Nano Interview: Peter Clines

The series keeps rolling along with one of my favorite guys in the genre, Peter Clines.

DD: Thanks for plugging in, Peter! First off: can you tell us anything about the future or your EX-HEROES zombie/superhero franchise?

PC: Well, book five, Ex-Isle, just came out in February.  It’s got the heroes discovering a floating, man-made island out in the Pacific, so St. George, Zzzap, and Corpse Girl go out there to make contact with the survivors and... well, the folks out  there have some ideas of their own about what they think happened to the world.  And meanwhile, back home, Danielle’s dealing with the fact that she has to rebuild the Cerberus armor, which is forcing her to confront a lot of things about herself

I’ve been playing around with some ideas for a book six, and when I talked with my editor about it at San Diego Comic-Con he didn’t seem entirely horrified by the idea, so I think that’s going to happen.  My current title for it is Ex-Tension.  I’ve sketched out some basic ideas for it and I really like it.  This one’ll probably have more of Stealth and Captain Freedom, just because they didn’t get much time in Ex-Isle.

And I have a few slim ideas for one more after that, but I guess we’ll see what happens.  I’ve pretty much been writing every book in the series off the premise, “well, they’ll never let me do another one of these...”

DD: This year a new edition was released of your genre mash-up, THE EERIE ADVENTURES OF THE LYCANTHROPE ROBINSON CRUSOE. How did this concept form in your mind? Any challenges as you blended the worlds of Defoe and Lovecraft?

PC: That whole book was just one huge challenge. Back in 2009, when the idea of it first came up, the whole mash-up craze was just exploding.  But I didn’t want to do one of the jokey, tongue-in-cheek books that so many of those first mash-ups were. Not that there’s anything wrong with that—it’s just not what I wanted to write.  So I spent months researching the time period, reading and rereading the original book, studying Defoe’s style.  And I also threw myself into Lovecraft and reread a ton of stories.  Which turned about to be a lot of fun, because so often his stories refer back to this ancestor or those past events, and so many of them fell in the era Crusoe is set in.  It gave me lots of crossover space.

So, in the end, I like to think I write a perfect, early 18th century adventure-horror novel.  And the only real problem was that I’d written a perfect, early 18th century adventure-horror novel, which it turns out there wasn’t a huge market for.  So I was kind of caught off guard when Permuted Press said they wanted to re-release it, because it’s never exactly been a money maker (I’m not sure, but I think it still hasn’t earned back its fairly small advance).  But I’m very proud of the story, and the new edition is seriously gorgeous. Somebody there really did a knockout job with it.

DD: It's the zombie apocalypse, and you know you're done for. What's your last meal & beverage? (Don't say poison, that's cheating)

PC: “Done for” meaning dead, or just this is sort of game over for normal life?

Well, either way I’d probably get a nice pizza. Really, is there anything better than a hot-from-the-over thin crust with sausage, mushroom, and garlic?  It’ll either be a great last meal, period, or a great last meal before I’m eating watery oatmeal and dandelions for the next few years...
DD: Is there a book, game, film or TV series you'd love to see invaded by zombies?

PC: I’m really dying to see where they’re going to go with the “Zombie Nick” plot thread on Grimm. Does that count?  I don’t know.  A lot of my favorite shows already have zombies.  Game of Thrones has ‘em.  The Flash did a zombie episode. So did Bob’s Burgers.  iZombie is heading into major zombie apocalypse territory, based off how they ended last season.

Maybe Agents of SHIELD, because that would effectively bring the idea of zombies into the whole MCU.  They’re going to have Ghost Rider this season, so if they’re embracing the supernatural maybe they could do a Simon Garth nod?  That’d be pretty cool, and maybe give them another way to tie in to Doctor Strange.

DD: Anything you'd like to see more (or less) of in zombiedom?

PC: Honestly, the one thing I got tired of really fast would be what I’d call the “prepper confirmation” trope.  The one where Bob has either always been a prepper or randomly decided to become one last month, and so he’s completely ready for it when the zombie apocalypse comes.  Like, obscenely prepared.  The story only exists to show how right people with this mindset are.  Everyone else was wrong, they were right, ha-ha, showed you all, bow down and worship me as your savior now.  The main character has no needs, no dangers, no fears, no... nothing.  If I’ve got someone who’s uber-prepared and capable, there’s no threat, and that means there’s no stakes. And that’s just boring.

It’s frustrating to me because I’ve seen some fantastic stories that subvert that trope.   C. Dulaney has The Plan, where the main characters have this really solid survival scheme which starts unraveling on day one.  Eloise Knapp has The Undead Situation, where the main character, Cyrus, thinks he’s a badass but the reader quickly realizes all he did was stock up on snacks, candy, and pet food.   Tim Long did it in his Beyond the Barriers books, too, where he has a totally capable guy who just gets caught flat footed. That’s all so much more interesting to me. 

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