper taking place in Europe in the early 1970s and I can tell you it’s going to be quite sexy and fun. I really enjoy the creative jamming back-and-forth Matthew and I have on these books.

I’m writing a Pat Wildman / Kent Lane short story for Meteor House’s The Worlds of Philip Jose Farmer 5. And I’ve been approached for a short story for a licensed character anthology which is going to be super-cool. I can’t discuss that further right now, but I’m really jazzed about it.

I also plan on writing a Sherlock Holmes novella for Meteor House. It flows out of the already-published short story “The Adventure of the Fallen Stone” (Sherlock Holmes: The Crossovers Casebook) and will be called The Dynamics of a Meteor. The time-frame for this one is 1919, and will take place shortly after Farmer’s authorized Doc Savage novel, Escape from Loki: Doc Savage’s First Adventure.

And . . . I’m tacking my first comic book script, a Honey West tale for Moonstone. This one is going to fill in a pretty important piece of Honey’s history, and will be illustrated by the super-talented Silvestre Szilagyi, who has done some of the other Honey comics.

ANTHONY: Well, this conversation has wandered far and wide, and could keep wandering, so I’ll bring it around to my usual final question: What is your favorite book, and what would you say to convince someone who has never read it that they should read it?

WSE:   Which brings us full circle back to the beginning of this interview. My favorite book is Philip José Farmer’s Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life. If you love 1930s and ’40s pulp heroes, fictional biographies, and metafictional mashups such as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula novels (and by the way, both Alan Moore and Kim Newman acknowledge their debt to Farmer and the Wold Newton mythos), then this book (and the companion biography, Tarzan Alive) will be right up your literary alley.

 ANTHONY: Thanks, Win!

WSE:   Thank you very much, Anthony! This was fun.


You can find Win all over the internet: on his own website, on Twitter as @woldnewton, on Facebook, Pinterest, tumblr, Goodreads and Amazon and of course at most of the links embedded in the interview.

Note: If you’re interested in Meteor House, you can find my interview with publisher Mike Croteau HERE. And later this week, I’ll also be posting an interview with Black Coat Press publisher J.M. Lofficier, so be sure to come back for that!


Worlds of Philip Jose Farmer, Vol 3

One of my favorite independent publishers is Meteor House, who specialize in works related to the great Philip Jose Farmer. Meteor House is one of the prime motivators (along with Titans Books’ reprint line) behind the resurgence of interest in Farmer’s work in general and in Farmer’s Wold-Newton Family work in particular. I had a chance to sit down with Mike Croteau, the founder of Meteor House, to talk about the imprint, its goals, and of course about Phil Farmer.

Anthony: How long has Meteor House been in existence as a publisher?

MIKE: Meteor House launched in 2010. After publishing the fanzine Farmerphile: The Magazine of  Philip José Farmer from 2005 to 2009, it felt like the right time to take the next step, to start a company and publish some books.

ANTHONY: Where does the company name come from?

MIKE: The “Meteor” in question refers to the Wold Newton Meteorite which crashed in Wold Newton England in 1795. This historical event plays a significant role in many of Philip José Farmer’s works.

ANTHONY: The focus of your efforts is clearly on the great Philip José Farmer. How much of an influence has his work been on you personally?

MIKE: To really get this answer, you need to pick up Titan Books’ brand-new reprint of The Wind Whales of Ishmael. I was honored to be invited to write the foreword to that edition, and in it I take about 1,700 words to answer that question! I will say that between maintaining Farmer’s official website, Facebook page, Meteor House, my book collecting, selling books from his estate for his heirs, rereading his books and still trying to read a lot of the books that influenced him…it’s safe to say that Philip José Farmer is my full-time hobby.

ANTHONY: You started with plans for annual Words of Philip Jose Farmer anthologies. Tell us a bit about the focus of the series and the kinds of writing readers can expect.

MIKE: Each issue of the  fanzine Farmerphile, which I mentioned above, contained never-before-seen material by Farmer himself (stories, articles, speeches, letters, excerpts), all culled from his “Magic Filing Cabinet,” so named because every time it is searched a new discovery is made. Each issue also contained tributes to Farmer and critiques of his work, by his fans and his fellow science fiction writers. Everyone who contributed to Farmerphile really did it for the love of Phil—because the only payment was two contributor copies! The money from sales went to cover printing and postage expenses, while the lion’s share went to Phil himself (thus making it worth his while to let us continually search through his files).

With The Worlds of Philip Jose Farmer anthologies, we shifted gears a bit. Since Phil was no longer with us (he passed away in February 2009) it was no longer about writing tributes to him that he would get to read. While each volume still contains stories, articles, speeches, letters, excerpts, interviews, tributes, critiques, all by or about Farmer, we also obtained permission from his estate to allow writers to create new licensed fiction using his creations. So we are able to publish new stories about some of his most popular characters and worlds, like Greatheart Silver, John Gribardsun, Roger Two Hawks, the World of Tiers, Khokarsa, members of the Wold Newton Family, and many others.

ANTHONY: When will the next Worlds of PJF volume be out, and what authors/focus can we expect?

MIKE: The first three volumes in the series were all released each year at FarmerCon, our annual gathering of Farmer’s fans (now being held in conjunction with PulpFest). This year, however, volume 4 is being delayed because Meteor House is releasing two other books at FarmerCon this summer. The first is a joint venture we’re doing with Altus Press to reprint Farmer’s biography of the Man of Bronze, Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life. Altus Press is publishing the ebook and trade paperback edition, while we’re publishing the deluxe hardcover edition, which is full of bonus material.

The second book we’re releasing is the second in our series of original signed limited edition novellas: The Scarlet Jaguar by Win Scott Eckert. Win is one of the foremost experts on Farmer and his Wold Newton Family, as well as the Wold Newton Universe that Win helped expand from Farmer’s original concept. This story is a sequel to the novel The Evil in Pemberley House, which Farmer and Eckert co-wrote and was published in 2009.

So, to finally answer…wait, what was your question? Oh yeah, the next Worlds of PJF book. As soon as we get back from FarmerCon we’ll kick into high gear to get that out well in time for Christmas. The book is actually pretty far along, except there is more material than can be used, so we’re in the process of culling that down. But there is still so much work to do on the other two books we’re bringing out we’re focusing our energies on those first.

Each book in the Worlds of PJF series has a theme. Volume 1 was subtitled “Protean Dimensions” and it focused Farmer’s near utter disregard of literary boundaries. The second volume, “Of Dust and Soul,” looked at Farmer’s interest in the softer sciences like philosophy, psychology, and theology, among other things. The third volume, “Portraits of a Trickster,” focused on the trickster nature of many of Phil’s characters, as well as his own.

I actually don’t want to say too much about the next book yet except to say that it will focus on, of all things, Farmer the science fiction writer. That is, a science fiction writer in the “classic” sense, one who wrote about space exploration, the far future, alien invasions, and the like. But I am excited to announce that it will have a foreword by Robert Silverberg!

Meteor House re-issues a Farmer classic

ANTHONY: I’m a big Silverberg fan, so that’s doubly exciting for me! How has Meteor House grown since you started? And where do you see the company going in the near future?

MIKE: In 2010 we published one book, The Worlds of PJF 1. In 2011, we also published just one book, The Worlds of PJF Volume 2. We started slow as we made the adjustment from fanzines to books, which turned out to be a bigger adjustment than expected.

In 2012 we published two books, The Worlds of PJF Volume 3, and our first signed limited edition novella, Exiles of Kho by Christopher Paul Cary. Chris was the coauthor, with Farmer, of The Song of Kwasin, the third and concluding novel in Farmer’s Khoharsa series (begun in the mid-1970s with Hadon of Ancient Opar and Flight to Opar). Exiles of Kho is an origin story about that world, and it is currently out of print.

So here we are in 2013 and we will be publishing four books. The first, due out in June, is our first non-Farmer title (although he is mentioned in the book), The Abnormalities of Stringent Strange by Rhys Hughes. Rhys is a brilliant writer who is hard to classify, although I guess surrealism is probably the one word that does the best job to describe his works. Stringent Strange starts off as a 1930s-style aviation pulp, then turns into a time-travel science fiction novel, then gets rather surrealistic, and then it gets weird. This book is currently only available as a signed limited edition, and it is nearly sold out.

Then, of course, we have the three books already mentioned. The hardcover edition of Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life (full of bonus materials), The Scarlet Jaguar, and The Worlds of PJF 4.

Other than The Worlds of PJF 5, and another signed limited edition novella, or two, we don’t have nearly as much planned for 2014. But I’m fairly sure that will change.

ANTHONY: As a small independent publisher, what challenges do you face in promoting your books, and how are you working to overcome those challenges?

MIKE: Having maintained a website about Farmer since 1996 (and his official site since 2001), there was a built-in audience for the Worlds of PJF series, but not enough of one to sell out an edition of 500 copies. We do a lot of social media, of course. To date we haven’t spent a lot of money on marketing, except for the money we put into hosting FarmerCon at PulpFest. We’re very proud of our books, from the artwork and design, to the contents, to the editing, layout, copyediting, etc. We believe we put out books that are just as good as any publisher of any size, so word of mouth is important to us. It’s a good sign that a small percentage of our customers who only buy one of our books.

Win Eckert carries on Farmer’s legacy

ANTHONY: Why does Farmer’s work still speak so strongly to readers after all these years? What has prompted the resurgence in interest that seems to be occurring?

MIKE: That is hard to answer. The seeming resurgence might just be due to the state of publishing these days. Most of the great authors from the early days of science fiction, even the biggest names, are going out of print to make room on the shelves for all the current writers. I suppose this is natural. So when someone like Titan Books decides to reissue a dozen Farmer titles, it seems like he’s “coming back.” Then again, other than the Riverworld series, Farmer has mostly been published by smaller presses (Subterranean Press, Monkey Brain, Ramble House, Meteor House, Overlook Press, Bison Books, Creation Oneiros, IDW, Baen, etc.) over the last decade or so. So his books are staying in print, but for the most part they are through specialty publishers and you have to buy them online.The Titan reprints I mentioned above are different, since they have major distribution and we haven’t seen anyone print this many Farmer titles since Ace in the 1970s.

As for his resurgence, I think some of it has to do with his fanbase and the big following of his Wold Newton theory. I believe it was the idea of marketing many of Farmer’s books as “Wold Newton Novels” that got Titan Books interested in reprinting Farmer in the first place. And guys like Danny Adams, Win Scott Eckert, and Christopher Paul Carey completing some of Farmer’s unfinished works, and giving readers “new” Farmer, has kept the interest level up.

But to answer your question as to why his works speak so strongly to readers, to me the most remarkable thing about Farmer is that his knowledge was very broad, and in many places very deep. So he put so much into each book. If you ever come across something in one of his books, a random fact about a place he created, like the natives not having any generic words in their language, and you think, “that was a throwaway he probably made up on the spot,” you’re wrong. If he goes into detail about something, he’s done the research. Farmer is one of those writers who, no matter how many times you reread one of his books, you always discover something new.

And he was into so many things which people are still discovering are cool, like pulp heroes, and alternate universe/timelines, writing fiction about real people, or trying to prove someone you thought was fictional was in fact a real living person, and other outside-the-box thinking.

ANTHONY: And my usual closing question: What is your favorite book and what would you say to someone who hasn’t read it in order to convince them that they should?

MIKE: Let’s see, you started this interview on a Tuesday, but I started typing this on a Thursday, and now it’s Saturday, so…which answer should I give? I have a hard time picking my favorite Farmer title, or in most cases my favorite from any author. It often depends on the person I’m recommending the book to. But since it’s Saturday, I’ll go with today’s answer: The Maker of Universes. This is the first book in the World of Tiers series and introduces Kickaha (aka Paul Janus Finnegan, note the initials), who although an ancillary character in the first book, by the third book takes over as the focus of the series. If you’re not familiar with Kickaha, think Tarzan, but without the Victorian restraint that Edgar Rice Burroughs gave him. Even if The Maker of Universes isn’t always my favorite book, Kickaha will always be my favorite of Farmer’s characters.


You can learn more about Meteor House at their site.

You can still pre-order the re-issue of Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life and the new Pat Wildman novella The Scarlet Jaguar.


This week, I’m happy to be rambling on with fellow Wold-Newton afficianado Christopher Paul Carey.

Christopher Paul Carey

Christopher Paul Carey is the coauthor with Philip José Farmer of Gods of Opar: Tales of Lost Khokarsa. He is an editor with Paizo Publishing and the award-winning Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, and the editor of three collections of Philip José Farmer’s work: Up from the Bottomless Pit and Other Stories, Venus on the Half-Shell and Others, and The Other in the Mirror. His short fiction may be found in such anthologies as The Worlds of Philip José Farmer, Tales of the Shadowmen, and The Avenger: The Justice, Inc. Files. Visit him online at www.cpcarey.com.


ANTHONY: I know you’ve told this story elsewhere, but let’s start out with the basics: How did you get involved with Philip José Farmer and come to collaborate on THE SONG OF KWASIN, the conclusion of Farmer’s Opar/Khorkasa Trilogy?


CHRIS: Back in 2005, I was serving as editor of Farmerphile: The Magazine of Philip José Farmer, a quarterly digest dedicated to printing rare and previously unpublished material by Farmer, as well as articles on his life and work. Michael Croteau—Farmerphile’s publisher and Phil’s webmaster—and author and Wold Newton expert Win Scott Eckert were in Peoria searching through Phil’s archives looking for material to print in the magazine when the outline and partial manuscript to the third Khokarsa novel turned up. I was contacted because I was editing the magazine, and I pitched the idea of completing the novel to Phil. I’d known Phil since 1998, and we’d corresponded before that. He was familiar with my writing about his work, and he told me he was confident I’d do a good job with the story. I think that, because of my writings on his work as well as our similar backgrounds in Haggard, Burroughs, and other adventure writers from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, he felt I’d be faithful to his vision. We also shared a love of anthropology, which figures heavily into the world building for the Khokarsa series.


ANTHONY: What was working with one of your heroes like? And how heavily was he involved in the process?


CHRIS:  Wondrously terrifying! Phil gave me some specific input on how he wanted the third book and the trilogy to wrap up, but largely left how I would handle things up to me. That said, I followed his original outline as closely as I possibly could and kept him up to date on everything I was doing as the book progressed. He approved the expanded chapter-by-chapter outline that I wrote based on his own outline, and I mailed chapters of the novel as I wrote them to Phil so he and his wife Bette were apprised of what I was doing.


ANTHONY:  I asked Win Eckert this question too, in relationship to THE EVIL IN PEMBERLEY HOUSE: How hard was it merging your own distinct voice with Phil’s, especially considering you were wrapping up a trilogy?


CHRIS: I’ve been immersed in Phil’s writings for many, many years, so I think a lot of his phraseology has rubbed off on me, and some of that probably comes through in The Song of Kwasin. Phil had a unique style, brilliant really, in that it’s very simple and clear and yet conveys sophisticated nuances. I’m not sure anyone can completely replicate another writer’s style. One can come close, but style is always translated by the particular spirit of the writer.


I did, however, very consciously write the novel imagining that I was in 1976, when the last installment of the series was published. So I tried to limit myself to the modes of mid-1970s heroic fiction precisely because I didn’t want the reader to sense a hiccough between the second and third books. But it’s not up to me to say whether I succeeded.


Gods of Opar: Tales of Lost Khokarsa

ANTHONY:  Subterranean Press has published an omnibus edition, GODS OF OPAR, that includes THE SONG OF KWASIN. The limited edition of the book has some extra special features, correct? Can you tell me about them?


CHRIS: The signed limited edition sold out in preorders before publication, so I hope what I’m about to say won’t be too frustrating to someone who reads this now and wants a copy! In any case, the limited edition includes an entire signature of background material about the Khokarsa series written by Philip José Farmer. These include Phil’s original typed outline to the third novel, a detailed article on the Khokarsan language, a Khokarsan glossary, the Khokarsan calendar, and an article called “The Plants of Khokarsa.” None of these items have ever been published before, and they go a long way to sampling the meticulous world building Phil worked out for the series.


ANTHONY: There’s another Khorkasa tale coming out, written completely by you. Where can readers find it?


CHRIS: Exiles of Kho is a signed limited edition being published by Meteor House. The story is set several hundred years before the main trilogy and tells the story of the heroine-priestess Lupoeth as she explores the southern inland sea in the hinterlands beyond the empire of Khokarsa.


ANTHONY: Okay, let’s back up a bit. You are a huge “Farmerphile.” What was your first exposure to Phil’s work?


CHRIS: The first books of his that I read were The Maker of Universes, Tarzan Alive, and, fittingly, Hadon of Ancient Opar. I was twelve at the time, and I never viewed literature the same way again.


ANTHONY:  How heavily has Phil’s work influenced your own writing? And who else do you consider your biggest influences / heroes?


CHRIS:  Well, I’ve now written a novel, two novellas, and a short story, all set in his world of Khokarsa, if that answers your question!


As far as other influences and writers whose work I admire, there’s Frank Herbert, Hermann Hesse, H. Rider Haggard—hey, that’s a lot of the letter H! Another one: David Herter, who I think is one of the most brilliant voices out there today, and who heavily influence my short story “Caesar’s Children,” which I one day hope to expand into a novel.


ANTHONY: What is your own writing process like? Are you an “outliner” or a “pantser” when working on your own projects?


CHRIS:  I’m an outliner. Then I invariably diverge from the outline as needed and become a “pantser.” I also usually immerse myself in months of research before I start writing. For instance, the story I just mentioned, “Caesar’s Children,” was the result of about a year of surveying nineteenth-century utopian fiction. And that’s just a short story. It’s easy to get lost in the research because that’s the fun part of the process for me.


ANTHONY: You’ve written short stories and novels … does your process change at all from form to form?


CHRIS: It’s generally the same for me, except occasionally I can crank out a short story with the outline only in my head.


ANTHONY: You’re also a leading “Wold-Newton” scholar. What is it about Farmer’s Wold Newton concept that continues to fascinate new readers?


CHRIS: The Wold Newton family is a genealogy of literary characters proposed by Farmer in his biography Tarzan Alive, in which he attributed the extraordinary heroic and sometimes villainous characteristics of the family members to a 1795 meteor strike at Wold Newton in the East Riding of Yorkshire. I think the concept still resonates forty years after Farmer created it because the heroes, heroines, and villains from literature compose a sort of modern-day mythology. We want to believe in these characters, and seeing them as part of a family tree makes them more real to us. There’s also the ingenious way Farmer executed the genealogy—not merely as a series of dry literary crossovers, but rather through his intimate understanding and genuine love for the characters, and often with great humor.


ANTHONY: What projects are you working on now?


CHRIS: Right now I’m putting the finishing touches on Exiles of Kho. Then it’s back to my historical dark fantasy novel set in 1888, which I’ve spent the past few years researching.


ANTHONY: And my usual closing question: What is your favorite book, and what would you say to someone who has never read it to convince them that they should?


CHRIS: I can’t answer that—too many! But one I’ve returned to many times in recent years is David Herter’s Vernean fantasy Evening’s Empire. A composer dealing with the ghosts of his past and slipping into irreality as he’s working on an opera of Twenty-Thousand Leagues under the Sea—what could be more tantalizing than that?


ANTHONY: Thanks, Chris!