Barry Lyga graduated from Yale with a degree in English. He worked in the comic book industry before quitting to pursue his lifelong love of writing. He has published eleven novels in various genres in his seven-year career, including the New York Times bestselling I Hunt Killers. Lyga lives and writes in New York City. Visit him here.
NAW-When did your literary journey begin? At what age did you discover that you wanted to write?
I’ve wanted to write since I was about six or seven years old. I’m not sure where the desire came from, especially that young, and I don’t know what made me stick with it. That’s usually an age of whims and forgetting, but it stuck to me!
NAW- Tell us about your forthcoming book, ‘Blood of My Blood.’ How did you get the idea for it? How long did it take to finish the book? What is it about?
Well, BLOOD OF MY BLOOD is the final book in the I HUNT KILLERS series, so I guess you could say the idea came to me when the whole series occurred to me, way back in 2009. I’ve known since then how it would end, so I’ve spent several years working my way towards it through I HUNT KILLERS, GAME, and the prequel LUCKY DAY. In a very real way, it took me four years to finish it, since I had to write the rest of the series in order to get to it! But in terms of actual working time, I think it was about eight months. I don’t really keep track of how long it takes to write a book because it doesn’t really matter to me.
As to what it’s about: Well, it’s the conclusion of the series, so all questions are answered, all mysteries are resolved…and all debts are paid!
NAW- Tell us about your other works.
I’ve written a dozen other books, so if I told you about all of them, I’d be here all day! But one book that I’ve always felt strongly about is BOY TOY, my second book. It’s about a kid who’s had an affair with his teacher and the ramifications of this when she’s released from jail five years later. When it came out, people were very excited by it, but the sales weren’t great. Still, it found a second life in libraries and I’m always pleased when someone discovers it.
NAW- Why did you choose to write young adult fiction? But you write it with a twist, right? Some of your work is quite dark so how do you establish the right fit between the book and the negative elements?
I don’t write books FOR teenagers; I write books ABOUT teenagers. It’s a fine distinction, perhaps, but an important one to me — I don’t think of my audience as a teen. I think of my audience as someone — anyone — who is interested in reading about teens.
I don’t allow myself to worry about the negative elements. I trust my gut and I just tell the story in the most honest fashion I can.
NAW- How was it like working in the comics industry? Was that an inspiration for you to take up writing full time?
I worked very much in the background of the comics industry, so it was pretty much like any other job. Not terribly creative or romantic, I’m afraid. If I’d been on the creative end and not the marketing end, it might have been different.
I was already writing at that point, so being in comics didn’t inspire me to do so. I did try to write some comics at that point, but the results were…not good.
NAW- Do you carry out any research for developing your characters and your stories? How do you go about it?
Depending on the project, sure, there’s more or less research. For the I HUNT KILLERS series, for example, I spent about three months reading about police procedure, serial killer pathology, forensics, and so on. I also interviewed a detective and an FBI agent. For other books, there’s less research because there are fewer details. For example, for THE ASTONISHING ADVENTURES OF FANBOY & GOTH GIRL, I already knew about comic books, so there was very little research to conduct!
NAW- Which authors have influenced you?
I think we tend to be very influenced — even if we don’t realize it — by the things we experienced when we were younger. For me, that was a lot of comic books: Alan Moore, Paul Levitz. Also, sci-fi author Joe Haldeman. Oh, and the TV show TWIN PEAKS was an enormous early influence.
NAW- Tell us about yourself. What do you do when you are not writing?
I tend to write a lot and for very long stretches, so when I’m not writing, I try to relax and let my brain recharge. I read; I play video games. I also try to learn new skills, such as dabbling in learning Photoshop or coding.
NAW- Were you a rebel when you were young?
I don’t think so. That’s one of those things where if you say, “Yes,” the answer is probably really “No.” I tended to follow the rules and I rarely got in trouble, so that’s not terribly rebellious, is it? Then again, I was a kid from a hick town who said he wanted to go to Yale and be an author — that’s pretty rebellious, I guess!
NAW – Tell us about your literary journey. How easy (or difficult) was it to get your first book in print?
It was easy to get that first book into print — it happened in a matter of months. But here’s the thing: Getting to the point where I could write that first book took years and years of my life. The process of getting published is actually relatively simple; the tough part is producing something that’s actually worth reading. It took me decades of trying. I wrote four other novels and dozens of short stories before that first book clicked.
NAW- What is the one thing that your readers don’t know about you?
I think my readers know everything they need to know about me. There are no fun or outré bits I’ve been concealing.
NAW- What are your upcoming projects?
After BLOOD OF MY BLOOD, I’ve co written a novel titled AFTER THE RED RAIN with Peter Facinelli and Rob DeFranco. It’ll be out in the summer of 2015!