Barry Lyga Interview
Posted June 17, 2009on:
1.) What was your inspiration for Hero-Type?
There was a whole profusion of inspirations for Hero-Type: The death of Pat Tillman, the horrendous impact of the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth, the upcoming (at the time) election. There was also, of course, the general course of heroism in America (rise, apotheosis, inevitable goof, followed by the public’s gleeful savaging of the former hero), to say nothing of that horrible feeling you get in high school when you just know that the girl you like doesn’t even know you exist. It all sort of blended together in my brain and somehow I decided that these elements made a single story.
2.) Hero-Type is full of controversy and could potentially become a very controversial book among readers. Have you ever received emails from readers upset by what you’ve written? What’s the crazy reader-response you’ve ever received?
Oh, sure· Some are upset because the book didn’t turn out the way they wanted it to. I always like those complaints because they’re not really complaints – they’re evidence that I did my job and got people to care enough that they’d subconsciously “written” their own endings.
In terms of crazy responses, Boy Toy definitely takes the gold medal. I’ve been accused of exploiting abused children, and one nutball recently came to my own web site to call me a pornographer.
As far as reactions to Hero-Type go, it’s strange – no one has bashed me for the politics of it, which I thought would be a no-brainer. One parent was upset because Kross has a gay mom, doesn’t get along with his dad, and smokes a little pot. In context, I don’t think that stuff is that big a deal, especially given the broader themes of the book. But hey – it takes all kinds.
3.) What is the typical day in your life like? Do you make yourself write every single day?
When I’m working on a project, I go every single day, with specific writing goals. Usually I wake up, check e-mail, waste a little time online while eating breakfast, then jump into work for a few hours. Then I hit the gym, then back to work.
I try to have a pretty punishing schedule when I’m writing, but when I’m not actively working on a project, I take it easy to compensate – lots of Xbox. 🙂
4.) What’s your advice to your readers (on life, writing, whatever)?
once said, “Follow your bliss.” Ernie John Zelinski said, “Hard is easy, and easy is hard.” I recommend both philosophies. I always tell kids that adults, basically, suck. I posted on twitter recently that I write for teens as a way of inoculating them against the vast universe of suck that is adulthood. So whenever I talk to a group of kids about “life,” my advice is always simple: “Grow up well. Don’t suck.” By which I mean, don’t live a life you hate just because the world/your parents think you should. Don’t do what’s “expected” of you. Zelinski’s advice basically means that if you take the easy path in life, you’ll actually end up with a life you hate. If you do the tough things, though, you’ll end up with a rewarding life.
5.)If you were given one million dollars to help save the world, how would you spend it? Is there any cause/organization you encourage your readers to support?
It’s a sad fact that a million bucks wouldn’t do much to save the world. I think I would try to identify some cause that a million dollars would impact materially. I asked readers of Hero-Type to donate to the Iraq, so that’s important to me. In fact, any profits from the Brookdale clothing on Cafepress will go to the Yellow Ribbon Fund. (The shirts are available at: http://www.cafepress.com/brookdaleshop.)or send care packages to servicepeople overseas. I have a friend who just returned from
In general, though, I don’t think it’s my place to tell my readers to support a cause or an organization. They can think for themselves.
6.) Name one random fact about yourself that most people don’t know.
At this point, given how I tend to ramble in interviews, I’m not sure what people do or don’t know about me! I’m pretty much an open book, no pun intended.
How about that I submitted my first story to DC Comics when I was around nine years old? Wrote it in pencil on lined paper. They never sent me a rejection letter, so I could get that call any day now…
7.) Finally, what can readers look forward to from you next?
Coming this fall is Goth Girl Rising, the sequel to . I never thought I would write a sequel to that book, despite the demand for one, but one day it just popped into my head and I had to do it.
After that: I’m working on a middle-grade series about a kid with super-powers. It’s something of a departure for me and I also think it’s very much not what people are expecting.
Of course, there will also be more young adult fiction. And possibly a graphic novel, if I can get my act together.