Posts Tagged ‘ya’

Last week, I had a lovely chat with Shannon Delany (author of 13 TO LIFE and other young adult titles) on blog talk radio. We discussed everything from writing to agenting, fiction to non-fiction (my essay in the DEAR BULLY anthology).  I hope you’ll listen and enjoy.

There have been so many exciting things going on lately that I haven’t found time to blog about them!  If you’re looking for something pithy-ish, I was over at Magical Words last week with an ode to stream-of-consciousness, my fifth grade teacher and the writing process.  If you’re looking for me to share with the class some of the excitement that’s been keeping me on my toes, stay with me here.

In no particular order, because it’s all so cool:

fallofnight Rachel Caine, partnering with producer/director Blake Calhoun, has started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to make her internationally bestselling Morganville Vampires books into a web series, starting Amber Benson as Amelie.  Over $18,000 raised in just two days! Check it out!

wicked earl The first novel in Vicky Dreiling’s awesome new Sinful Scoundrels series came out from Warner Forever.  Who doesn’t want to know WHAT A WICKED EARL WANTS?  Romantic Times gave it a Top Pick! rating and raves, “Dreiling’s first book in the Sinful Scoundrel’s series is wonderful! Rife with the Regancy’s penchant for gossip, scandal and matchmaking, WHAT A WICKED EARL WANTS is a delightful romance featuring a rakish hero, an innocent widow, corrupt villans and a secondray cast of characters who add dimension, wit and tenderness to the plot. Reasers will find this a real pleasure to savor.”  Doesn’t get better than that!

Tor UK announced their pre-empt of a fabulous debut series by one of my clients, Genevieve Cogman.  As they describe it, THE INVISIBLE LIBRARY is like “Doctor Who with Librarian Spies”.  What more could you want?

some girls bite Chloe Neill is doing a giveaway on GoodReads of autographed copies of her first bestselling Chicagoland Vampires novel SOME GIRLS BITE.

In celebration of National Audiobook month, Tantor, which does the audiobooks for both the Morganville and Chicagoland Vampires series, is offering 50% off until June 30th!

SF Signal is doing a cover reveal and giveaway for CRUX, the sequel to Ramez Naam’s blockbuster NEXUS.  You can win the book even before you can buy it!  (Ends Sunday, so don’t wait!)

thieves' quarry Also, check out what you can do to win an advance reading copy of David B. Coe’s THIEVES’ QUARRY, the sequel to his “tricorn punk” THIEFTAKER.

Molly Cochran is all over the blogosphere this week on tour for her amazing YA novels LEGACY and POISON. A few samples with giveaways:

Fantasy’s Ink

Two Chicks on Books

The Best Books Ever

First, HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY to Rachel Caine, Steven Harper and Karen Whiddon for their new releases!!!

fallofnightFALL OF NIGHT by Rachel Caine

New novel in the internationally bestselling Morganville Vampires series

Praise for the series: 

“Rachel Caine is a first-class storyteller who can deal out amazing plot twists as though she was dealing cards.”—#1 New York Times Bestselling Author Charlaine Harris

“Fast-paced adventure….Claire’s tough-girl attitude may remind adult readers of Rachel Morgan and her world of human-vampire interactions. A tremendously popular series.”—Booklist

“Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampires series is my all-time favorite. I love love love the characters, the town, and the surprising plots.”—New York Times Bestselling Author Maria V. Snyder

“Thrilling, sexy, and funny! These books are addictive. One of my very favorite vampire series.”—Richelle Mead, International Bestselling Author of the Vampire Academy Series

Cover Copy:

Thanks to its unique combination of human and vampire residents, Morganville, Texas, is a small college town with big-time problems. When student Claire Danvers gets the chance to experience life on the outside, she takes it. But Morganville isn’t the only town with vampire trouble…

Claire never thought she’d leave Morganville, but when she gets accepted into the graduate program at MIT, she can’t pass up the opportunity. Saying good-bye to her friends is bittersweet, especially since things are still raw and unsettled between Claire and her boyfriend, Shane.

Her new life at MIT is scary and exciting, but Morganville is never really far from Claire’s mind. Enrolled in a special advanced study program with Professor Irene Anderson, a former Morganville native, Claire is able to work on her machine, which is designed to cancel the mental abilities of vampires.

But when she begins testing her machine on live subjects, things quickly spiral out of control, and Claire starts to wonder whether leaving Morganville was the last mistake she’ll ever make…

havoc machineTHE HAVOC MACHINE by Steven Harper

New novel in the acclaimed Clockwork Empire series

Praise for the series:

“Steven Harper has an extraordinary writing talent and his characters, human or not, are all addictive as sin. An eclectic story that I cannot recommend highly enough.”   —Huntress Book Reviews

“This series has really grabbed a hold of me to the point where I’m desperate to find out what happens next. The characters and their plight are so easy to become invested in, and I found myself rooting for them every step of the way. So I cannot recommend the books in The Clockwork Empire series, especially The Impossible Cube any higher. Whether you are a fan of Steampunk or not, these books promise to be an exhilarating roller coaster ride from start to finish that you won’t want to miss!”   —A Book Obsession

“This is a good mix of science fiction and fantasy, action, with a bit of romance as well. Since steampunk has grown in popularity over the years, I see this one being picked up by many fans of the genre.” —News and Sentinel

Cover Copy:

In a world riddled with the destruction of men and machines alike, Thaddeus Sharpe takes to the streets of St. Petersburg, geared toward the hunt of his life….

Thaddeus Sharpe’s life is dedicated to the hunting and killing of clockworkers. When a mysterious young woman named Sofiya Ekk approaches him with a proposition from a powerful employer, he cannot refuse. A man who calls himself Mr. Griffin seeks Thad’s help with mad clockwork scientist Lord Havoc, who has molded a dangerous machine. Mr. Griffin cares little if the evil Lord lives or dies; all he desires is Havoc’s invention.

Upon Thad’s arrival at Havoc’s laboratory, he is met with a chilling discovery. Havoc is not only concealing his precious machine; he has been using a young child by the name of Nikolai for cruel experiments. Locked into a clockwork web of intrigue, Thad must decipher the dangerous truth surrounding Nikolai and the chaos contraption before havoc reigns….

millionaire cowboy THE MILLIONAIRE COWBOY’S SECRET by Karen Whiddon

Wonderful romantic suspense

“Strong, efficient writing and heartfelt romance” – Romantic Times Book Reviews

Cover Copy:

Undercover Seduction Undercover ATF agent Skylar McClain dreams of justice and lives by the law. She always gets her man. Armed with a killer smile and an undercover identity as a photojournalist, she should have no problem bringing down any criminal—even a sexy millionaire horse breeder. But no assignment has ever tested her boundaries like Matt Landeta. His connection to Mexican drug cartels makes him dangerous. Only, what if there’s more to this case than right and wrong?

All Matt wants is revenge. Not a gorgeous distraction like Skylar, whose hunt for answers will complicate things. Yet an unexpected enemy is about to bring Skylar closer to the truth…and to Matt. And letting go of his darkest secrets might be the only way to protect her.


Whoo hoo!  Today is the official release date for my new novel Fangtabulous!  I’m sure I’ll have something pithier or more promotable to say tomorrow or the next day, but for now all I have is WHOO HOO!

About the book:

Gina Covello and her band of federal fugitives are on the run after taking down a secret (and sinister) government facility. Strapped without cash or credit cards—a fate worse than death for Gina—the rebels must find a place to lay low. They roll into Salem, Massachusetts, the most haunted town in America and the only place they have friends flying under the radar. But within a day, Gina and her gang are embroiled in a murder mystery of the supernatural kind.

Someone—or something—is strangling young women, and it’s rumored to be the ghost of Sheriff Corwin, late of the Salem Witch trials.  Is it the ghostly Sheriff or is someone on this side of the veil using the famous story as a cover up? Gina is determined to get to the bottom of this mystery, and she needs to do it before a paranormal reporter on the scene exposes them for what they are…fanged federal fugitives.

Rave Reviews:

For Fangtabulous: “Another amusing romp in the series, this installment also sees its hardy heroine beginning to mature, adding further dimension to her character.  Reminiscent of Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse and Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, Gina never fails to deliver the goods.” —Kirkus Reviews

For the Vamped series: “Readers who appreciate Diver’s light, dry humor will welcome back feisty Gina and her hunky boyfriend, Bobby… a welcome lighthearted departure from gloomy vampire romance.” —Booklist

“Diver spins an action-packed story that is filled with humor. Gina is a sassy heroine who tackles issues and challenges with proper vampire style.” —School Library Journal

“Diver successfully creates a vampire teen who is active and assertive and has no time for angst.  Gina has a biting, sarcastic voice that makes the Vamped books quick and entertaining reads.”—VOYA

“There is enough grit and wit in this installment to keep adults engaged, as well as plugged-in co-eds. So take a fabulous spin. And stay tuned for book #4, Fangtabulous” — Comicmix

Other books in series:




Happy book birthdays to Molly Cochran!  That’s right, “birthdays”…plural!  The paperback edition of her acclaimed YA debut LEGACY and the hardcover and e-book editions of the sequel, POISON, are both out today from Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books!



An “exciting and well-written tale of contemporary witchcraft and romance” that will “please the legions of paranormal fans looking for a sophisticated supernatural thriller” (Publishers Weekly).

When her widowed father dumps sixteen-year-old Katy Jessevar in a boarding school in Whitfield, Massachusetts, she has no idea that fate has just opened the door to both her future and her past. Nearly everyone in Whitfield is a witch, as is Katy herself, although she has struggled all her life to hide her unusual talents. Stuck at a boarding school where her fellow students seem to despise her, Katy soon discovers that Whitfield is the place where her mother committed suicide under mysterious circumstances when Katy was just a small child. With dark forces converging on Whitfield, it’s up to Katy to unravel her family’s many secrets to save the boy she loves—and the town itself—from destruction.

Legacy is a compelling tale that is as believable as it is magical, and the irresistible romance continues in Poison, its sequel.



Arthurian legend mixes with modern-day witchcraft in this haunting sequel to Legacy, which Kirkus Reviews said “Will satisfy readers hungry for a little paranormal excitement and romance in a post-Twilight world… a quick, entertaining read.”

After the riveting—and romantic—events of Legacy, Katy has won Peter’s heart and is now claiming her place in the magical world. Though half the students at her boarding school come from witching lines, the use of magic is expressly forbidden at Ainsworth, so as to keep the witching world hidden from the blue-blooded preppies, aka Muffies, who also walk the halls.

But the Muffies have at least a notion of magic, because Katy catches them staging a made-up ritual—and to her astonishment, the girls collapse at Katy’s feet and fall into comas. When Katy is blamed, she becomes desperate to clear her name and finds herself battling all odds to harness her growing magical powers in order to save the Muffies and dispel the Darkness once more.

Two great tales, no waiting!

almost the truth Today I’m pleased to present an interview with Eileen Cook, author of Unraveling Isobel, The Education of Hailey Kendrick and her latest from Simon Pulse, Almost the Truth.

Book Summary:

From the author of Unraveling Isobel and The Education of Hailey Kendrick, a smart, romantic novel about a teenage con artist who might be in over her head.

Sadie can’t wait to get away from her backwards small town, her delusional mom, her jailbird dad, and the tiny trailer where she was raised…even though leaving those things behind also means leaving Brendan. Sadie wants a better life, and she has been working steadily toward it, one con at a time.

But when Sadie’s mother wipes out Sadie’s savings, her escape plan is suddenly gone. She needs to come up with a lot of cash—and fast—or she’ll be stuck in this town forever.

With Brendan’s help, she devises a plan—the ultimate con—to get the money. But the more lies Sadie spins, the more she starts falling for her own hoax…and perhaps for the wrong boy. Sadie wanted to change her life, but she wasn’t prepared to have it flipped upside down by her own deception. With her future at stake and her heart on the line, suddenly it seems like she has a lot more than just money to lose….

Praise for Eileen Cook’s books

“.. enormously appealing and great company throughout this breezy read…..the highest quality—like a gourmet truffle. Cook has whipped up a real treat.” – Kirkus Starred Review

“Thrilling and creepy, super sexy, and so very hilarious.” – Lisa McMann, bestselling author of the Wake trilogy

“Sassy and sly and sweet all at the same time, this book made me laugh out loud.” – Meg Cabot, author of The Princess Diaries and Airhead

Interview with Eileen Cook

What is your writing process like?  Are you a plotter or a pantser?  Do you schedule time to write each day or are you a spree writer?

I am a panster by nature, but find I do more and more plotting.  I can’t plot everything out or else I lose interest in the story, but I’m finding it helpful to have some idea of where the book is going- at least the major turning points. I try and schedule some time every day to write, but there are days/weeks/months where the best made plans don’t work. When that happens I sneak the writing in anyway I can.
What is the hardest part about the publishing process for you and how do you get through it? (For me, it’s copyediting and sour cream and onion chips.)

The waiting! Everything in publishing takes soooooooo long. I get through it by keeping busy.  And chocolate. Never underestimate the healing power of chocolate.
We drop your hero or heroine on a deserted island.  Quick, what are the three things he or she can’t live without?

Her best friend Brendan (who she sort of accidentally slept with- but she’s going to sort that out), pizza from her favorite local place and a book on architecture to keep her busy.
If your story were a film, who would you cast?

I’m terrible at this! I always want to cast actors who died years ago or else I can’t remember their names. I think I would have them cast all unknown actors- that way I won’t have any preconceived ideas.  However, I’m open for them putting Colin Firth in the movie just so I can meet him.

Yesterday I posted about the Crossroads Blog Tour, coming October 21st – October 28th.  Well, guess what?  Just before that comes Teen Read Week!  It would be fabulous for you to choose one (or more!) of the authors from the tour so that it’s that much more meaningful when you follow us and maybe win that Kindle pre-loaded with great reads!  Other fabulous choices: The Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine, BRIMSTONE, HIGHWAY TO HELL, THE SPENDOR FALLS or TEXAS GOTHIC by Rosemary Clement-Moore, LEGACY by Molly Cochran, THE DARK ELITE and CHARMFALL by Chloe Neill, FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS by Diana Peterfreund, RADIATE by Marley Gibson, the Vamped series by, well, me…or any of my Girlfriends Cyber Circuit sisters, like Gretchen McNeil, interviewed below about her new release, TEN, a modern teen take on Agatha Christie’s classic TEN LITTLE INDIANS.


It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives – three days on Henry Island at an exclusive house party. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their own reasons for wanting to be there, both of which involve Kamiak High’s most eligible bachelor, T.J. Fletcher. But what starts out as a fun-filled weekend turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.

Suddenly, people are dying and the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?

Interview with Gretchen McNeil:

What is your writing process like?  Are you a plotter or a pantser?  Do you schedule time to write each day or are you a spree writer?

I’m like a plotpantser.  Basically, I outline the first act, and then I know what the end will basically be, but what happens between the beginning of Act II and the end of Act III is malleable!  When I’m on deadline, I try to write 1k words a day, 5 days a week.  That’s a comfortable pace for me.

What is the hardest part about the publishing process for you and how do you get through it? (For me, it’s copyediting and sour cream and onion chips.)

The waiting.  I’m not a particularly patient person, and so waiting for everything from notes to cover reveals to reviews to sales figures is so difficult for me!  I cope with champagne.  😉

We drop your hero or heroine on a deserted island.  Quick, what are the three things he or she can’t live without?

Meg can’t possibly live without her notebook, a pen, and T.J. Fletcher.

If your story were a film, who would you cast?

Funnily enough, someone tweeted last week how Michael B. Jordan (Friday Night Lights)  would be perfect as T.J. Fletcher.  I’m in total agreement.  And the only other character I’d definitely want the chance to cast would be Minnie – Elle Fanning would be perfect.

Are there any contests or upcoming appearances/interviews/etc. you’d like to plug?

Definitely check out the appearances page on my blog for all my upcoming events:

And if you want be in the loop for exclusive meet and greets with me, sign up to join the Army of Ten!

Congratulations on your fabulous new release!

Yesterday a very fabulous book released, BRIMSTONE by Rosemary Clement-Moore, which includes two novels I consider to be my gateway drugs into young adult fiction, PROM DATES FROM HELL and HELL WEEK, which won the RITA Award for Best Young Adult Romance.  These are the first two novels in the snarky and wonderful Maggie Quinn: Girl vs. Evil series, which continues with HIGHWAY TO HELL.  I highly, highly advise you to check them out!

In other news, I’ve been holding onto a wonderful interview with Elise Allen for her new release POPULAZZI!  (I know, bad blogger, no cookie.)  But I’m pleased to present it to you now, along with a big of info about the author and book.


After starting her career in television, Elise Allen has emerged as a vibrant new voice in teen fiction.  She is the co-author of Hilary Duff’s New York Times Bestseller Elixir, as well as its sequels, Devoted and True.  She received an Emmy nomination for her work on the PBS show Dinosaur Train, and fulfilled a lifelong dream when she wrote for the Muppets.  She lives in Los Angeles, where she indulges her inexplicable desire to run marathons.  Visit her at, or on Twitter @EliseLAllen.


WHAT WOULD YOU DO if you had the chance to erase your past and reinvent yourself as the person you’ve always wanted to be?  Would you grab it?  Would you stick with it, no matter what the consequences?

Cara Leonard always wished she could be one of  those girls: confident, self-possessed, and never at a loss for the perfect thing to say.  One of the Populazzi.

It always seemed impossible… but now could be her chance.

When Cara moves to a new school just before junior year, her best friend urges her to seize the opportunity and change her life… with the help of The Ladder.  Its rungs are relationships, and if Cara transforms herself into the perfect girlfriend for guys higher and higher on the Popularity Tower, she can reach the ultimate goal: Supreme Populazzi, the most popular girl in school.

The Ladder seems like a lighthearted social experiment — a straight climb up — but it quickly becomes gnarled and twisted.  And when everything goes wrong, only the most audacious act Cara can think of has a chance of setting things even a little bit right.

Interview with Elise Allen:

What is your writing process like?  Are you a plotter or a pantser?  Do you schedule time to write each day or are you a spree writer? 

My writing process is complete chaos.  I’m a plotter, but a rough plotter, and I’m not married to anything I plot.  When the characters morph and change and develop and tell me they want to do something other than I had in mind for them, I listen.

As for when I write, I have fantasies of an organized “writing time” each day, but it never works out that way.  I’ve never heard the term “spree writer,” but I love it!  It’s also very accurate.  I’ll fit in my writing whenever I can, but then I’ll take a whole day when my husband’s hanging with our daughter, plop my butt at a coffee shop, and not move for twelve hours while I write.

What is the hardest part about the publishing process for you and how do you get through it? (For me, it’s copyediting and sour cream and onion chips.)

For me it’s the first draft.  Rewriting – even if it’s a page-one, rip-it-all-to-shreds-and-start-fresh rewrite – is fun and exciting, but that first draft… I have a horrible time getting what Anne Lamott calls Radio Station KFKD out of my head.  I’m always imagining someone staring over my shoulder and making gagging noises so loudly that I can’t hear myself think.

How do I get through it is a tougher one to answer, since I’ve yet to find that great, healthy solution that I’m positive is somewhere out there, taunting me with its elusiveness.  In the meantime, I battle it with boatloads of coffee, eardrum-shattering music blaring through headphones… and mass quantities of munchies.
We drop your hero or heroine on a deserted island.  Quick, what are the three things he or she can’t live without?

1)    Snacks – ideally French fries and chocolate shakes, so she can dip the fries into the shakes and enjoy.

2)    A journal to vent about the drama she will undoubtedly encounter even when she’s all alone on an island.

3)    A small replica of the Liberty Bell and an ancient pack of Tastykakes.  I know it sounds odd, but it has major sentimental value.
If your story were a film, who would you cast?

I love this game!  And it gives me a chance to say that Populazzi has been optioned for a film, so fingers crossed we’ll be playing this game in real life.

For Cara, my lead character, I’d cast Modern Family’s Sarah Hyland.  She’s great with comedy, emotionally honest, and very likable.  And while she’s the beautiful, confident daughter in Modern Family, I believe she’d do a great job as the far less secure Cara, and get to show off a more vulnerable side.

Cara’s best friend Claudia is a whole pile of quirky, obsessed with all things Shakespearean and dramatic.  For her I’m very intrigued by Ashley Rickards, from MTV’s Awkward.  I think she could totally nail the role.

Archer, the guy for whom Cara falls hard, has to be charming, quirky, quick-witted and completely at ease … except when he’s trying to express his feelings for Cara, at which point he gets all tangled up in himself.  My dream would be Dev Patel from Slumdog Millionaire.  I get all melty just imagining him in the role; he’d have Cara and the rest of the world completely in love with him.

Nate Wetherill is the dark, brooding, guitar-playing DangerZone who makes Cara’s blood race.  There is no question in my mind that this should be Darren Criss from Glee.  Nate is a complete 180 from Blaine, but I know Criss could pull it off, and I think he’d have a blast with it.  Plus there’s the fact that between Glee and A Very Potter Musical,I have a mild obsession with Darren Criss, and working with him professionally would give me a legitimate reason to gush to him about his awesomeness.

Then there’s Trista, the Supreme Populazzi who has the whole school in the palm of her hand.  My dream pick?  Emma Watson!  I love her!  She’s gorgeous, self-possessed, and a terrific actress, plus sexy, devious Trista is a complete departure from Hermione Granger, so she’d get the chance to play way off type.

Are there any contests or upcoming appearances/interviews/etc. you’d like to plug?

Sure!  I’m doing a giveaway right now on my blog, and the winner gets a five-pack of books: Populazzi, plus one book from each of the four authors who blurbed it.  Check it out here:
Congratulations on your fabulous new release! 

Thanks so much, Lucienne, and thanks for hosting me on the blog!  I’m really excited about Populazzi coming out in paperback!
Book Trailer:

One of the things I love about being part of the Girlfriends’ Cyber Circuit is getting to find out about intriguing new releases like TIMEPIECE by Myra McEntire.  Here’s a little something about the books and a brief interview, which I hope you’ll find intriguing as well!


Kaleb Ballard was never supposed to be able to see ripples—cracks in time. Are Kaleb’s powers expanding, or is something very wrong? Before Kaleb can find out, Jonathan Landers, the man who tried to murder his father, reappears. Why is he back, and what, or whom, does he want?

In the wake of Landers’s return, the Hourglass organization is offered an ultimatum by a mysterious man. Either they find Landers and the research he has stolen on people who might carry the time gene, or time will be altered—with devastating results for the people Kaleb loves most.

Now Kaleb, Emerson, Michael, and the other Hourglass recruits have no choice but to use their extraordinary powers to find Landers. But where do they even start? And when? Even if they succeed, just finding him may not be enough. . . .

The follow-up to Hourglass, Timepiece blends the paranormal, science-fiction, mystery, and suspense genres into a nonstop thrill ride where every second counts.


What is your writing process like? Are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you schedule time to write each day or are you a spree writer?

I have to talk out my plots. I do some before I start, and more as I get deeper in the story. I have friends who listen, and a few who just nod and make acknowledging noises. They both work. And I try to schedule time each day, but that’s easier during the school year.
What is the hardest part about the publishing process for you and how do you get through it? (For me, it’s copyediting and sour cream and onion chips.)

The middle. Dear sweet heaven, the middle. I get through it with Twizzlers and crying.
We drop your hero or heroine on a deserted island. Quick, what are the three things he or she can’t live without?

He needs: His girlfriend. Hot Tamales. Sunscreen.
If your story were a film, who would you cast?

I’ve always said Kaleb is what would happen if Channing Tatum and Kellan Lutz had a baby. So Imma need them to get going on that.
Congratulations on your fabulous new release!

Thank you!

Myra has a contest on her site – – that will run from June 18th to June 25th. She’ll be giving away signed copies of HOURGLASS and TIMEPIECE, signed posters of the covers, a goodie basket inspired by her characters, and signed books from other authors! Thank you!

For those of you who haven’t yet read I HUNT KILLERS by Barry Lyga, he’s written an intense novel in which Jazz, the teenaged son of the world’s worst serial killer, becomes obsessed with hunting a new murderer in order to prove that the “training” he received from his father during his formative years can be used for good.  (This to counteract the fear that he and others have that Jazz may follow in his father’s footsteps.)  It’s a wonderful novel, both psychologically and suspensefully, and so realistic in the way that Jazz must constantly fight his father’s brainwashing and the fears raised about his future.  It’s not often that I write fan letters – I should probably do this a lot more frequently, but as an agent I always worry that people will suspect ulterior motives—but I met Barry years ago, and had to reach out to tell him how much I enjoyed I HUNT KILLERS and to pick his brain about how he was able to maintain his own sanity while getting into the right mindset to make the novel truly authentic.  Here are my questions and his answers.

Barry, I’m blown away with the way that you were able to put yourself into your protagonist’s head and to create someone at once so appealing and potentially scary.  What kind of research did you have to do in order to create Jazz and his father, Billy Dent?

Thanks! Before I wrote the book, I sort of immersed myself in all things serial killer. I spent a few months reading nothing but books about law enforcement and forensic science and serial killer profiles and the history of serial murder. There was a temptation early on to take all of that reading and use it very specifically and sort of make everything in my book a reference to that real-world information in some way, but then I just decided that it would be best to let my research linger in my head and inform the mood of the book, rather than the details. So Billy, for example, isn’t based on any real person. He’s a figment of my imagination, filtered through all of that reading. And Jazz is really just… There aren’t many books about the children of serial killers, at least none that I found or read. So I just did what I always do, for every book: I thought to myself, “Imagine you’re a kid in this particular situation. What happens now?” And I ran with it.

Did you ever find the mood of the story affecting you personally?  If so, were there strategies you used for getting into the mindset and back out again?

Nah. I know the safe answer is something like, “Oh, yeah, it was horrifying to write this… I was so disturbed…” But it didn’t bother me at all. My friends joke that I was born without a soul because I have no problem jumping right in and writing some of the gruesome and psychologically messed up stuff in the book. I don’t have to get into any specific mindset. I just sit down and boom! I’m there. And when I’m done, I’m done. Doesn’t bother me or affect me.

Was there any personal experience or background you were able to draw on to evoke the emotions within the novel?

I think everything written, no matter what it is, has some kind of background in the author’s self and history. It’s not like my dad’s a serial killer or anything, but I’ve had — we’ve all had — that moment in our lives when we think, “Am I going to grow up to be just like my parents?” And that can either thrill you or terrify you. It’s a universal thing and it’s easy to tap into. And I think Jazz’s fear of himself, of his own power, is universal, too, as we grow up and come out of the haze of adolescent hormones and begin to realize that there are people who matter in the world and that we have the ability to hurt them or to help them. So, yeah, I drew on that stuff and sort of ramped it up because for Jazz these issues are literally a matter of life and death.

As much as I love Jazz, his best friend Howie is probably my favorite character in the novel.  Do you want to discuss how he came to be?

Aw, I am so glad to hear that! I love Howie. I was so terrified that he was going to succumb to Best Friend Syndrome. I resisted letting him be funny at first because the best friend is ALWAYS funny and I’m sort of tired of that. But then he developed this dark gallows humor about him, and he’s got this knowledge that he could die so easily, and it made him feel very real and very new to me. At first, I just thought it would be sort of funny and interesting to have Jazz’s friend be a hemophiliac. It was the idea of juxtaposing the ultimate killer with the ultimate victim. Because you know Jazz could kill Howie in a fraction of a second. And then that knowledge sort of filtered down for me and I realized that by being friends with Howie, Jazz has put himself in a position where he’s constantly reminded of the frailty of human life. And Howie allows himself to be in that position, to be that reminder. It just all came together really nicely and I’m so happy with the two of them. There’s a lot more of Howie in the second book, so I’m glad people seem to like him!

Can you talk a little about the process?  How many drafts did you have to go through?  Did you have to dig yourself deeper with each one?  The momentum on the plotting and pacing are so strong that I wonder….

I typically don’t go through many drafts. I usually do one on my own and then do a clean up and then another with my editor and we’re done. But I’d never written a mystery before and when I finished the first draft of KILLERS, every damn person who read it figured out who the killer was! Every single one of them! So, I did some tweaking and some fixing and… I don’t remember, but I think I did two or three sweeps through it before I gave it to my editor. And then SHE figured out who the killer was! And I was like, “Goddamn it!” But it took her LONGER than it took my beta readers, so I knew I was on the right path! [Laughs] So we did another run-through and then just a quick little tweak after that and it was ready. The bones of the whole thing were there from the beginning, from the first draft: The character arcs, the plot, everything. It was just a little thing, you know — the goddamn mystery! I just had to keep tweaking things and modifying bits to make it work. It was a serious education for me. You can change the direction of the mystery in the reader’s head just by changing a line of dialogue. Like I said — I’d never written anything like this before, so I was sort of learning as I went along.

You mentioned momentum and that’s funny because I always feel like my books start really slow and then sort of build from there. And that was all right for my other books, but at some point, I realized, Duh! This book is a thriller! It has to MOVE. And I felt like the beginning was still slow, so I just arbitrarily decided that I would cut ten percent of the first hundred pages of the book. Don’t ask why — I don’t know. I just decided that out of the blue one day. When you break it down, it works out to something like twenty-five words cut from each page. So that’s what I did — I just went through and cut ten percent of the first hundred pages. And honestly, I still think the first forty pages or so are a little slow, but it’s better than it was before.

Given the subject matter, was it a challenge at all to convince your agent or the young adult editors that it would be appropriate for the YA market?

Not at all! I mean, I lucked out in that regard — my editor was itching to publish a YA novel about serial killers. She had mentioned the idea of such a book and I thought it was sort of too much and disgusting and disturbing, and then one night I woke up in the middle of the night, thinking, “His FATHER is a serial killer!” And I went to my computer at, like, three in the morning and wrote up a proposal. And bang — it all came together. She was a little worried that it was going to be too dark, but when she saw Jazz interacting with Howie and Connie, she saw what I was up to and it’s been smooth sailing all along.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?  Any other projects you’d like to mention or websites you’d like to direct us to for excerpts or further information?

Well, almost diametrically opposite KILLERS, I have a fun middle grade series called ARCHVILLAIN. The last book in that trilogy will be coming out in January. And the second KILLERS book will be out in April. Web-wise, I’m on Facebook at, I’m @barrylyga on Twitter, and of course I have my website at People can feel free to stalk me at any combination of them!

Thanks so much, Barry!  It was a pleasure to read I HUNT KILLERS and a pleasure to have you here.  I’m already looking forward to the sequel!

Thanks, Lucienne!