Friday, April 12, 2013

Interrogation Room #28: Barry Lyga, Author of GAME

Today we're dragging Barry Lyga into the pressure cooker known as the Interrogation Room. If you're not familiar with his work, there is a gaping hole in your life. Having published 10 novels in 7 years (with another on the way in a few short days), he's a busy and elusive man. But not elusive enough to escape the Sleuths. 

We heard GAME, the sequel to his bestselling novel I HUNT KILLERS, is out on April 16th and available for pre-order now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and IndieBound. Of course, this development drew our attention. We've got questions. He's got answers. But first, a bit about GAME:

I HUNT KILLERS introduced the world to Jasper (Jazz) Dent, the son of the world's most infamous serial killer.

When a desperate New York City detective comes knocking on Jazz's door asking for help with a new case, Jazz can't say no. The Hat-Dog Killer has the Big Apple--and its police force running scared with no leads. So Jazz and his girlfriend Connie hop on a plane to the big city and get swept up in a killer's murderous game.
Meanwhile, Jazz's dad Billy is watching...and waiting.

Now, let's have a little chat with Mr. Lyga...

Prior to reading I HUNT KILLERS, I was a huge fan of BOY TOY and THE ASTONISHING ADVENTURES OF FANBOY AND GOTH GIRL. While both of those books have certain suspenseful elements, they don't have the same catch-a-killer tension of IHK. How did you come to write a high-concept murder mystery series?

First of all, thanks for being there from the beginning. And you know what? I think you've hit on something important -- there were suspenseful elements to those other books, even if they weren't explored in a sort of formal, genre-specific way. So I think if you draw a line from my first book or two up to I HUNT KILLERS, it's not quite as jagged and tangential as it might seem at first. For me, writing is all about the characters, so it was pretty natural to go from writing about "normal" kids with "normal" problems to someone with the kinds of issues Jazz has in I HUNT KILLERS. It's a difference of degree, not kind.

That said, I pretty much stumbled into writing the series. My editor and I were chatting about what I might work on next and she mentioned that she loved serial killer stories. I was intrigued by the idea of doing something like that in YA, but couldn't get around the idea of writing a teen actually torturing and murdering people in horrible fashion. But then I thought, "What if his father was the killer, instead?" and the entire story just blossomed in an instant.
Your hero, Jasper "Jazz" Dent, is the son and intended protege of the world's most infamous/horrific/successful serial killer. Having been raised by such a monster, Jazz has the ability to think like a killer--helpful, considering, you know, what he hunts. Yet, in the first book, he had concerns about turning to the dark side and following in his dad's foot steps. When we meet Jazz again in GAME, is he still having doubts, or is he firm in his conviction to stop killers, not be one?

The answer to that question is…yes. :) Jazz is a complicated guy, with complicated things going on in his life and in his head.

Let's put it this way (spoiler free!): Very, very early in the new book, Jazz does something that seems to put him on a particular path. But the world doesn't let him stay there.
This time around Jazz and Connie are headed to NYC to assist in a murder investigation. What inspired the move to the Big Apple? And, um, where the heck is Howie (Jazz's loyal, but fragile, best friend)? We got a lot of love for Howie here at SSA!

I moved (some of) the action to New York for a couple of reasons. First of all, I decided that the idea of yet another serial killer in a little town like Lobo's Nod would be sort of…ridiculous. One (Billy) was bad enough. Then his copycat (the Impressionist) shows up. Okay, fine. But a third? That's stretching things.

I also wanted to take Jazz out of his comfort zone. He's figured out how to get through the day in the Nod, so I wanted to yank that away from him and see how he would survive (or not) elsewhere.

And never fear, Howie-lovers! Jazz might be in the Big Apple for a while, but there's still plenty going on in the Nod, so you'll get to catch up with Howie, who's nuttier than ever.
What can you tell us about Jazz's latest quarry, the Hat-Dog Killer? And, is he/she Jazz's biggest problem in GAME? IHK seemed to indicate he might have some daddy issues to deal with this time around.

Well, it's safe to say that Hat-Dog is what Jazz THINKS is his biggest problem. Whether that turns out to be true or not, you'll only know when you read the book. As to daddy issues… This is Jazz! His whole life is daddy issues! I can promise you plenty of Billy-nastiness.
How far will this series go? Are we talking trilogy, a 10 novel epic that ends with Jazz profiling killers for the FBI, or a never-ending saga akin to Doctor Who where Jazz eventually chases killers through time and space? For the record, I'd be down for I HUNT ALIEN KILLERS.

I love the idea of Billy Dent with a sonic screwdriver, but I don't think it'll go on that long! There will be at least three books, possibly four. We'll see. Oh, and the prequel stories! Don't forget them. They don't necessarily tie into the mysteries, but they really give you intimate looks at the characters.
We've heard that ABC Family acquired the rights to develop I HUNT KILLERS as a television series. Can you share anything about that process? Are we close to tuning into Jazz's adventures on a weekly basis?

There's really nothing to report here. They're working on it. It's not at a stage where I'm directly involved right now -- a few months back, I spent some time with them putting in my two cents, and now they go off and do their thing. TV is a strange process. I don't spend a great deal of time thinking about it simply because there's nothing for me to do right now and there's no way for me to impact it at this point. Either the network will love what the production folks are putting together, or they won't. There are some really talented people working on it, so I feel like things are in good hands.

And believe me -- as soon as there's news, I'll be the first one to tell you!
There seems to be this thing in publishing that I call the "Boys don't" myth. As in "Boys don't read" and/or "Boys (as protagonists) don't sell". You've certainly proven the latter wrong, but I'm curious about your experience with readers. Do you find a lot of young, male readers excited about your work?

That's a more difficult question to answer than it should be, simply because so much interaction these days is online, and depending on someone's e-mail address or Twitter handle, it can be tough to tell if you're talking to a guy or a girl. Or even a kid or a grown-up! I notice that most of my contact is from girls, but honestly, I think that's just the nature of things -- I think a teen guy is much, much less likely to reach out to an author. When I hear about young male readers, it's usually from a mother or a girlfriend, reporting that her son/boyfriend/whatever read the book and loved it. I don't know why young guys don't reach out as much.
What's next for you, and where can readers find you?

Well, there's the third book in the KILLERS series, of course, and some other projects that are too early to discuss. Readers can find me at, on Facebook, and on Twitter (@barrylyga). Oh, and I'm also on Tumblr these days:
What writing secret will you reveal to us under the harsh light of the interrogation room lamp?

That there IS no secret. There's no magic spell. No potions. No tricks. You just sit down and you do it until it's done.
How do we know we can believe you?

You're kidding, right? I lie for a living! You can't believe anything I tell you!

Well, Barry, since you cooperated, I guess we have to let you go. Thanks for giving us the info we need. We can't wait to read GAME.

Be sure to pre-order your copy from your preferred bookseller: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or IndieBound

And if you're feeling lucky, enter our GAME giveaway. One winner will receive a free copy of Barry’s latest.

THIS JUST IN: Barry's on a mission to put the "Man" back in "Manicure". Check out the video below and do your part to make sure he has fancy fingernails for his upcoming college reunion.


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