Last year, with the launch of the Rains Brothers, an alien-meets-zombie series from Tor Teen, Gregg Hurwitz, author of the bestselling Orphan X series for adults, made his YA debut. This October Hurwitz continues the series with Last Chance, in which his teenage characters become humanity’s only hope of survival as they fight an alien threat that’s transforming everyone over the age of 18 into ferocious, zombie-like beings.

With 16 adult thrillers to his credit, Hurwitz might seem an unlikely YA author. “I’d written comics [Punisher and Wolverine for Marvel and Batman and Penguin for DC Comics] for a lot of years, so I was already writing for a mixed crowd,” he says. “My daughters were getting older, but weren’t old enough for my adult thrillers. So I wanted to write something for them to read—a series about kids on their own who feel that every adult in the world is set against them.”

Hurwitz also strove to write the kind of old-fashioned adventure stories he grew up reading—Kidnapped, Swiss Family Robinson, the Hardy Boys, and the novels of Jack London—“stories with values like loyalty, strength, and courage in the face of the unknown.” He set out to write “a modern take on those stories, in which both boys and girls are represented. I wanted these to be books that would really stick in the hands of young readers—something gruesomely engaging—so almost every chapter has a cliff hanger, and I kept an eye on the pacing.”

Hurwitz, who says he is “miserable to be around if I don’t write every day,” describes himself as “naturally caffeinated.” That is likely helpful when you’re a writer moving back and forth among novels, short stories, TV, and feature films. (The Book of Henry, for which he wrote the screenplay, will be released by Focus Features on June 16.) “I’ve always had a thing that I can’t say ‘no’ to writing something that’s fun,” he says. “I find I can work on colliding deadlines, since it’s never about my plate being too full. I can go vertical and start stacking plates up to the ceiling.”

Today, 4–5 p.m. Gregg Hurwitz joins V.E. Schwab, Cora Carmack, and Susan Dennard for the panel “The YA/Adult Crossover,” in Room 1E16.

Today, 5:15–6:15 p.m. Hurwitz signs in the Autographing Area.