||Hadon, King of
Christopher Paul Carey
|June 18, 2015
Paul Carey is a writer and editor. Three of Farmer’s story
collections from Subterranean Press (in 2007-2009) were edited by him.
He is the co-author with Philip José Farmer of the third
Khokarsa novel, The Song of Kwasin
(2012). We never thought to see this novel, after the publication of
the first two. These two were published in 1974 and 1976. A third was
announced then, but never published until Christopher finished the
novel with Farmer’s permission.
In addition to writing and finishing The Song of Kwasin
Christopher also wrote some other Opar stories as well, three novellas.
One together with Philip José Farmer, two others of his own,
based on notes from Farmer.
These novellas are: “A Kick in the Side” (published
Worlds of Philip José Farmer Volume 1: Protean Dimensions
- 2010), “Kwasin
and the Bear God” (written with Farmer, published
Worlds of Philip José Farmer (2): Of Dust and Soul
- 2011), and Exiles of Kho
(published by Meteor House in 2012).
But Chris wasn’t finished with Opar it seems. His publisher
announced two new novellas Hadon,
King of Opar and Blood
of Ancient Opar, volumes 4 and 5 in the Opar / Khokarsa
Both will be published in limited editions by Meteor House. Hadon, King of Opar
in August this year, and Blood
of Ancient Opar in 2016.
|Christopher Paul Carey
Q: First, please tell us a bit
about how and why did you come to write Hadon, King of Opar?
What gave you the idea? Has Farmer infected you with the Opar virus?
Thanks for having me back, Rias. I’m not sure I’d
it with the metaphor of a virus. It’s more like
it’s in my
literary DNA. I grew up reading Farmer and Burroughs and Haggard.
I’ve been writing since I was a young child, and I very much
the idea of working within a tradition. With the Khokarsa series,
there’s a very clear chain of transmission running from
to Burroughs, and then from both of those authors to Farmer. Exploring
that chain, and then carrying it forward, gives me a tremendous amount
of satisfaction. That’s the “why.” As for
“how,” that’s simply a matter of making
sure all of
the interested parties have given their permission or blessings for new
works set in Opar to be written. That was the breakthrough that
happened last year, and so I went to work and wrote the book, which was
dream come true for me.
finished the third and as I thought conclusive Opar novel, The Song of Kwasin.
But the story wasn’t finished? You had more to tell? Or was
it original Farmer’s idea to write more?
When I was working on The
Song of Kwasin, I had access to Philip José
Farmer’s notes on the Khokarsa series, including two drafts
of his outline for Flight
to Opar. In one of those drafts, Phil mentioned that the
next two books in the series after Flight
would be titled The
Siege of Opar and Hadon,
King of Opar, respectively.
Ultimately, Phil changed his mind about The Siege of Opar
and decided to write a novel about Hadon’s giant cousin,
and his struggles to unseat King Minruth from the throne of Khokarsa.
So The Siege of Opar
in the end became The
Song of Kwasin. A bit later in that particular Flight to Opar
outline, Phil stops outlining the novel and begins trying to figure out
what would come later in the series. It’s clear he was trying
work this out so he would know how to wrap up the plot of Flight to Opar, and
all the implications that ending would hold for the unfolding series.
So there is a brief sub-outline within the outline for Flight to Opar
detailing what would have happened in Ancient Opar in the years
following the great calamity that shatters the Khokarsan Empire, and
even a hint of what would have happened after that period. So Phil was
absolutely planning to write more in the series that would have been
set after the cataclysm.
the new novella completely of your own, or based on Farmer’s
notes? What did you have to do or study before you started writing this
King of Opar
is based on Phil’s synopsis of future events in the series,
although since that outline only focused on major events, there were a
lot of blanks I had to fill in on my own. I extrapolated several major
plot points from the already written novels. So it’s a
combination of Farmer and Carey that sets the scene for more ideas
outlined by Phil for the continuing series.
To prepare for writing the book, I did a lot of rereading of the
Khokarsa series, and reread a lot of Burroughs and Haggard for
inspiration. There was one classic fight scene in Haggard’s Nada the Lily
that I consulted, since I had a similar scene in the novella. I wanted
to deconstruct how Haggard could write a passage so vivid that would
stick with me for so many years. Turns out, the scene was much shorter
than I’d remembered, and he’d made the scene
a combination of crisp prose and mythic imagery. So I tried to learn
from that. I also dipped back into Heritage
of the Flaming God [see this entry and the website
for the book), the original monograph written by Frank J. Brueckel and
John Harwood that inspired Phil to write the Khokarsa series.
is the story about? Can you tell us a bit about the storyline?
The story picks up about fourteen years after the great earthquake that
destroyed all of the queendoms of Khokarsa except for Opar. Hadon is
now king of his city of gold and jewels, tasked with keeping his people
alive in a changing and hostile world. While his wife, the queen and
high priestess Lalila, is conducting a ritual ceremony of the
priestesses on the sacred Isle of Lupoeth, a mysterious force invades
the valley of Opar. There is a lot of intrigue in the story, and not a
few surprises, so I don’t want to go into much more detail
wrote one novella and a second one to come, as volumes 4 and 5 in the
Opar / Khokarsa series. Why novellas and not full length novels?
The publisher has an agreement with the Farmer estate that allows for
the publication novellas set in Philip José
worlds written by other authors. Under those terms, I can write
novellas set in Khokarsa and Ancient Opar, whereas novels are reserved
for works written wholly by Farmer or coauthored by him. Therefore
I’m writing two novellas back to back that will tell the
arc of a full-length novel. Hadon,
King of Opar is the first, which will be followed next
year by Blood of Ancient
Both works will be at the upper end of the word count for what
constitutes a novella—about a quarter longer than my first
novella, Exiles of Kho.
There’s a lot of story to tell in this arc.
read the following in a review of the novella: «When reading
Hadon, King of Opar, it felt like I was reading a lost work of Philip
José Farmer himself. Carey’s talent as a writer,
of the works of Burroughs, Haggard, and Farmer, his education in
anthropology, and interest in linguistics has allowed him to continue
the Khokarsa series with the same skill and passion as
What are your feelings about this compliment?
The words are too kind. Phil was a real Renaissance man and his
knowledge was much broader and deeper than mine. I do admit to being
well read in Burroughs, Haggard, and Farmer, and I hold a
bachelor’s degree in anthropology. But Farmer was a
Brobdingnagian, whereas I’m a Lilliputian by comparison..
will the next novella, Blood
of Ancient Opar, be about? Who will be the protagonist?
The novella will pick up directly after the tumultuous events of Hadon, King of Opar.
The city and the characters have undergone some major changes, and the
wheels of intrigue continue to churn in unexpected ways. Hadon will
continue to be the protagonist, although his daughter La will play a
major role, as will his son Kohr and his stepdaughter Abeth.
Blood of Ancient Opar
was also announced for publication this year. The date changed to 2016.
You did not have enough time to write both for publication this year?
press release announcing the two novellas was written from the
convention hall floor at PulpFest, and if I recall correctly, I
don’t think we meant for it to say that both novellas would
released in 2015. In any case, soon thereafter, Meteor House secured
the rights to publish a Restored Edition of Flight to Opar
in 2015, and since I was to be the editor of that novel, it quickly
became apparent that it would be impossible for me to write both books,
edit a novel, and have them all be ushered through the production
schedule in the same year. So I’ll be writing Blood of Ancient Opar
this fall, and it should be available sometime in 2016.
an earlier interview I asked you if you planned to write more Khokarsa
stories. Your answer then was: “we’ll have to wait
see”. I ask the same question again this time.
original plans were to write a series from nine to twelve books. Have
you adopted these plans?
Right before I received the greenlight to write Hadon, King of Opar
and Blood of Ancient Opar,
I was gearing up to write a trilogy of novellas about Hadon’s
son, Kohr. This new cycle would again be based on an idea from
Farmer’s notes, and would be as inspired by H. Rider Haggard
the original Ancient Opar books were inspired by Burroughs. I will
probably work on a non-Khokarsa project after the two Ancient Opar
novellas are completed, but I do hope to be able to write that new
trilogy someday sooner than later if the stars align and Great Kho
gives me her blessing.
you very much for the interview, Chris!
See his website for more
information on his writing and on the Opar/Khokarsa series.
Opar / Khokarsa series
in Chronological Order