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Hadon, King of Opar --
Interview with Christopher Paul Carey
June 18, 2015

Christopher 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 Opar / 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 in The Worlds of Philip José Farmer Volume 1: Protean Dimensions - 2010), “Kwasin and the Bear God” (written with Farmer, published in The 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 series.
 
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?

Chris: Thanks for having me back, Rias. I’m not sure I’d describe 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 like the idea of working within a tradition. With the Khokarsa series, there’s a very clear chain of transmission running from Haggard 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 the “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.


Q: You 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?
 
Chris: 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, Kwasin, 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 to 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.


Q: Is 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 novella?

Chris: Hadon, 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 memorable with 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.


Q: What is the story about? Can you tell us a bit about the storyline?

Chris: 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 than that.

 
Q: You 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?

Chris: The publisher has an agreement with the Farmer estate that allows for the publication novellas set in Philip José Farmer’s 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 story arc of a full-length novel. Hadon, King of Opar is the first, which will be followed next year by Blood of Ancient Opar. 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.
 
 
Q: I 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, knowledge 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 Farmer.»
What are your feelings about this compliment?

Chris: 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..
 
 
Q: What will the next novella, Blood of Ancient Opar, be about? Who will be the protagonist?

Chris: 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.
 
 
Q: 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?

ChrisThe 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 be 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.
 
 
Q: In an earlier interview I asked you if you planned to write more Khokarsa stories. Your answer then was: “we’ll have to wait and see”. I ask the same question again this time. Farmer’s original plans were to write a series from nine to twelve books. Have you adopted these plans?

Chris: 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 as 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.


Thank you very much for the interview, Chris!

See his website for more information on his writing and on the Opar/Khokarsa series.

 
 
The Opar / Khokarsa series
Storyline in Chronological Order

Time's Last Gift
- by Farmer
Exiles of Kho
- by Carey
Hadon of Ancient
Opar
- by Farmer
Flight to Opar
- by Farmer
"A Kick in the
Side"
- by Carey
Forthcoming
(2016)
 
"Kwasin and the
Bear God"
- by
Farmer & Carey
The Song of
Kwasin
- by
Farmer & Carey
Hadon, King of
Opar
- by Carey
Blood of Ancient Opar - by Carey  

 
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© Zacharias L.A. Nuninga -- Page last updated: 18 Jun 2015