Interviews with Writers Influenced by Philip José Farmer

Here you will find a series of interviews with writers discussing Philip José Farmer as well as their own work.

Danny Adams

May 16th, 2016—an interview with Danny Adams about his new collaboration with Philip José Farmer, the novel DAYWORLD: A HOLE IN WEDNESDAY.

Philip José Farmer was your great-uncle—what is your first memory of meeting him?

    There isn’t much of one—I was five years old, and traveled to Peoria, Illinois with my family because my great-grandmother (his mother-in-law) had just died. I’m sorry to say that, being five, my primary memory of him then was that he kept fudgesicles in his freezer.

    The next time I went to Peoria I was twelve, thus with a vastly better capacity at retaining memories, and I have a lot of great memories of that two week trip, which was essentially pure magic (and included a riverboat ride).

Did you know he was a writer then, and if not, how did you make that discovery?

    I did, having discovered it the year before. We had a bookshelf in our living room that included several of my mother’s copies of his books, and somehow I only just at age eleven recognized his name on the covers, so I dove into perusing To Your Scattered Bodies Go. I was fascinated by the idea of real historical people being used in fiction, something I’d never encountered before. A few weeks later I overheard my mother talking to my Aunt Bette, so asked her if I could ask Uncle Phil some questions about Riverworld. He was tickled that I was so interested, and shortly afterward sent me come of his books, including the Riverworld series. The one I jumped into first, though, was Time’s Last Gift, because I was already a big time travel geek.

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Josh Reynolds

April 27th, 2014—an interview with Josh Reynolds about his Farmer-inspired novella PHILEAS FOGG AND THE WAR OF SHADOWS.

How did you get started as a freelance writer and what did you do before that?

    I loaded mail trucks. Loading mail trucks doesn't pay as well as you'd think, and I needed money for rent, so I started exploring other avenues of remuneration. One of those avenues happened to be writing. I worked the graveyard shift at the loading dock, and I'm a perennial insomniac, so I had plenty of time to write.

    Once I started to sell my writing on a regular basis, I bid adieu to the nightly conveyer belt dance-offs and cardboard box fights, though not without regrets.

According to your website, you’ve written 155 short stories, 5 novellas, and 13 novels since 2003 (that’s quite a lot!), do you prefer to write shorter or longer works?

    No preferences, really. Shorter works take less time, but I get paid more for longer stuff, so it evens out.

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Charles R. Saunders

October 5th, 2011—an interview with Charles R. Saunders about his resurgence and unbelievably busy schedule.

When did you first discover Philip José Farmer, do you recall the first novel or story of his you read?

    I’ve read so many of his books, I can’t remember what the first one was. But the first one that made a big impression on me was THE MAKER OF UNIVERSES. The sheer outpouring of imagination in that novel, and the rest of the World of Tiers series, was astounding to my youthful mind. A planet shaped like a wedding cake, populated by a mash-up of historical and mythological peoples, with super-advanced technology to boot. . . It was like walking through a fantastical funhouse.

Do you have a favorite Farmer novel?

    The whole Riverworld series. Phil Farmer is the only writer with the imagination to come up with such a notion of the afterlife, and the only one talented to have pulled off such a grand concept.

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S.M. Stirling

July 29th, 2011—an interview with S.M. Stirling about Farmer's influence on his Lords of Creation series.

You included Phil Farmer in your acknowledgements to
IN THE COURTS OF THE CRIMSON KINGS, the second book in your Lords of Creation series, which is helping to carry out a modernized SF pulp revival. What was it about Farmer's works that helped lead to the series?

    Partly their own merits, and partly the example that the headlong zest of the pulps could be combined with first-rate writing and careful construction.

What do you think it is about pulp SF that gives rise to this headlong zest?

    Lack of self-consciousness and enthusiasm. If you look at Howard's writing, for example, you feel that while he was writing it he believed it.

Some people claim that a lot of modern SF lacks a sense of adventure. Whether or not you share this view, do you think that the element of adventure inherent in pulp could help the genre overall by modernizing pulp—or perhaps by bringing more of this and its other best qualities into modern so-called mainstream SF? (Or both?)


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Christopher Paul Carey

June 4th, 2011—an interview with Christopher Paul Carey about his forthcoming collaboration with Philip José Farmer, THE SONG OF KWASIN.

Tell us a little about yourself and how you first discovered Philip José Farmer.

    Well, from a young age I’ve been fascinated by science fiction and fantasy. I started out reading H. G. Wells. I had an omnibus—I think it was simply titled SCIENCE FICTION BY H. G. WELLS—that I devoured when I was in grade school. I also read and enjoyed Jonathan Swift, Jules Verne, and Tolkien at an early age, but it wasn’t until I encountered Edgar Rice Burroughs that the dam broke and I knew I had to write. Right after that I discovered Farmer. The first books of his that I read were THE MAKER OF UNIVERSES, HADON OF ANCIENT OPAR, and TARZAN ALIVE, having been drawn to him by the intersection with ERB’s worlds in the latter two works. I was spellbound straightaway with how Farmer had taken Burroughs’s proclivity for linking his own series together and expanded it, so that all of literature seemed to exist in a meta universe that one could get access to by creative reading. We’re so used to hearing the phrase “creative writing,” but Farmer initiated his readers into the wondrous secret that reading itself can be an actively creative process. And as I devoured everything of Farmer’s that I could find (after reading every ERB novel I could find), I was also reading a lot of the authors that influenced Phil, such as Vonnegut, Twain, London, and Doyle.
    So I guess because of all of this exposure to the fantastic I ended up a writer and editor of SF/F. In my day job I work as an editor at Paizo Publishing, publisher of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and the Planet Stories science fiction and fantasy imprint. In the past few years I’ve also had some of my short fiction published in anthologies. In my free time I write.
    And eventually, I should add, I got to meet and know Phil Farmer and his wife Bette, which I count as one of the great honors and experiences of my life. I was also fortunate to have had the opportunity to edit three Farmer collections for Subterranean Press (

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Mark Hodder

April 8th, 2011—an interview with Mark Hodder about his Burton & Swinburne series as well as Farmer and Hodder's fascination with Sir Richard Francis Burton.

What did you do for a living before you started writing novels, and are you still doing it—or have you become a fulltime novelist?

    I started out as a commercial scriptwriter for radio. Horrible job. Four years spent trying to convince people to buy stuff they didn't need and probably couldn't afford. Four years trapped by a format that's desperately tired and dated but which no one has the will to change. Four years surrounded by arrogance, obnoxiousness, and huge egos. Hateful. I escaped during the dotcom boom and went to work as a content editor at an ISP startup in London. I'm not convinced anyone there had a clue what they were doing. I was paid a ridiculous amount of money for no good reason, indulged in long liquid lunches, then the bubble burst, we were all out of a job, and my liver was saved. I freelanced for a couple of years after that, providing copy for different projects, mostly online stuff, some interesting, some dull. It was a satisfying but rather too unpredictable period. Then I joined the BBC for a long stretch. I provided promo copy for the channel web pages, for a lot of programme pages, and, for a year, I also wrote articles for BBC News Online. A happy time because I liked the people I worked with, but a frustrating time because I was buried deep inside a huge corporation. When the BBC began its current bout of "downsizing," I took voluntary redundancy, freelanced again for a little while, then decided to escape the rat race and move to Spain. I began teaching English, which proved easy, enjoyable, and rewarding. Then the book deals came along, and I was able to pretty much phase out everything else. I still take on a language student or two if I need to, but mostly, with the support of my wonderful girlfriend, I'm just about surviving as a full time novelist.

You and Philip José Farmer share a fascination with the linguist, explorer, and writer, Sir Richard Francis Burton. Was Farmer's Riverworld series the first place you encountered Burton?

    Yes, it was. TO YOUR SCATTERED BODIES GO was the first Farmer book I ever read and also my first encounter with Sir Richard Francis Burton. The RIVERWORLD series made a huge impression on me. I was around 12 years old, and up to that point had been obsessed with Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard. Farmer showed me that fantastic fiction could be exciting but possess greater depth, too.

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