Author Spotlight: Barry Lyga
December 22, 2017
Today we are pleased to feature YA and MG author and graphic novelist Barry Lyga and his new MG novel, THE FLASH: HOCUS POCUS, cover created by with original covers created by fan-favorite artist César Moreno, known for his limited-edition pop-culture posters (The CW and Amulet Books).
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Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for teens and children.
I sort of stumbled into YA and middle grade, honestly! I’d been trying to write an adult horror novel and a friend of mine said, “These characters don’t sound like adults — they sound like teenagers. Have you ever thought of writing YA?” I thought about it a bit and then the idea for my first novel — THE ASTONISHING ADVENTURES OF FANBOY AND GOTH GIRL — popped into my head. I haven’t looked back since!
Congrats on your many best-selling books. Tell us about THE FLASH: HOCUS POCUS and how you approached writing this story. Were you a fan of the comics and/or the TV show?
I’ve been a fan of the show since it started and a fan of the character since I learned how to read! It was a dream come true to be asked to write these books. I approached it with the idea that I wanted to be faithful to the show AND the comics, blending my love and enjoyment of both.
THE FLASH: HOCUS POCUS is set in a timeline where Flashpoint never happened. How familiar did you have to be with the Flash storyline/canon to write this story? How was writing this different from your other novels?
Well, even though this takes place in an alternate timeline, the characters are still the same people from Seasons 1 and 2. I had to balance that with the fact that since there was never a Flashpoint, they would all be at least a little bit different. Cisco didn’t lose his brother, for example, and Caitlin never became Killer Frost, so they’re slightly different people than the ones you see on TV every Tuesday night. It’s a delicate balancing act, but I love it! As to how it’s different from my other novels: Well, I’m playing in someone else’s sandbox. I have to bear in mind that these characters aren’t mine; they belong to someone else. I’m just borrowing them for a little while.
You have written that studying comics can teach you things about writing fiction. Can you explain?
I think that comics can teach you how to think visually, how to pace your story, and how to write dialogue. These are all important no matter what kind of writing you’re doing, but in comics they really come to the fore, so studying comics can help you develop these skills and them deploy them in other kinds of writing.
You write both MG and YA. What makes you decide to write one or the other? What do you like best of each age group?
It really depends on the kind of story I’m telling. For example, in my I HUNT KILLERS series, I wanted the main characters to have a lot of independence so that they could plausibly do some crazy things and not have to check in with parents constantly, so I made them older. In THE SECRET SEA, I wanted the main characters to chafe against their restrictions and then find themselves free to do pretty much anything…but without the experience to back it up. So I made them younger, so that they would have a harder time of it. I don’t really think, “I’m going to write a middle grade!” or “I’m going to write a YA!” The story itself dictates.
What projects are you working on now?
I’m working on the last of the FLASH books and I’m also working on a book with my wife. Oh, and there’s a super-secret project that I can’t talk about that is VERY cool! Stay tuned!
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Don’t be afraid to suck! Seriously! Write something, and if it’s bad, just write something else. Don’t get down on yourself and depressed because you wrote something that sucks — just keep writing. Eventually, you’ll write something that only half-sucks…and someday, something that doesn’t suck at all!
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
The nature of the super-secret project I alluded to above. :)
Where can people find you online?
I’m on Twitter (@barrylyga), Facebook (Facebook.com/barrylyga), Tumblr (barrylyga.tumblr.com), and on my own site: barrylyga.com.
Barry Lyga is the bestselling author of the I Hunt Killers series and many other titles for young adults. A self-proclaimed Flash fanatic, Barry lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and daughter. Follow him online at barrylyga.com.
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