We recently spoke with William Patrick Murray, who is currently writing the further adventures of iconic period characters Tarzan of the apes and Doc Savage. Altus Press is publishing his latest book, 'Tarzan: Conqueror of Mars,' features two of Edgar Rice Burroughs' most famous literary creations -- Tarzan and John Carter of Mars.
When did you start this book?
Tarzan, Conqueror of Mars is probably the most challenging book I've ever written. And not just because of the complicated challenges of including two strong heroes in one adventure. As I recall, I wrote the first 24 chapter in eight days flat at the end of April, 2018. I thought to myself: This is going to go fast. Ha ha. Then I came down with a bug that led to walking pneumonia. That knocked me out for two or three months. After that, I had to clean out and sell the Murray family home. Three more months went down the drain. Then I got sick again. By the time I got back into the book, it was at the end of January, 2019. It took another six months to finish writing the story, then even more time getting final approval from Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. to publish. Just when everything was coming together, my cover artist had to bow out. Fortunately, he recommended the perfect replacement, Romas Kukalis. He gave us a fabulous cover fast––and we got a wraparound painting out of it. So that worked out.
When will it be released?
We finally released the softcover in January, 2020. The ebook is coming out any minute. I imagine the hardcover edition will be out in February.
Is it an original story? I once read that Burroughs actually planned a crossover between the Tarzan and Mars series.
Yes, this is my original story. I don't know the details, but Edgar Rice Burroughs once contemplated having Tarzan meet John Carter, but gave up on the idea because he couldn't figure out how to include his two strongest heroes in one story. I suspect his problem was deciding who the central hero would be. My solution was to make this a Tarzan story, with John Carter taking a subordinate but extremely important role. After all, he's the Warlord of all Barsoom. Hint: Tarzan and John Carter do not get along very well.
Will Tarzan have further adventures on Mars or other Planets?
I came up with what I thought was an excellent plot for a sequel. And I'd like to write it. But neither I nor Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. have as yet committed to going ahead with it. I'd like to see how sales on Tarzan, Conqueror of Mars go first. But I have a very exciting and original idea, and quite different from this one. Beyond saying that John Carter might visit Africa, I will say no more.
Will other Burroughs characters such as Barney Custer emerge in these stories?
I contract for these books one at a time and I have no long- range plan. If I do a sequel, I don't think I would drag in any other characters. But I can't rule it out, either. The new Edgar Rice Burroughs Universe series of interlocking books is going to include a lot of crossovers and planet hopping, I understand. The first release, Matt Betts' Carson of Venus: The Edge of All Worlds, will be out this month, followed by Tarzan: Battle for Pellucidar. It's a very exciting development, unifying the ERB Universe on a scale not even Burroughs could imagine.