Harmony Book Reviews

Barry Lyga Interview

Posted on: June 17, 2009

Hero-Type by Barry Lyga: Book Cover

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)?

Joseph Campbell 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 Yellow Ribbon Fund or send care packages to servicepeople overseas. I have a friend who just returned from 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.)

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 The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl. 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.


10 Responses to "Barry Lyga Interview"

He was very ambitious! Nine and already submitting stories. That’s just plain awesome.

Great interview! I love the part about “inoculating them against the vast universe of suck that is adulthood.” I have only read Boy Toy so far, but I am going to pick up Mr. Lyga’s other books asap!

Oh, my God, this author rocks. I’ll probably carry that “Grow up well. Don’t suck.” line w/ me for a while. 🙂 I’ll try to do it justice.

Great interview!

Best life advice ever! I can’t wait for that MG series. 🙂

Great interview! I can’t wait until the other books come out!

Just because of how good the cover looks. makes me want to read this!

My friend recc’ed this author to me, and I can see why. He definitely has a sense of humor (though does he really want to work for DC Comics with all the comic continuity shenanigans they’re getting up to right now?)

awesome interview! i’m an absolute barry lyga fan:)
did you notice YA authors deliver the best and most interesting interviews?

I can’t wait to see the MG series about the kids with super powers!

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