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Ex-Heroes Paperback – February 20, 2010

528 customer reviews
Book 1 of 4 in the Ex Series

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Editorial Reviews Review

Q&A with Peter Clines

Peter Clines

Q. You grew up in Stephen King territory in Maine, yes? Did that make you into a zombie fan at an early age?

A. Well, I was at the southern edges of Mr. King’s fallout zone. It’s a little town called Cape Neddick, a little tourist place on the coast, and someone told me once that the population was ten times bigger in the summer than in the winter. And to be honest, I was terrified of everything as a kid. Land of the Lost gave me nightmares. Heck, there was an episode of Fantasy Island that gave me nightmares. I was right there when King’s career really exploded, but his books terrified me. I finally worked up my courage to read one of his short stories, “The Boogeyman,” when I was twelve or so, and to this day I can’t sleep with the closet door open. The original Ghost Rider comics were my first tentative steps into horror, and even some of those freaked me out. My love of the genre really blossomed in college.

Q. Have you always wanted to be a writer?

A. Well, to quote George Carlin, not in the womb, but right after that . . . yeah. I can remember making scenes with my Star Wars figures and adjusting them all each night as their story progressed. In third grade I hand-wrote a “novel” that I called Lizard Men from the Center of the Earth, which was about . . . well, guess. Once I discovered my mom’s old Smith-Corona typewriter it was all over. I spent all my free time writing comic books and some truly awful Boba Fett fan fiction before there was such a term. I even made some early attempts at novels. One of the great tragedies of American literature is that our garage flooded in high school and all of that was destroyed. (It’s not really a tragedy . . .)

Q. It sounds like you were—no offense—kind of a comic geek when you were a kid?

A. When I was a kid, yeah. And a teenager. And a college student. To be honest, writing comic books was my big goal when I was little. My first rejection letters are from Jim Shooter—then Marvel’s editor in chief—because I would send him some of those (in retrospect) really God-awful stories every other month. With cover art. This is back when I was maybe ten or eleven. He was amazingly polite to a stupid kid. On one level, Ex-Heroes was my chance to finally write the kind of heroes I grew up with.

Q. Do you have a favorite superhero?

A. I’m a long-time Spider-Man fan. I started collecting The Amazing Spider-Man when I was about nine or ten and kept with it for years. I’ve got one of those big longboxes just filled with issues. I finally got so frustrated, though, with Marvel’s big “Civil War” promotion, and especially how they resolved it. When Spider-Man made a deal with the devil to erase half his life, including his wife and best friend . . . well, I was done.

Q. It sounds like you’re not really interested in comics now, though. What do you think about mainstream comics these days?

A. Tough question. I am a bit disillusioned with the big two comic publishers. To be clear, I don’t think there’s a problem with using the medium of comics to tell more dramatic, adult-themed stories. The Sandman, The Walking Dead, Unknown Soldier—these are all fantastic stories by great writers. My problem is when this sort of storytelling gets pushed onto characters like Spider-Man or Superman or Captain America, because “dramatic” becomes shorthand for “really messed up.” I think it detracts from these classic characters to push them into molds they weren’t meant to fill, and those stories tend to just come across as pointless melodrama. Characters have six-page soliloquies about the nature of heroism rather than just doing something heroic. I’ve seen people try to do “realistic” stories with the Hulk . . . a character who got his powers by standing next to a nuclear bomb when it went off. These elements can be a nice polish on a story, but there’s also a point where they have no business being used. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the industry has been struggling so much since this type of storytelling became the norm.

Q. When you moved to California you ended up working in the film industry for almost fifteen years. What kind of work did you do there?

A. I was a property master—the person who deals with hand props—on a lot of television shows and movies. I worked on a lot of cult things like one of the Beastmaster movies, Veronica Mars, and a bunch of lesser-known stuff. I’m actually the murderer in Psycho Beach Party for most of the movie. I prop-mastered Helen Mirren’s directorial debut, and she told me I looked like the type of person who should be sitting on the porch of a southern plantation writing novels.Also, I was writing scripts on the side. People looked at some of my feature scripts and television episodes, and I made the final round in a bunch of screenplay contests. All this industry experience led to a job writing articles for Creative Screenwriting magazine, which I did for several years. I interviewed George Romero, Kevin Smith, Sylvester Stallone, Orci & Kurtzman, and dozens and dozens of other writers and directors.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


Combining pop culture, superheroes and zombies... One of the best genre blenders I have ever read. --James Melzer, author of ESCAPE

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 274 pages
  • Publisher: Permuted Press (February 20, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934861286
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934861288
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (528 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #908,298 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Peter Clines grew up in the Stephen King fallout zone of Maine and--inspired by comic books, Star Wars, and Saturday morning cartoons--started writing at the age of eight with his first epic novel, LIZARD MEN FROM THE CENTER OF THE EARTH.

He made his first writing sale at age seventeen to a local newspaper, and at the age of nineteen he completed his quadruple-PhD studies in English literature, archaeology, quantum physics, and interpretive dance. In 2008, while surfing Hawaii's Keauwaula Beach, he thought up a viable way to maintain cold fusion that would also solve world hunger, but forgot all about it when he ran into actress Yvonne Strahvorski back on the beach and she offered to buy him a drink. He was the inspiration for both the epic poem "Beowulf" and the motion picture -Raiders of the Lost Ark-, and is single-handedly responsible for repelling the Martian Invasion of 1938 that occurred in Grovers Mills, New Jersey. Eleven sonnets he wrote to impress a girl in high school were all later found and attributed to Shakespeare. He is the author of numerous short stories, EX-HEROES, EX-PATRIOTS, --14--, THE EERIE ADVENTURES OF THE LYCANTHROPE ROBINSON CRUSOE, and an as-yet-undiscovered Dead Sea Scroll.

There is compelling evidence that he is, in fact, the Lindbergh baby.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

144 of 154 people found the following review helpful By Justin G. TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 11, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ex-Heroes, the debut novel from Peter Clines, offers a new spin on the typical zombie story. Set in modern times, a zombie outbreak has ravaged the earth and only a handful of superheroes have kept the situation in Los Angeles from deteriorating into total chaos. Reeling from losses in their own community, a band of heroes has established a fortified safe zone in Hollywood to help whatever survivors they find. Unfortunately so has a much larger group of gang members, who have some deadly tricks up their sleeves.

Now, mixing superheroes and zombies isn't an entirely new concept, but unlike Marvel Zombies, Ex-Heroes takes the idea seriously and is a story you can actually believe. Ex-Heroes reads like a mix of Watchmen (or maybe Heroes) and Land of the Dead. It's more of a big screen movie type story than the typical tale of survival horror, but I mean that in the best possible way. Clines's story of very human, very flawed heroes trying to maintain order in a post-apocalyptic situation seems very realistic and would make a terrific movie. I love how the book is split between "then" and "now" chapters, with the "then" chapters told from the perspective of a different hero and chronicling the developing crisis.

Clines has come up with a fascinating cast of characters who, despite being superheroes, all seem like real people.
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Patrick S. Dorazio VINE VOICE on March 20, 2010
Format: Paperback
It's always potential fun when someone tries to tie two popular genres together, but often time the fun ends once you get to see the end result and realize that what you have is a mishmash of ideas that never really mixed well. Not so here, with Ex-Heros. Peter Clines has created a very plausible set of superheros facing the zombie apocalypse and doing what they do best: saving the world. Its certainly a struggle for them, as there is no way to stop the zombie menace, but they've focused on creating a safe haven in Los Angeles at Paramount studios, aka The Mount, which is the most easily defensible place where they could bring hundreds to thousands of survivors. Opposed to them are the Seventeens, an old LA Gang that essentially controls the rest of LA, with their mysterious leader.

The story is told by switching back and forth from the present to the past, with each flashback done in first person and told from the perspective of a particular superhero. The story is given the opportunity to slowly reveal itself this way and had a flavor of Watchmen to it that really worked in this setting. Our superheros aren't perfect-often they are sullen and none too happy with the people they are protecting, who don't necessarily trust them. In addition to this, some of the superheros have fallen to the Ex virus, which started the zombie apocalypse in this story, and while they are not quite as powerful as they once were, they still present a sizable threat to both the human and superhero population in the story.

Clines does an excellent job of creating unique and believable hero's for this tale, with The Great Dragon leading the pack.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Michael Gardner on November 7, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

Ex-Heroes is one of the best zombie books that I've ever read. This story is a great example of how you can cross genres and do it right. There have been many other "mashups" that were just plain bland, throwing in factors from two different elements just to do so. Ex-Heroes is not the case.

Peter Clines weaved, in my opinion, a very plausible apocalyptic scenario here. Granted, suspension of disbelief is tested greatly when it comes to zombies, but it runs the gamut with a plot such as this; where you have superheroes thrown into the mix. That said, I never once found this book to be unbelievable. The heroes are flawed. The humans are flawed. The best part, to me, is that the zombies are plentiful, but not the main focus. They exist in the background, which allows character development to be at the forefront. And, on top of that, dark humor is thrown in there (who's killed which celebrity zombie), and it just adds to the vast pleasantries Ex-Heroes has to offer.

The plot is rather enjoyable. Humans are holding up in the Mount in the middle of the city, and the superheroes watch over them and do what they can to protect everyone, always thinking about the betterment of the majority instead of the minority. But this isn't the only group of survivors. A local gang is expanding, and they want what's within the Mount. This faction is led by a man who has a special power himself, and it is one for the books. I'll not give that away, however. You'll have to discover that treat on your own. One of the more enjoyable parts for me is the tension within the Mount. Not everyone enjoys having the superheroes around, and quite a few share their distaste.

Ex-Heroes reads more like Watchmen, with the jumping between past and present.
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