This page includes interviews with Philip José Farmer as well as other authors that have been influenced by his work.

Interviews with Philip José Farmer

Phil has made himself available to both pro and fan magazines for interviews all through out his long career.

Conducted by Paul Walker this interesting interview is mostly about Farmer's seemingly favorite topics, sex, violence and religion. Also a discussion of his use of literary figures as characters in his books.

This interview was conducted by Paul McGuire, Jerry Rauth and David Truesdale at MINICON 10 in Minneapolis on April 19th, 1975. The date is significant because through most of the interview the interviewers keep coming back to one question, "did you write VENUS ON THE HALF-SHELL?" There is also an editorial in this issue of Tangent where David Truesdale talks about Phil's cover being blown by the New York Times and that he called Phil May 8th to confirm that he was Trout.

Subtitled "The Inside Story of Kilgore Trout & Venus on the Half-Shell", the first part of the interview was conducted at the Mid-America Con I in Kansas City, June 1972 by David Kraft and Mitch Scheele. This is followed by some comments by Phil and more questions from Richard E. Geis, on June 6 1975. The first part of the interview covers a large portion of Farmer's topics, sex in scifi, pornography, World of Tiers, Riverworld, upcoming books and which series he may continue and complaints about publishers. A large part of the later section is about Kilgore Trout.

This interview was conducted by David Pringle on June 14th, 1976. After the usual questions about Phil's early career much of the interview is about his Tarzan and Doc Savage books.

This interview was conducted at the Summercon in Toronto July 30, 1977 by Chris Steinbrunner, Peter Gill, Jay Kay Klein and Charles McKee. This very long interview mostly talks about the fun Phil has had with his pastiches of Tarzan, Doc Savage, Sherlock Holmes and Kilgore Trout.

A nice long interview by Marty Klug that contains the usual questions about background, how Phil got into science fiction, the Tarzan and Doc bios, hollywood, and when will the next Riverworld book be out!

An interesting interview by Chris Landry mostly about science fiction literature, tv, and movies. Alphalog 6 was a Space:1999 fanzine.

Contains an interview by Philip A. Shreffler. They discuss Riverworld (especially when will the next book come out!), Kilgore Trout, fandom, pastiches and pulps. There is also an article called The Up-Dated Farmer by These Ven. It takes Farmer's theory that The Spider, G-8 and The Shadow are the same person, corrects it and expands on it greatly.

  • Xenophile, June/July 1979. (First appearance)

Conducted by Jim Purviance, this typical interview talks about Farmer's early career and influences and recurring themes and subject in his books.

  • Pulsar, Summer 1979 (First appearance)

This very interesting book contains 29 interviews of science fiction authors by Charles Platt. The Farmer interview talks about his early career and his writing influences. There is also an interview with Kurt Vonnegut Jr. and he mentions Phil and VENUS ON THE HALF-SHELL.

Contains an interview by E.E. Gilpatrick. The interview talks a lot about fantasy as opposed to science fiction.

Contains an interview by Michael Korolenko and Katherine Neville. They talk about A BARNSTORMER IN OZ and Baum's influence on Farmer. There are also two reviews of the book in this issue of the magazine.

This interview by Darrell Schweitzer starts off with Farmer's early career asks about Farmer's habit of writing about the characters he read about in his youth. The interview mentions the fact that the Opar series was going to be 12 books, then 7, then 5 (only two have been written) and it also talks about the upcoming DAYWORLD novel. When reprinted in 2001 a couple of additional questions and answers were appended to the end of the interview.

This book is full of transcripts of radio interviews of science fiction authors. This interview of Farmer talks about The Lovers, Night of Light, Riverworld, Tarzan, Kilgore Trout, A Barnstormer in Oz, Essex House, Love Song and even As you Desire.

Sort of an interview where Farmer discusses; his Tarzan and Doc Savage biographies, DAYWORLD BREAKUP, THE CATERPILLAR'S QUESTION, RED ORC'S RAGE and his hope to write a novel about a private eye.

Contains part one of an interview with Philip José Farmer. It mostly covers his writings about Tarzan and Doc Savage including a treatment he did for a Doc Savage movie. Part two promises to look the scripts he wrote for Star Trek in 1966.

Part two of this interview talks about the two stories he had intended for Star Trek, "The Shadow of Space" and "Sketches in the Ruins of My Mind." He also talks about movie rights that he has sold for both Riverworld and Dayworld.

An interview conducted by Michael Croteau and Craig Kimber. Farmer's two new forthcoming books, NOTHING BURNS IN HELL and THE DARK HEART OF TIME, were discussed at some length.

This very interesting interview focuses on Phil's life in Peoria. I don't know what webpage Terry is referring to when she says "that your Web site says you were born in Peoria" but it wasn't this one!

  • Peoria Journal Star, January 1999 (First appearance)

This interview mostly talks about Phil's first Mystery novel NOTHING BURNS IN HELL.

An interesting short interview, conducted through this website, and published on a Brazilian science fiction website.

  • Intempol, September 2004 (First appearance)

The two authors are interviewed about their collaboration on the novel THE CITY BEYOND PLAY. This novel was begun as early as 1970 but never completed by Farmer. His grand-nephew Danny Adams finished the novel based on the remaining outline and notes. He did such a good job of it that two small-press publishers bid for the book and PS Publishing will be bringing it out in mid-2007.

Chris is interviewed about the process of completing THE SONG OF KWASIN, the third novel in Phil's Khokarsa Cycle. Phil began this sequel to HADON OF ANCIENT OPAR and FLIGHT TO OPAR in the 1970s but never completed the project.

Win answers questions about not only finishing Phil's novel about Doc Wildman's daughter, THE EVIL IN PEMBERLEY HOUSE, but also making sure the events sync up with later books set in the Wold Newton Universe.

Tracy discusses the process of working with Phil's unfinished manuscript, THE COUGAR BY THE TAIL, and how Phil came to be writing a Western novel.

This interview, conducted by Danny Adams, took place in 1997 but appears in its entirety for the first time. Danny asked Phil not only the usual questions expected in an interview, but since he's part of the family they also talked about topics that don't normally come up in interviews.

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

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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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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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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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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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 (UP FROM THE BOTTOMLESS PIT AND OTHER STORIES, VENUS ON THE HALF-SHELL AND OTHERS, and THE OTHER IN THE MIRROR).

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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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