Take Five with Peter Clines, Author, ‘Ex-Heroes’


Peter Clines is the contributor for this week’s Take Five, a regular series where we ask authors and editors to share five facts about their latest books. Clines is the author of Ex-Heroes, available now:

Stealth. Gorgon. Regenerator. Cerberus. Zzzap. The Mighty Dragon. They were heroes, using their superhuman abilities to make Los Angeles a better place.

Then the plague of living death spread around the globe. Billions died, civilization fell, and the city of angels was left a desolate zombie wasteland.

Now, a year later, the Mighty Dragon and his companions protect a last few thousand survivors in their film-studio-turned-fortress, the Mount. Scarred and traumatized by the horrors they’ve endured, the heroes fight the armies of ravenous ex-humans at their citadel’s gates, lead teams out to scavenge for supplies—and struggle to be the symbols of strength and hope the survivors so desperately need.

But the hungry ex-humans aren’t the only threats the heroes face. Former allies, their powers and psyches hideously twisted, lurk in the city’s ruins. And just a few miles away, another group is slowly amassing power . . . led by an enemy with the most terrifying ability of all.

Peter Clines:

1 – I made up most of the superheroes in Ex-Heroes long before I started writing the book. Most of them were made up when I was between the ages of eight and thirteen. I had dozens of sketches, index cards describing their powers, and handwritten pages describing their origins. To be clear, they were all awful and exactly what you would
expect someone between the ages of eight and thirteen to create.

2 – All of my old childhood creations were male, including Stealth, Cerberus, and Banzai. As a very young boy, the whole idea of female superheroes made no sense to me. I didn’t know any girls who read comics, and why would boys want to read about women in spandex fighting crime? Hey, I was ten. So when I sat down to write Ex-Heroes, part of the polish all these heroes got included a bit of gender swapping to balance things out and make the cast more interesting.

3 – In the book, the superheroes have turned a film studio into a fortress for the survivors. That studio happens to be the first place I ever set foot in Los Angeles. I was living in San Diego and got an offer to pitch a few script ideas to Ron Moore. I drove up to LA, found the studio, and stepped out of my car in the parking lot that—in the book—became the giant garden.

4 – My friend Ilya was working at said studio while I was writing the book. He’s a huge zombie fan, so one day we had lunch and he used guest maps to highlight weak defensive areas, point out key resources and structures, and explain how he’d improve the defensive capabilities of the walls. I still have that highlighted map pinned up over my desk. In return, Ilya got a character named after him in the story.

5 – All the titles in the series can be read two ways. Which is getting harder as the series goes on.