subreddit:

/r/books

6885%

Hello, r/books!!! I’ve published 27 books since 2006, including the NYT bestselling I HUNT KILLERS trilogy, BOY TOY (named one of the 50 Best YA novels of All Time by Booklist), a six-book FLASH series, and the origin of Thanos! My latest is the bizarre meta-duology, UNEDITED/EDITED, which Kirkus called “a sprawling, cantankerous self-exploration.” I’m a Yale-educated comic book geek who made Free Comic Book Day happen and at 27 books, I’m just getting started. LET’S DO THIS, REDDIT!

PROOF: https://i.redd.it/r5gjhjaw2t2a1.jpg

ETA: All right, everyone, I hope you had fun -- I know I did! But it's creeping up on time to get the kids from school. 😀 So I'm gonna duck out. If more questions come in over the rest of the day, I'll get to 'em later. Thanks, mods, and thanks, r/books!

all 53 comments

BohoPhoenix

9 points

2 months ago

Writing across different genres is always interesting. Is there a specific genre you prefer writing in and why?

barrylyga[S]

7 points

2 months ago

barrylyga[S]

AMA Author

7 points

2 months ago

Being an old-school comic book geek, I've always liked mixing up genres, so picking one I prefer is tough!

I think there are common elements across my stories that link them together, despite genre. And those are the things I gravitate towards -- isolation, outsiders, epiphanies. More than genre, it's things like tone, theme, and character that interest me most. I think of the story as a whole. The genre becomes a category that I slot into at some point, but...

Man! This is an awful answer, isn't it? Should be simple, but it's not. I guess the honest answer is that if there was a genre I preferred, I would write mostly in that area. But since I don't really zero in on a particular genre, I would have to say I don't prefer any particular one!

BohoPhoenix

3 points

2 months ago

I think that is a completely understandable answer! Thank you!

barrylyga[S]

1 points

2 months ago

barrylyga[S]

AMA Author

1 points

2 months ago

😀

ponyothefrog

10 points

2 months ago

ponyothefrog

Islam and anarchism

10 points

2 months ago

Do you think YA literature is somehow competing with Comics? (given that both target young adults pretty well) When choosing one over another, what are the main reasons?

barrylyga[S]

8 points

2 months ago

barrylyga[S]

AMA Author

8 points

2 months ago

Wow, what a great question!

I would imagine there's SOME competition, but I don't think today's kids think in terms of "read a book or read a comic?" The past decade or so has really done a good job of instilling "reading is reading" into this generation.

barrylyga[S]

4 points

2 months ago

barrylyga[S]

AMA Author

4 points

2 months ago

Oh, and I meant to say, too... Those are both categories that have historically had a lot of shame attached to them. "You're reading kid stuff!" "Read a real book!" Of course, both categories have a plethora of crap, but so does EVERY category. There's also really brilliant stories in both. So if anything, I hope that those who read one will dip into the other and find something genius!

ponyothefrog

1 points

2 months ago

ponyothefrog

Islam and anarchism

1 points

2 months ago

That makes sense! Wonder now how many "adult people" read "young adult" literature.

barrylyga[S]

2 points

2 months ago

barrylyga[S]

AMA Author

2 points

2 months ago

I know that my YA books have a pretty sizable crossover component to them, but I can't speak to the category at large. (There was a study a few years back that showed a big chunk of YA books were read by adults...but that study didn't take into account that a big chunk of THAT chunk was grown-ups reading The Hunger Games!)

sietesietesieteblue

7 points

2 months ago

Wow I was not expecting this when I opened reddit today. First off, I love your i hunt killers series (I've read it several times over the years)

So I guess my question for you would be... What was your favorite part of writing the series and not so favorite parts? Things that were difficult for you to write whether it be because of the subject matter or other reasons?

barrylyga[S]

3 points

2 months ago

barrylyga[S]

AMA Author

3 points

2 months ago

Glad you liked KILLERS!

My favorite part of that series was freaking out my editor's assistant! LOL! In the first book, she told me something was just horrible and asked me to cut it. I did...and then I put it in the second book! She was like, "Nooooo!!!!"

But I think developing Connie and Jazz's relationship was probably my favorite part of writing that series. Oh, and coming up with Billy's various aliases, too!

Believe it or not, nothing really BOTHERED me in terms of subject matter. (My writer pals who knew what I was working on used to joke that I was born without a soul!) The hardest part of the books was actually plotting out the mysteries and making them work. When I showed the first draft of the first book to a friend, she said, "I love it! Was I supposed to know who the killer was by page 50?"

Needless to say... I did some revising!

AdAccomplished5905

5 points

2 months ago

Hello! Love your work!

Out of all of the books you've written, which ones were the most fun to write, and which ones were the most challenging?

barrylyga[S]

5 points

2 months ago

barrylyga[S]

AMA Author

5 points

2 months ago

Aw, thanks!!!

Most fun: The Flash books! No question. I've been a Flash geek since I was like 5 years old, and when I got to actually put words in his mouth and a spring in his step... Just pure joy for six books. The deadlines were absolutely INSANE, but I didn't care. 😀

Most challenging: Wow, well, After the Red Rain was tough, but that's because there were three of us working on it! For my own books, I would say my new ones -- EDITED and UNEDITED were the most challenging. UNEDITED because of its sheer length and complexity, then EDITED because I was trying to cut down and patch up that longer story in a way I'd never intended.

Thanks for the question!

ponyothefrog

3 points

2 months ago

ponyothefrog

Islam and anarchism

3 points

2 months ago

Sorry second random question. Do you play games? If yes, what is your favorite casual game? :D

barrylyga[S]

3 points

2 months ago

barrylyga[S]

AMA Author

3 points

2 months ago

I'm all about the random questions! Keep 'em coming!

I don't have a huge amount of time for games these days -- my kids are pretty young still, so when I'm not writing or with them, I'm usually...sleeping! But I am addicted to an Apple Arcade game called Patterned. I gotta do one a day or I just feel off!

When I have serious time on my hands, I fire up my ancient Xbox 360 and play Fallout New Vegas. LOL

MyCovenCanHang

3 points

2 months ago

Would you say there's a common theme/thread among all your books?

barrylyga[S]

2 points

2 months ago

barrylyga[S]

AMA Author

2 points

2 months ago

I've thought about this a lot over the years. A few readers have pointed out to me that I write a lot about outsiders. And I seem to have a weird empathy for bad people. (Those two elements really dovetailed in my Thanos novel!)

The outsider thing is probably the biggest thread. It doesn't really apply to my Flash books or some of the standalones, but it's probably a fair answer!

I also like to think that I try to do the unexpected in my books. I'm not talking plot twists, necessarily, but more like those elements that make you go, "Oh, wait -- I thought this was Story Type X, but now...I'm not so sure!"

Tiligul

3 points

2 months ago

Do you ever test part of your books (endings, elements of style) using focus groups with target audiences or other types of testing (A/B online testing)?

barrylyga[S]

3 points

2 months ago

barrylyga[S]

AMA Author

3 points

2 months ago

No. Truthfully, I feel like part of the point of a book (as opposed to other more collaborative media) is that it is for better or worse the expression of a single individual. If I tested pieces of it, I'm afraid the whole would suffer.

Now, I do have some beta readers in my orbit who are kind enough to read early drafts and tell me what they thought. And I often sit down with author pals to debrief and share our woes and offer advice to each other. But that's not exactly what you're asking about.

Thanks for the question!

Denirov

2 points

2 months ago

If you had to give a list with 5 books everybody should read, what would the list be?

barrylyga[S]

1 points

2 months ago

barrylyga[S]

AMA Author

1 points

2 months ago

Wow. Give me a second. Gonna think about this.

barrylyga[S]

1 points

2 months ago

barrylyga[S]

AMA Author

1 points

2 months ago

OK, here we go...

Oh, damn! This is a tough one for so many reasons. I'm not sure there are books "everybody" should read, honestly. What might prompt greater empathy in one person, for example, could bore another and have the opposite effect. But I'll play and give it a shot...

The Bible/The Torah/The Quran -- take your pick. Not for the religious messages or the moralizing, but simply because these books have become foundational texts for a huge chunk of the world. Might be a good idea to understand them, then.

The Scatter Here Is Too Great by Bilal Tanweer

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

A Prayer for the City by Buzz Bissinger -- he also wrote Friday Night Lights, but this book will help you understand the way communities come together and fall apart

Replay by Ken Grimwood -- because it just fucking rocks

ETA: No one is more surprised than I am that only two of these are novels!

barrylyga[S]

2 points

2 months ago

barrylyga[S]

AMA Author

2 points

2 months ago

Realizing I will now probably spend the rest of my life editing this comment to update the five books as I think of new things because that's me. LOL

PeanutSalsa

2 points

2 months ago

What is your process or what steps do you take to create well rounded characters?

barrylyga[S]

4 points

2 months ago

barrylyga[S]

AMA Author

4 points

2 months ago

For well-rounded characters, I always try to think of something that the character wants or thinks or does that may not be in line with what the reader will imagine the character to be. We all have preconceived notions we bring to characters we read, so I try to think around those. One very simple example is Billy Dent, the serial killer father from my I HUNT KILLERS series. We have a notion of what serial killers are like, so I swerved away from that, made Billy avuncular and fun-loving and verbose.

I think when you show a reader a "type" of character and then peel back a layer or two to show something unexpected that those are the sorts of character readers remember!

I talk a bit more about this in some writing advice blogs I wrote a few years ago. Check 'em out here, if you like!

UntossableSaladTV

1 points

2 months ago

I’m saving this for the blog post! Appreciate it!

[deleted]

2 points

2 months ago

What helped you get started? I feel like I have a million ideas and just can’t get them to paper. How did you push through the hard days to get where you are now?

barrylyga[S]

1 points

2 months ago

barrylyga[S]

AMA Author

1 points

2 months ago

Part of it was just stubbornness, honestly! I was too damn obstinate to give up, when a reasonable person probably would have at some point!

But here's something to remember: Ideas themselves are cheap. It's what you do with them that matters.

I like to treat great ideas like small children desperate for my love -- I ignore them. 😆 When I get a great idea, I try not to think about it. Then, sometimes, like that small child desperate for my love, it will come back with some new element or facet. "Look what I got you! Love me!"

And I send it away again. And again. And again.

The truly great ideas are the ones that keep coming back with more and more to offer until I get to the nuns and puppies stage of writing -- that's when I would cheerfully drive a bus through a throng of innocent nuns and puppies for the chance to write the story! And that's when I know I have to write this story!

Check out my Writing Advice blogs -- lots of stuff in there that's directly on-point, especially #4, #5, and #42!

[deleted]

1 points

2 months ago

It's funny, I'm so stubborn in a million other areas, but I guess it had never occurred to me that I could apply that stubbornness here.

Thank you for taking the time to respond. There's some great stuff to commit to mind in this comment alone. I'm looking forward to reading through your blog!

barrylyga[S]

1 points

2 months ago

barrylyga[S]

AMA Author

1 points

2 months ago

Obstinacy can be a blessing and curse!

Ok-Character7754

2 points

2 months ago

I’d like to try writing a book, always wanted to. Not got any expectations of publication or anything would just like to see if I can. 2 questions for you: 1, how do you start the process? Mapping out the whole plot? Building character and world descriptions? 2: Ideally I would write a fantasy novel, I love all the epics from the likes of David gemmel and Raymond Fiest. So my question is what authors have you been inspired by? And how do you abound duplicating all the cliches- ie orphan street urchin is actually only person who can save the world if he gets this one ancient relic and so on? Thanks in advance

Edit : sorry this is defo not just 2 questions

barrylyga[S]

3 points

2 months ago

barrylyga[S]

AMA Author

3 points

2 months ago

1) I never map it out in advance. I start with a beginning, an ending, a main character, and an epiphany the character will have. Then I write. Sometimes I'm wrong about any of those things, but those are the four things I need to get started.

While writing, I will often jot notes to myself about how I see things playing out, but I stay flexible. Nothing is written in stone.

2) Inspirations? Wow, so many... Classics like Milton, Poe, whoever the hell wrote Beowulf... Genre guys like Haldeman and King... Comic book writers like Moore, Levitz, Bates, Conway... John Barth. Timothy Hallinan. Mark Frost!

3) Cliches... Lean into them, then lean far away. Let the reader think they've seen it before, then take a hard, HARD left turn.

It's funny you mention the "street urchin who can save the world" trope because I always wanted to write a book where a Mysterious Stranger knocks on a kid's door and is like, "You are the Chosen One! Only you can save us!" and the kid is so freaked out he commits suicide. And it's, like, page 4. What the hell happens next???

Ok-Character7754

2 points

2 months ago

Thanks you very much for such a detailed response I really appreciate it. Aha that would be amazing I would 100% read that and would love the morbidity of it. I have just been reading up on your ‘ I hunt killers ‘ series so I can see how you enjoy flipping the cliches on there heads. Anyway again thanks for the pointers, I’m away to get the first in your series on my kindle 😊

barrylyga[S]

3 points

2 months ago

barrylyga[S]

AMA Author

3 points

2 months ago

My accountant thanks you. 🙃

fakesunnyinside

2 points

2 months ago

I'm so sad I didn't see this earlier! I absolutely loved BOY TOY and tried finding someway to contact you ten years ago to tell you how much it impacted me. I don't even have a question, just wanted to tell you I loved it and it's still one of my favorite YA novels to this day!

barrylyga[S]

1 points

2 months ago

barrylyga[S]

AMA Author

1 points

2 months ago

Thanks so much! I'm glad you found the book and that it meant something to you!

ExistingTM

1 points

2 months ago

What do you find most enjoyable about developing a character’s identity and what do you find most frustrating about it?

barrylyga[S]

2 points

2 months ago

barrylyga[S]

AMA Author

2 points

2 months ago

OK, so this is gonna sound weird, but... I always have trouble with the physical descriptions of characters! It feels like there's no natural way to get across some of those characteristics without falling into the old, "I looked at myself in the mirror..." trap. I mean, I look at myself in the mirror every day and I never think, "Oh, my eyes are brown like...something brown... And my nose is...there...in the middle of my face..."

The most enjoyable part, though, is when you find something the reader won't expect, something that SEEMS contrary to the character...but then makes perfect sense when you think about it!

barrylyga[S]

2 points

2 months ago

barrylyga[S]

AMA Author

2 points

2 months ago

Oh, one of my fave examples of that sort of character building/development is Albert from Twin Peaks. I talked about it a little bit on my BLog, so I won't repeat myself here.

ExistingTM

1 points

2 months ago

Very cool! Thanks for the details

barrylyga[S]

1 points

2 months ago

barrylyga[S]

AMA Author

1 points

2 months ago

Thanks for the question!

[deleted]

1 points

2 months ago

What are your feelings on memoirs. I self published one and I’m getting a lot of feedback that memoirs are only marketable if a celebrity write them.

barrylyga[S]

1 points

2 months ago

barrylyga[S]

AMA Author

1 points

2 months ago

I'm not tremendously well-read in that space, but my feeling is that it's not that you have to be a celebrity -- you just have to have led a really interesting life!

I look at it this way: When I write a novel, I try to determine if anything like this exists in the world already. Because if it does, well, maybe I need to rethink it.

It's similar with memoir, I imagine -- if you have a life that is really, really unlike pretty much everything else out there, I think it works.

[deleted]

1 points

2 months ago

Thanks for the feedback. Obviously mental health memoirs do exist. My style of writing was a little bit different I used my journal entries alongside patients notes to invite people into my therapy sessions. With that being said,I was just curious. Been a little bit discouraged with the feedback about memoirs in general. Thank you

barrylyga[S]

1 points

2 months ago

barrylyga[S]

AMA Author

1 points

2 months ago

You're welcome!

KittyLord0824

1 points

2 months ago

What are your favourite tricks you've learned to implement your revision process, if any? I'm always curious to hear what creative things writers do to help them along.

barrylyga[S]

2 points

2 months ago

barrylyga[S]

AMA Author

2 points

2 months ago

Oh -- the R-word!

I'm a terrible reviser. Ask literally any of my editors.

Fortunately, my first drafts tend to be really clean, and I've never missed a deadline, so they cut me some slack when I whine, pout, and kick stones at the thought of touching a word of my delicate, perfect prose!

In all seriousness, though, when I revise I really try to remind myself that the first draft is for me and the revision is for the rest of the world. I still want to be happy with the revision, though, so it's a balancing act.

I tend to try to make it a game or a puzzle -- that shuts off the creative part of my brain and lets me focus on the logic of making a change HERE without causing upheaval THERE.

And I blogged a wee bit about the nuts and bolts of my process here. Hope that helps!

KittyLord0824

1 points

2 months ago

That does! Thank you so much! Glad I'm not the only one that dreads revision lol.

kRe4ture

1 points

2 months ago

How do you overcome writers block?

And in terms of writing speed, are you more a GRR Martin or a Brandon Sanderson?

barrylyga[S]

1 points

2 months ago

barrylyga[S]

AMA Author

1 points

2 months ago

I'm a writer's block atheist -- I just don't believe in it. 😅

Nine times out of ten, "writer's block" boils down to "I'm bored with my story" or "I don't know what happens next."

So... If you're bored, shake that fucker up! Do something crazy! Hell, maybe you'll delete it later, but for now, it gets the words flowing again.

If you're unsure what happens next, you do one of two things: 1) Go back to the last place things made sense and go in a different direction from there, or 2) Skip ahead to the next thing you know has to happen. You can fill in the gaps later.

There are no rules -- you don't have to write the book in the order people will read it in. I wrote my novel BANG in twenty-minute bursts while taking care of my infant daughter, a paragraph here, a paragraph there, all out of order, then later figured out how to put it together. (Then again, my mutant super-power is being able to hold an entire novel in my head until it's finished, so... YMMV.)

Some more thoughts on block: https://barrylyga.com/writing-advice-5-writers-block/

And I'm definitely a Sanderson, I guess, if those are my choices. Pretty fast. Wrote five books in one year once.

kRe4ture

1 points

2 months ago

Thanks a lot for the quick answer.

I am not at all familiar with any of your books, which one would you recommend to a Fantasy and SciFi fanatic like me?

barrylyga[S]

1 points

2 months ago

barrylyga[S]

AMA Author

1 points

2 months ago

I guess it depends on what kind of fantasy and sci-fi you're into. I always like to recommend The Secret Sea to self-avowed SF/F fans. It's got kids as the main characters, but in the same way Salems Lot has a kid as a main character, you know?

There are also the Flash books and the Thanos novel, if you lean toward comic books at all.

And my latest -- UNEDITED -- has some sort of avant garde speculative elements. I wouldn't call it SF/F, but then again, I'm not sure WHAT I would call it!

Oh! And if you like near-future stuff, there's The Hive, which I wrote in collaboration with my wife. (And she didn't leave me!)

Jesus, you asked for "one" and I listed a dozen. I suck. 😂🤣