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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Interview with Barry Lyga!

" What if the world's worst serial killer...was your dad?

Jasper (Jazz) Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.

But he's also the son of the world's most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could--from the criminal's point of view.

And now bodies are piling up in Lobo's Nod.

In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret--could he be more like his father than anyone knows?"

Where you can buy the book:

Do you have to travel/research much concerning your book(s)?
Not usually. I HUNT KILLERS is definitely the exception for me. I'm incredibly lazy, so I try to write books that requires as little research as possible. :) But for this series, we're living in the age of shows like CSI, and it seems like everyone out there knows things about blood spatter patterns and DNA matching and crime scene reconstruction. So I had to be sure to get the details right, which entailed several months of reading up on everything from the history of serial murder to modern forensic techniques to serial killer pathology. I also interviewed an emergency room doctor and spoke with NYPD detectives and an FBI agent.

When and why did you begin writing?
You know, the first writing I can remember doing was way back in elementary school. We always had these spelling exercises where we would be given a list of words and told to use each one in a sentence. I always tried to make my sentences relate to each other, to form a story. I don't know why. I guess I just thought it made an otherwise boring chore a little fun. That's the first thing I can remember doing that might qualify as "writing." By the time I was in middle school, I'd graduated to short stories, and by high school I was working on a novel. (Finished it, too. And, yeah, it sucked big time.)

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
I think surprise is a critical element. And I don't just mean in the sense of, say, a thriller where you find out who the killer is or learn about some exotic method of murder. I think that characters need to surprise readers somehow. In real life, people are rarely one-note and consistent; I think that should be reflected in fiction. Stories should zig when you think they're going to zag. Characters should say things that are unexpected and shocking, but which -- upon further reflection -- make perfect sense and are consistent with their actions. That's the way the real world works, after all, and I think the best fiction reflects and amplifies the real world.

How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
Yikes! I hope I don't use a formula! I start a book with a few essentials in mind, usually: The main character, the main character's central problem, the beginning of the story, the end of the story, and some emotional epiphany for the main characters. Then I start connecting dots between all of those things, often stumbling along, but usually managing to trip and fall into a story along the way. The characters and the plot develop naturally as I sort of play with the story, stretching it this way and that to see what happens. Then things start clicking and connections occur that I hadn't foreseen, but which -- in retrospect -- make perfect sense. I often tell people that I'm usually not sure what the story is until I've written it!

Can you share a little of your current work with us?
 I can do better than that -- I can share a LOT of it! Go to and can read the first 1/3 of the book (ten chapters) for free. Plus, you also get a bonus prequel short story -- "Career Day" -- at the same time.

What books do you look forward to reading this summer?
 It's going to be a pretty busy summer for me, but I'm looking forward to reading Paul Griffin's THE ORANGE HOUSES, which I haven't read yet, as well as INSIDE APPLE. And there's a stack of books near my computer that isn't getting any shorter -- I'm gonna make a big dent in that, too. :)

Thanks so much for taking time to answer my questions!

Happy Reading!



  1. "In real life, people are rarely one-note and consistent; I think that should be reflected in fiction."

    YES!! Love that line, I think it's so very true and one of the main things I look for when I'm reading. I loved his entire answer about the surprise element, and now I'm even more curious to read this one and see how things are going to zig when I think they're going to zag. Fantastic interview!

  2. I'm with Jenny on the line! I love it and it is expressed so perfectly!

    I also know how it feels to have a huge tbr! :) Still is nice to have so many at your disposal! Great interview!

  3. I LOVED I IHK and this interview is so fun! I think the element of surprise is critical in any book, but especially for thrillers like this one. :) Thanks for posting this, Savvy.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden


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