Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Author Barry Lyga. Called a “YA rebel-author” by Kirkus Reviews, Barry Lyga has published seventeen novels in various genres in his eleven-year career, including the New York Times bestselling I Hunt Killers. His books have been or are slated to be published in more than a dozen different languages in North America, Australia, Europe, and Asia.
After graduating from Yale with a degree in English, Lyga worked in the comic book industry before quitting to pursue his lifelong love of writing. He has written everything from slice-of-life, coming-of-age literary novels to bonkers superhero sagas, and loves them all equally. His latest book is called The Hive.
The first question I asked of Barry, of course, is: Where can people find your work?
Bookstores! Online! Probably in 50¢ bins at yard sales in a cul-de-sac near you!
How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?
barrylyga.com has more information than any human being could ever rightly need about me. If for some reason that’s not enough, I also shoot my mouth off on Twitter as @barrylyga.
For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you do? What can readers expect from you next work? (Latest cover, book, comic, movie, etc?) or what is the last thing you worked on?
The best way to think of my work is…chaotic. I’m all over the place. For example, I’ve written books about child sexual abuse (BOY TOY), but also books about kids with superpowers (the ARCHVILLAIN series). I wrote the origin of Thanos (THANOS: TITAN CONSUMED), but also a book about a kid who accidentally shot and killed his baby sister (BANG). I’m all over the map, and I love it that way. I love figuring out new, different kinds of stories and telling them in new ways.
What piece of advice would you want to share with other artists/authors?
The best advice I ever got was from a writer friend, very long ago, before I’d published my first novel. He told me “Just do it ’til it’s done.” I had been complaining about a book I was working on and he got exasperated with me and said, “Look, this isn’t rocket science or brain surgery. It’s a book. You know how to write; you’re a good writer. Just write the damn book! Just do it ’til it’s done.”
It’s very easy for us as writers to become too precious about what we’re doing or to overcomplicate it. I try to remind myself — it’s one word after another. There are no magic spells or special shortcuts. You just have to do the work. You have to sit down and do the work. Just do it ’til it’s done.
What else can we expect from you in the near future?
I have two more books in my FLASH “hexology” coming out, one in March, one in the fall. That will wrap up a big, sprawling, insane 6-part story I’ve been telling with my childhood icons in the DC Universe. Then, next year, I have TIME WILL TELL, which is a coming-of-age thriller (I think I might have just invented that!) about some kids who dig up a time capsule that their parents buried…and find evidence of a murder inside.
What does your work space look like? What do you need to have around you while working?
We moved into this house four years ago and I kept putting off organizing my office because there was always something else to do. But I finally just the other day cleared out a bunch of junk and started putting it in order. I have a nice big desk because I use a dual-monitor set-up and I need that space. And now I also have a very nice curio cabinet with a light kit to show off my geeky toys and collectibles.
The most important thing in the room, though, is my keyboard. It’s an ancient MacAlly iKey from 1999. I’ve had it for more twenty years and I’ve written every single novel on it, even as I upgraded computers. I am so afraid of it dying that a little while back I tracked down an in-box one on eBay and bought it, then stashed it away. This keyboard is the thing I need in order to write. After two decades, it’s like an extension of my fingers. I find it really, REALLY hard to type on anything else.
While you’re working, do you prefer music, silence, other? Please elaborate!
It depends on the project and on the stage in the process. When I’m revising or editing, I need silence so that I can let the logical side of my brain focus on the problem at hand. When I’m writing, though, I usually have some music playing. It helps distract and disconnect me from the surroundings and put me into a state where it’s easier to write. When I was working on TIME WILL TELL, I listened to a LOT of eighties music because part of the book is set in the 1980s. That really helped me get into the groove!
What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned, thus far, in your career as an artist/author?
No one knows what will make a book a hit. No one can guarantee that a book will be a hit. We’re all just crossing our fingers and hoping!