Interview: Garth Nix

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

I found a very battered and ancient paperback of THUVIA, MAID OF MARS in a friend’s parents’ bookshelf when I was about twelve.

What do you find appealing about the characters and milieu?

I loved the adventure and the baroque, over-the-top details with radium rifles that could shoot for miles, and ultra-fast flyers and all the different kinds of martians.

What sort of an influence do you think the Barsoom books have had on the development of fantasy & science fiction?

I’m sure that the books have influenced many later writers, and can be considered as part of the broad foundation of most fantasy adventure stories of the later 20th century and beyond.

Who is your favorite character in the Barsoom canon? (And why?)

I have a fondness for Tars Tarkas, who is smarter and more ironic than he initially appears. Also, he is a fifteen-foot tall fighting machine with four arms. What’s not to like about that?

Tell us a bit about your story in the anthology. What’s it about?

My story is about an unknown sidekick of John Carter, a young Union veteran of the Civil War who is also transported to Mars and ends up working for John Carter, but as in much real history, is written out of the ‘official’ story.

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

While I love the Barsoom books, I always thought John Carter himself would be a bit of a pain in the ass to be around, so I thought I’d write a story giving another, more normal Earth human’s view of Barsoom and Carter.

Was this story a particularly challenging one to write? If so, how?

There were a few minor challenges, the main one being that I imperfectly remembered some details from the books, so I had to go back and re-read PRINCESS OF MARS and some of the other books.

What kind of research–other than, perhaps, rereading the Barsoom novels–did you have to do for the story?

In addition to some re-reading, I also had to check up some American Civil War history, a few dates, and details of weapons and money and so on.

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

My next book is my first science fiction novel for a long time (as opposed to fantasy), the YA space opera A CONFUSION OF PRINCES, out in April 2012 from HarperCollins (US and UK) and Allen & Unwin (Australia & NZ).