New Release Interview: Ex-Purgatory by Peter Clines


clines-ex-purgatoryShawn Speakman: EX-PURGATORY is in fine bookstores today. First tell Unbound Worlds readers about St. George and how he came to be?

Peter Clines: St. George actually began many years ago as a rough drawing by prepubescent me. When I was a kid I desperately wanted to work for Marvel Comics, and I made up tons of my own characters. The Dragon, as he was called then, could breathe fire and had stone-like skin to contain his heat. Pretty clever, huh? And he could glide because his skin was so hard that air couldn’t get through it…or something.

Hey, I was eleven, what do you want.

When I first started working on Ex-Heroes back in 2008, I dredged up the Dragon and tried to give him a bit of a polish. I came up with his real name of George Bailey, which tied him immediately to the idea of someone moral and heroic and also lent itself to St. George, the name people came to know him by.

Shawn Speakman: I’m reading STEELHEART by Brandon Sanderson right now and I love how he has created super villains. Why did you choose to create and work with superheroes?


Peter Clines: If I can grab a small soapbox for a minute, I’d like to make a little distinction. I think there’s a big difference between superhero stories and superpower stories. A lot of things are getting labeled as superhero stories these days because it’s a cool label that sells. But I think they’re two very different things. I’ve seen a lot of shows and stories get screwed up because people didn’t realize that difference.

Look at it this way. Carrie, Firestarter, and Doctor Sleep are all about people with psychic powers. So’s Escape to Witch Mountain. Henry Jekyll and John Griffin both made chemical formulas that gave them superpowers. We can go all the way back to the classics and pull out Hercules, Gilgamesh, the Green Knight, Daedalus, Perseus… all of them had superpowers or equipment that gave them superpowers. But we don’t think of any of these as superhero stories, right?

Anyway, (hopping off the soapbox) I didn’t want to write about people with superpowers. I wanted to write about superheroes—people who made a decision to publicly use their powers and abilities to help other people, no matter how crappy it might make their own lives. They aren’t doing it just to save someone close to them or to show off or to get even. It sounds stupidly obvious, but in my mind superheroes act heroically. Not in some overly huge way where there heroism needs to be explained, but in very basic ways.

Shawn Speakman: It is an interesting premise, the blurring of reality with the dream world. What is real and what is not? How far down does the rabbit hole go? Have you ever thought to yourself, “Am I living in a dream world?”

Peter Clines: Pretty much every day when I wake up and realize I’m doing this for a living now. I’m still about twenty percent sure this is some Jacob’s Ladder/ “Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” situation–I’m really back in college where I had a near-fatal car accident and all of this is the last four or five seconds of my brain fizzling out. Which would kind of suck, but at least I’m not being chased by faceless demons.


I’ve always loved stories that play with “what is real?” It’s kind of comforting and creepy all at the same time. And it’s a great chance to play with the whole nature vs. nurture idea. Would you and I still be writers in a world where QRS happened instead of XYZ, or would we be teachers or engineers or in the Army or…?

Shawn Speakman: Would we still be writers, indeed? What else is in store for St. George? Working on a fifth book in the series?

Peter Clines: Actually, yeah. Well, I’m working on something else first, but just before Christmas I signed a deal with Broadway for Ex-Isle. If all goes well, it might be out… next summer? ComicCon 2015? I don’t want to say too much about it yet, but like all the other titles, you can read it two ways and they both work. Which is getting harder and harder to pull off. And I’ve got a few ideas for after that, if anyone’s still interested at that point…

There you go! More superhero fun than you can shake a cape at! If you haven’t tried Peter’s work, definitely read Ex-Heroes! And if you have, there is a new book waiting for you titled Ex-Purgatory!

Learn more about Peter at!

speakman-shawnShawn Speakman is the author of The Dark Thorn, an urban/epic fantasy hybrid novel bestselling author Terry Brooks calls, “a fine tale by a talented writer.”

He is also editor and contributor of Unfettered, a fantasy anthology featuring some of the best writers in the genre. When Shawn isn’t lying for a living, he runs The Signed Page and Grim Oak Press.