Interview: Chris Claremont

How did you first come to discover the Barsoom books by Edgar Rice Burroughs?

I started reading John Carter roughly the same time and same way I started with Tarzan — and pretty much everything else that was cool that I could get my young hands on — carrying the books home from the weekly Book-Mobile when I was growing up on Long Island. Reading was my way of broadening the horizons available to me in the New York suburbs — from Burroughs to Heinlein to C.S. Forester to H.G. Welles to Steinbeck to Shakespeare to Stan Lee — and have a whole lot of fun in the process.

What was the genesis of the story–where did the initial seed for the story come from?

The genesis is simple. Many years ago, when Marvel had the rights to produce comics built around Burroughs’ characters, I was writing John Carter. I had this great story in mind, a one-year saga involving John, Dejah Thoris and Tars Tarkis being transported to Earth. But, sadly, the series got cancelled before I could turn the concept into reality. Jump ahead to the 21st Century and all of a sudden I have the opportunity to dust off the old idea and bring it to life — cut down to a more suitable size, of course. (On the other hand, that’s why the story’s entitled “Chapter 11;” there’s more before this moment and lots to follow — but those are stories for another time!) As I learned long ago, throw nothing away — because you never know when the idea that didn’t work one day becomes perfect for the next.

Any new work of yours just out or forthcoming you’d like to mention, or anything else you’d like to add?

At the moment, I’ve just turned in a YA dark fantasy novel, Wild Blood, to my agent, and am just starting an adult suspense-adventure collaboration with another writer on a concept of mine, set in modern China, along the Silk Road. And there’s yet another novel, likely also YA adventure-suspense, sidling up to the launch-pad.