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Monday, February 15, 2016

Interview with Peter Clines (Interviewed by Peter Clines)

Official Author Website 
Order Ex-Isle HERE 
Read Fantasy Book Critic Interview with Peter Clines 
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of Ex-Heroes 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Ex-Patriots 
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of Ex-Communication 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Ex-Purgatory
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Ex-Isle
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Junkie Quatrain 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of 14 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Fold
Read I See Dead People by Peter Clines (Guest Post) 

Q] Welcome to Fantasy Book Critic. For someone who hasn’t read any of your novels, how would you describe your writing style and what book would you recommend giving a try first?

PC: Hmmmm. Goofy, maybe? Slipshod? I see those descriptions used a lot...

I don’t know. I like characters people can identify with. I like good dialogue. I’m a big believer that most people end up laughing at something every day, even if it’s wildly inappropriate. The same with flirting. I like crossing genre lines. I think creepy has a much longer-lasting affect than gore, action’s almost always better fast than over-detailed, and that most romances tend to be odd rather than storybook.

And that’s the kind of stuff I like to write.

I’d guess a good starter book for me would be The Fold. It’s about a government teleportation project gone wrong, and I found out a few weeks ago that it’s on the preliminary ballot for the Stoker awards. It’s set in the same universe as another book I wrote a few years ago called 14, and that was pretty popular with folks, too.

Q] Currently, the Ex-Heroes series is going strong with five volumes. How many more volumes do you plan to write?

PC: I don’t know. As many as people want to read? I have definite hopes for a sixth book, and some pretty solid ideas for a seventh. Maybe the barest bones of an eighth, but that’s still pretty flimsy.

Q] Will this be long enough to tell the story you want and what was your original plan for the series?

PC: To be honest, I didn’t really have any plans for a series. I wrote Ex-Heroes as a stand-alone novel, because I knew there’s a better chance of selling a one-off than a whole series. Of course, if people like the one-off it almost immediately becomes a series, so...

Anyway, I think there’s potential in this world for a few more. I think it’s much more of an ongoing series at this point than a trilogy-pentalogy-septology sort of thing.

Q] Ex-Isle has an enhanced focus on Cerberus and Corpse girl, aside from the usual leads. Was this a planned move? Which other characters might be getting this treatment for the future volumes?

PC: Yeah, it was deliberate. The first three books tended to focus on St. George and Stealth, and the fourth was pretty much all him. So I knew in this one I wanted to bring some of the other characters out a little more.

There was one new character I wanted to bring into Ex-Isle, but I wasn’t even halfway through the first draft and it was pretty clear she was only there to be there, if that makes sense. She’s probably going to show up in the next book, though, and some of the characters that didn’t do much in this book are going to have bigger parts in that one.

How’s all that for horribly vague...?

Q] Ex-Isle ends with several world revelations. Does this mean that our heroes will be going further out in the sequels yet to come?

PC: A little. One thing this book taught me is that it’s tough for them to get any real distance away. I also don’t want to be one of those people writing about, say, Japan or England who’s clearly never been there. There’s only so much you can learn about a place by reading vs. actual travel vs. living somewhere. There’s a reason so many of my stories tend to be in either southern California or New England.

The next book, if it happens, is going to see them heading north a bit. I’ve been toying with the idea of taking them down to San Diego if there’s a seventh book. Past that... maybe I’ll write off a trip to England. Or get invited to a con there.

Q] As I was reading this book, I strongly visualized the story and that got me thinking about the entire series being adapted as a TV series? What are your thoughts on that and whom would you cast as the various characters?

PC: I’d love it, of course. Who wouldn’t? A friend of mine once joked that she’d love it if Hollywood gave her half a million dollars and ruined her book. Will it happen...? I don’t know. There’ve been some casual talks, but nothing much past that. Truth is, folks in Hollywood rarely like to take risks, and non-Marvel or DC superheroes don’t have a great track record at the box office. Or on television. Or on streaming services. Add in the fact that these superheroes aren’t even from a comic book (whaaaaat???) and the odds don’t look great. We’ll see, I guess.

As for a cast... well, if I could go with anyone, I tend to picture St. George looking a lot like Zachary Levi or John Krasinski (just a bit blonder and shaggier). I could easily see Freema Agyeman or Zoe Saldana as Stealth. Keith Powell would be a fantastic Zzzap, but so would Donald Glover. Lauren Ambrose would make a great Danielle/ Cerberus. Somebody pointed out that Jamal Duff is already Captain Freedom. Ariel Winter could be amazing as Madelyn, the Corpse Girl.

Q] Talking about last year’s The Fold, the plot has an intriguing protagonist, Mike Erickson who has a special condition. How did you come up with Mike? What were your inspirations for the creation of his character?

PC: I’ve always loved the idea of super-intelligence. People whose minds just move up by several orders of magnitude. There are books like Flowers for Algernon or The R-Master, or things like Limitless or that Fringe episode where the guy would cause carnage just by balancing pens in certain places. And then adding photographic memory into the mix just made it even more fun.

Oddly enough, though, one of the big inspirations came from an article I read years and years ago. It interviewed a bunch of high-IQ folks all over the country, and one of the most telling things was that they all had this kind of sadness to them. Not morose or anything, but none of them really seemed all that happy. Granted, it may have just been the spin of the article, but it stuck with me—that having all these abilities could be just as much a curse as a gift.

Q] The Fold very much reads like an old-school mystery and Mike is a gumshoe of a cerebral kind (literally). Even though the story is SF in its plot, I loved how the mystery played out. Was this an intentional move on your part?

PC: Oh, yeah. Sci-fi and mystery have a long, happy history together. How many episodes of Star Trek (all the versions) are about “why is this happening?” I mean, that’s what science is—people using their minds to find answers.

Past that, I think a good mystery always draws people in to a story. How many of us watch shows like Elementary or Castle and end up comparing notes during the commercials? So I knew a big part of The Fold would be figuring out the mystery, but also Mike figuring out just what is the actual mystery going on here.

Q] The Fold is set in the same world as 14. Is there a plan for a proper sequel to feature the protagonists of both books? I would love to see Mike and Veek interact with each other.

PC: Maybe. Well, I’d love to do one, it just comes down to scheduling and interest. I have a couple of ideas that I think would be pretty fun. Nothing’s planned out past two or three pages of notes, though. If it works as I hope, it might serve as a sequel to both books.

Again, though, quite a ways off. At least a year or so. We’ll have to see what happens.

Q] Previously you have mentioned your next book will be a standalone and the pitch being “It’s kind of like Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere crossed with Cannonball Run.” What can you tell us about its release? And can you reveal something more about it in terms of its plot, characters, etc?

PC: Yeah, I’m closing in on the end of that now. You know I don’t like giving a lot away, but... really simply, it’s about a little boy in a small town named Eli who meets an older teenager named Harry. Harry dresses in Revolutionary war clothes and drives a converted Model T Ford with a hydrogen engine. And Eli keeps running into Harry every couple of years—but Harry doesn’t seem to change (although, as he gets older, Eli does eventually realize Harry is a young woman not a young man). As an adult, he learns Harry might be in trouble, and decides to venture out of his small town and try to find her and warn her.

And then things get odd!

Q] You like to read quite a bit within the SFF genre like any other fan, are there any recent books that you would like to recommend for our discerning readers?

PC: Hmmmm. Everything I’ve been reading lately is either from almost a year ago or isn’t going to be out for another few months. Finally read Experimental Film by Gemma Files and The Darwin Elevator by Jason Hough (about to sit down with his Zero World). Recently read Alight by Scott Sigler and The Voodoo Killings by Kristi Charish—they’re both out later this year and they’re fantastic.

Q] Thank you very much for your time and for answering all the questions. What would like to pass on to your fans both old and new?

PC: Many thanks, as always, for having me.

What to pass on? Hmmmm... I finally got on Twitter (@peterclines), about five years late, but so far my cat has way more followers than I do. In all fairness, though, he is a lot more entertaining on a day-to-day basis.


C.T. Phipps said...

Great interview! I look forward to more Ex-Heroes books! More Cerberus in particular.

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