SLJ Teen Live: Postscript

Because I love the sound of my own voice and don’t know how to be brief1, I ran out of Q&A time during my SLJ Teen Live event.

So I asked the fine folks at SLJ to please forward the unanswered questions to me so that I can field them here. And away we go…

At what age (ish) do you feel it would be okay for your daughter to start reading your books? — Jasmine

I was going to say that it depends on which books, but the honest answer is: It depends on my daughter! Every kid is different and can handle different ideas and stories at different ages. If she seems mature enough for, say, I Hunt Killers at age 10, I’d be a hypocrite not to let her read it.

I think something else that pertains here is that it’s also probably a little odd for a child to read something written by a parent. She might be ready for something mature in a general sense long before she’s ready to read something mature that her dad wrote.

What ages do you think should read Bang? — Erica

It really depends on the individual reader. Honestly, there are probably eleven-year-olds out there who can handle it, and twenty-five year-olds who can’t. I’m really, really bad at letting arbitrary criteria (like age) dictate reading. Fortunately, I don’t have to decide! I think most kids are better self-censors than we give then credit for and would stop reading the book if it proved to be too much for them.

Is there ever coming a second part of After the Red Rain? — Amanda

Sorry to say, probably not. It was tough getting all three of us together for the book, and Robert and Peter aren’t business partners any more, so it would be even tougher to make everyone’s schedules fit.

You mentioned pizza……are we talking Dominos or Papa Johns? — Ashley


Do you prefer writing for adults or for young adults? — Kristine

I don’t think of the audience when I write, so I never really think of myself as writing “for” a particular group or age range. I just tell the story to the best of my ability and cross my fingers that someone out there will like it!

What type of research did you do to prepare for writing Bang? — Connie

Most of my research actually centered on Muslim-American experiences and on things like YouTube. The actual shooting itself is very simple and sadly prevalent to the point that no research was needed. I spent a lot of time reading some Muslim personal narratives and also spoke with three Muslims who were willing to offer their thoughts. On YouTube, I sort of delved into how viral videos tend to work and how the system itself works overall.

What about The Flash???? — Lisa

What about it????

It’s a dream come true, honestly. Three books, coming out in October 2017, April 2018, and October 2018. The first book is titled Hocus Pocus and its awesome comic book-y fun!

woooohoooo!!!!! — Amanda

Right back atcha!!!!!

I’m a teen librarian. Could never get my husband to read a YA book. Begged him to try I Hunt Killers… we now have all 3 in hardback. He wants more, but he has brain damage and can’t read print anymore. Best one to rec him in audio? — Rebecca

I’m so sorry about your husband. I’m not sure if you’re asking me to recommend one of my books in audio or just any YA. So I’ll do both!

The I Hunt Killers trilogy and Bang are all in audio, read by Charlie Thurston, who does an absolutely amazing job.

As to other books: I’d recommend Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens and Paul Griffin’s Adrift, both read by the authors themselves!

Not a question – thanks for the short stories you’ve been releasing for the ACLU. Great stories & and great cause! — Michelle

Thanks! Everyone out there, please consider buying my ACLU fundraiser stories each month! This month’s is “Bobby” and the story “Four Minutes” is still available as well.

It happens more than people think.  Many years ago our nephew and his best friend found a gun on the house when they were both 12.  They took turns laughing and waving it around.  Our nephew, Scott, was holding it when it went off and killed his friend. — Stephanie

Ouch. I hate to end on such a downbeat note, but this is the topic, isn’t it? As I said in the SLJ chat, I didn’t invent Bang — it happens all the time. Thanks for sharing your very painful story, Stephanie.

  1. College girlfriend: “Barry, you don’t have conversations with people; you give lectures.”

A Star for BANG!

I’m thrilled to announce that School Library Journal has given Bang a starred review in its February 17 issue, saying, in part:

Lyga (I Hunt Killers) tackles a number of relevant issues in this heartbreaking novel, including gun control, suicide, and religious and racial prejudice. The pain and anguish Sebastian feels every day are raw and chafing, and the chemistry between Sebastian and Aneesa is tender and realistic. VERDICT With a number of sensitive issues addressed, along with frequent graphic language, this book may be best for a mature audience, who will fully appreciate the unwavering and stark realism.

Thanks, SLJ!

(You can read an excerpt from Bang at!)

The First Review for After the Red Rain

Coming in August 2015!

I didn’t expect to be seeing reviews for After the Red Rain already ,but the folks at School Library Journal have already weighed in! And I think they kinda liked it…

Facinelli, aka Dr. Carisle Cullen from the “Twilight” movies, and producer DeFranco team up with YA author Lyga to create a powerful postapocalyptic novel. This particular version of the future is so far post the apocalypse that no one can remember how exactly they got there, though theories abound, most of them involving a “red rain” that may or may not have killed half of the world’s population. The main character, Deedra, was raised in an orphanage and now leads a plodding, government-controlled existence working in a factory and scavenging on her days off. It is on one of these trips that she meets the oddly named Rose, a boy her age who seems to have come from nowhere and is completely different from anyone she’s ever met. When Rose’s true nature is revealed—not a vampire or robot but something far stranger and more interesting—Deedra realizes that he may be the key to saving their dying world. She just needs to save him first. The story moves along without feeling rushed, and with the exception of the scenery-chewing magistrate, characters are fully formed and subtly drawn. VERDICT Not just another dystopia: strong characters and adept world-building make this work stand out from the crowd.

I think my favorite part is that bit early on about how “no one can remember how exactly they got there, though theories abound.” That was something I really cared about a lot, as a way of making this stand out from other post-apocalyptic stories.

Anyway, I’m glad SLJ dug it, and I hope you will, too, when it comes out in August!

Interview: School Library Journal

I’m doing some kind of cool, tech-y online panel thing for the fine folks at School Library Journal in a couple of weeks. They’re preceding this with online interviews with the panelists.

You know where this is going, right?

So go there!

SLJ Chimes in on The Mad Mask!

I’m thrilled to report that School Library Journal has braved both evil geniuses and reported back on Archvillain #2: The Mad Mask!

Endowed with extraordinary strength and brainpower by a mysterious “space plasma,” sixth-grader Kyle (aka the Azure Avenger) continues his efforts to unmask the alien Mighty Mike. As in Archvillain (Scholastic, 2010), superpowered Mike is still the darling of the populace, even though his heroic efforts often have unfortunate consequences. He has taken over Kyle’s spot as the most popular kid in Bouring Middle School and is center stage in every class. Still suspicious of Mighty Mike’s ultimate plans, Kyle is working on a new device to expose him when he is contacted by yet another would-be archvillain. Calling himself the Mad Mask, the newcomer claims to have been disfigured by the same cosmic event that brought Mighty Mike to Earth and gave Kyle his enhanced abilities. He needs Kyle’s help to finish his Ultitron robot and promises assistance against Mighty Mike in return. At first Kyle is delighted to have another superfriend in the mix. However, he begins to notice that his new ally has a rather cruel streak and is decidedly unreliable in crisis situations. Is the Mad Mask really all he seems? Readers familiar with the first adventure will find that Kyle shows considerable character growth in this installment. While he is still not above manipulating others for his own benefit, his experience with the Mad Mask’s truly malicious plotting shows him the limits of cynicism and selfishness–perhaps moving him closer to being a genuine superhero. Filled with mock heroic dialogue and sly jabs at popular superhero conventions, this book will be welcomed by adventure fans.

Thanks, SLJ!