Hero Type, Boy Toy, & the Astonishing Adventures of Fan Boy & Goth Girl by Barry Lyga

Barry Lyga, he's the best thing that's happened to YA (or fiction period) in much too long. His writing pushes the boundaries and makes you feel it. At times unsettling, gut wrenching, funny, sweet, and so damn sad Lyga's writing is exactly what it ought to be. Thought provoking, relateable, and showing a side to the teenage experience that had yet to be given a voice. He doesn't patronize his readers with "teenage vocabulary", he just writes and it feels so real. I've never been so affected in a real visceral level by any other YA author.

This month is the release of Lyga's new book, Hero Type, a absolute must read especially in an election year and especially in a time where people seem to think patriotism is some quantifiable thing you can measure only if you wear a flag pin. In Hero Type our protagonist is as different from his predecessors as they were to each other,
where Donnie a.k.a Fan Boy was a genius and a comic savant, and Josh a handsome Math Wiz/Jock who'd sooner smash your face in than say hi, Kross is so normal it hurts. Greasy, pimpled, and awkward he is the one character that steps beyond his problems and tries to SAY something. Each book may be set in the same fictitious town of Brookdale, within the same high school, and if you pay attention you can catch a glimpse of them in the books as they progress, (I swear when I saw the name Crazy J in Hero Type I felt as if someone had punched me in the chest, I loved it!) but they couldn't be more different in subject matter if they had separate authors. So there was no way I could give away just one book. You either read them all or you miss out on something special.

Read my interview with the man himself & comment on this post to win these three amazing books. Contest ends September 30th.

The Astonishing Adventures of Fan Boy and Goth Girl

"I can't afford to let myself feel good, to let my guard down, to think for a single moment that I belong.

Because I don't.
What happens when a 15-year-old comic book geek meets the girl of his nightmares?

The brainy outcast known as Fanboy has never had it good, but lately his sophomore year is turning out to be its own special hell. The bullies have made him their favorite target, his best (and only) friend seems headed for the dark side (sports and popularity), and his pregnant mother and the step-fascist are eagerly awaiting the birth of the alien life form known as Fanboy’s new little brother or sister.
But Fanboy has a secret: a graphic novel he’s been working on without telling anyone about it, a graphic novel that he is convinced will lead to publication, fame, and — most important of all — a way out of the crappy little town he lives in and the bullies that make it all hell for him.
Just when he thinks he’s doomed to be alone, Fanboy meets Kyra, a.k.a. Goth Girl, an outrageous, cynical girl who shares Fanboy’s love of comics as well as his hatred for jocks and bullies. Fanboy can’t resist someone who actually seems to understand him, and soon he finds himself willing to heed her advice — to ignore or crush anyone who stands in his way.

But Kyra has secrets, too. And they could lead Fanboy to his dreams…or down a path into his own darkness.

Boy Toy
Josh Mendel has a secret. Unfortunately, everyone knows what it is.

For the past five years, Joshua Mendel has struggled with the aftermath of being sexually abused by his seventh-grade history teacher. Now a high school senior, he still experiences 'flickers,' his name for vivid, mini-flashbacks of his times with Eve. He still refuses to associate with Rachel, his seventh-grade romantic interest whose insistence on a game of spin the bottle at a party led to the exposure of his abuse, a trial, and Eve's imprisonment. Rachel is eager to resume their long-abandoned tentative romance, Eve has been released from prison, and Josh wants nothing more than to win a baseball scholarship to a college far from his small town where he feels certain everyone knows about his past. Despite years of counseling, Josh is unable to move on until he reveals the complete details of his experiences with Eve to Rachel and to his friend, Zik, and finally learns to accept the truth about it.

Hero Type

Maybe it's courage, the kind Kevin Ross (Kross to his friends) showed when he saved Leah Muldoon's life.

Maybe it's living with your own guilt so someone else doesn't have to...

Maybe it's the way Kross was in the right place at the right time...

Or the way he wouldn't back down when everything that mattered to him was called into question.

Maybe it's keeping your friends close--like the Council of Fools, a motley collection of goofballs and whacked-out teenage jesters--even when they don't really understand you.
Or maybe it's striving to do the right thing...

Or figure out what the right thing is in the first place.

Maybe it's trying to figure out how to live with a father who barely speaks, a father who guards a dark secret from his past.

Maybe it's all of this.

none of this. Kross saved someone's life. Maybe that's enough to make him a hero, regardless of his own terrible secret.
Then again...
Maybe not.

10 Questions with Barry Lyga

1. “If you could choose one fictional character to bring into real life, who would you choose?”

Wow. That’s a great question! I have never been asked that before. Can I cheat? Look, let’s be real — if I could make any ONE fictional character real, it would HAVE to be Superman. I mean, could you imagine someone like that...only in the REAL world? He could fix EVERYTHING because there wouldn’t be any aliens or sorcerers or supervillains (or kryptonite!) to stop him. Anyone would have to be an idiot to say anyone else.But that feels like cheating. I would have to say...Katie, the main character from The Girl with the Silver Eyes. That’s a book by Willo Davis Roberts that I read when I was a kid. I guess some people thought it was a little strange for a boy to read a book with a girl as the main character, but that never bothered me. I just knew that she and I were roughly the same age, both friendless, both trying to deal with divorce, both feeling like complete outsiders. (The fact that she also discovered that she had psychic powers was just a bonus…) I guess I’d like to see her in real life and find out how well she grew up.

2. “How did you survive being a teen?”

There’s some debate as to whether I actually did or not! I sort of kept my head down, tried to stay out of trouble, and worked on my writing. If you’ve read my first book, that’s a pretty decent depiction of how I did it, though it took me more than a week to grow up. (I also had no Goth Girl to keep me in line, which may be why it took me longer…)

3. “Have you ever written something that you feel uncomfortable writing, knowing that your family and friends will probably end up reading it?”

God, yes! My first two books! ;) In the case of Fanboy, I was petrified of friends and family saying, “I can’t believe you wrote THAT about ME!” I was ESPECIALLY worried about my mother, but she loved the book. In Boy Toy, I was worried about people looking at me and thinking, “Oh, my God — he THINKS about stuff like that!”But you know, in both cases, I just had to remind myself that I tell stories. That’s what I do. And people have to accept it. Plus, if writing something makes ME uncomfortable, then I can assume that it will probably make a reader uncomfortable, too...and that means I got into that person’s head, which is a good thing.Although, I have to admit: I haven’t allowed my mother to read Boy Toy.

4. “What do you think are the biggest issues that teens need to be thinking about today? Do you think teens today are looking for quality in the books they read, or just to live vicariously through superficial characters?”

I think the biggest issues tend to be the same as they’ve always been — how to survive your teen years with your soul intact, without letting the world beat your dreams and desires out of you...and trying to figure out what your dreams and desires REALLY are, as opposed to what you THINK they are.What makes it more difficult than ever is the sheer unrelenting pace of life, and the vast, unquantifiable amount of data available, all of it hurtling at you at the speed of the ‘net, 24/7. When I was a teen, I was able to tune out and be alone with my thoughts a lot — no cell, no internet, and MAYBE half a dozen TV channels worth watching. Now, though, it’s harder to filter out what matters from the incredible volume of STUFF out there. So a new issue is: How do I maintain my sense of self and my sanity while being bombarded with ten million different — and mixed — messages a day?I think the second part of the question is a little unfair, to a degree. I hope that teens are looking for BOTH when they read — quality AND escapism. The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive. I just hope that the characters aren’t ONLY superficial. But losing yourself in a great character in a great book is one of life’s most sublime pleasures.

5. “How have the books you’ve read inspired the books you’ve written, if at all?”

It’s tough to point to a specific book and say, “Here’s exactly how this particular book led to this particular moment in my writing.” It’s more organic than that. You absorb the books you read; you incorporate their rhythms and structures and vocabularies and then someday you spit it all out, only it’s been mixed up and churned and reorganized.It’s like tossing a bunch of food into a blender: You know what it all is when you toss it in. You recognize it. And after you blend it, you know for a fact what’s in there, but you can’t point to a particular part of the puree and say, “Oh, that’s the carrot, right THERE. There’s the tomato. And the onion. And the sweet bell peppers. And the thyme. And the rosemary. I can see them all.” You CAN’T see them. But there’re in there. Sometimes a piece won’t get totally blended and you’ll recognize something, but not often.Now I’m hungry.

6. “What is the strangest thing you have ever gotten inspiration from?”

Well, my adorable and VERY brilliant goddaughter once had her nose buried in a dinosaur book at school (she is OBSESSED with dinosaurs) and a boy came up to her and said, “You can’t be a girl — girls don’t like dinosaurs!” And she looked at him like he was nuts and said, “Of course I’m a girl — look, I’m wearing a pink hair ribbon!”Believe it or not, that somehow inspired me to write a really brutal tale of high school obsession and revenge, a short story that will be out some time next year in an anthology called GEEKTASTIC.(My goddaughter’s mom said, “Oh, she inspired a story! She’ll be so happy to read it!” and I had to say, “Um, no, she better not… It’s pretty rough…” There’s nothing QUITE like telling a parent, “Your child inspired me to write a story too mature for her to read!”)

7. “Many writers say parting with a character is hard. Do you ever look back on a character and wish you had changed something about him or her?”

No, I never want to change a character. Sometimes I’ll want to change something about events SURROUNDING a character, but the characters themselves are always pretty much exactly as I intended them to be. The stories that spin around them could always be better. Always. (I usually think of the improvements about five minutes AFTER it’s too late.)Joe Haldeman once said that you can sometimes write a perfect sentence, maybe even a perfect paragraph or a perfect page. But you’ll never write a perfect story...but you keep on trying.

8. “What is the one thing such as, sky diving or any other daring thing, that you would love to do but you are too afraid?”

There’s no ONE thing. There are a LOT of things!I’m a complete coward — I don’t do ANYTHING. I don’t even ride roller coasters because I figure with my luck, that’s the day the roller coaster would break down and that’s just a stupid way to die, you know? I mean, could you imagine dying on a roller coaster? And going to Heaven and people saying, “So, how did you die?” And then you have to tell them. And they all say, “So, wait a minute — you died because you did something extremely dangerous...and you didn’t HAVE to do this dangerous thing? You got nothing out of it? In fact, you had to PAY to do it? And THAT’S how you died? What kind of an idiot are you?”Yeah, I spend my days thinking about stuff like this...

9. “What was the biggest obstacle you faced in becoming an author and how did you overcome it?”

There are two major obstacles to becoming a writer. One is internal and one is external.The external one is just a function of luck — you have to have the right people read your work. I spent YEARS trying to get books published and having no luck at all. Then one day I met my agent and everything fell into place from there. I wasn’t really doing anything different internally — it’s just that things lined up for me externally.Internally, you have to have faith in yourself. Because believe me, when the rejection letters are coming fast and furious, you have nothing BUT faith to keep you going. I guess it also helps to be obstinate — I quit writing many, many times, but I always came back to it. I’m glad I did. :)

10. “What do you do when you are faced with writer’s block? What helps you get over it?”

I actually wrote an entire blog entry about this on MySpace last year. I think writer’s block is just a fancy name given to a condition nearly everyone in the world suffers from at some point — to wit, the condition identified by the thought, “Work seems really HARD today.” Since writers are neurotic (a polite word for “completely insane”), one bad day at the keyboard easily turns into more, and then it becomes a vicious cycle.The blog entry describes some ways around writer’s block, but also check out my blog entry on my method, which describes the basics of my writing routine. I’ve found that a good routine helps you avoid writer’s block in the first place.Anyway, I won’t bore you with my whole discourse on writers block. If you’re interested, you can read the MySpace blog here:
http://blog. myspace. com/index. cfm?fuseaction=blog. view&friendID=96106213&blogID=268642533&MyToken=b46f63f3-dfb0-40d7-829b-ec6e03a41e73Holy cow! Those MySpace links are LONG! :)

Thanks Barry, you are amazing!


Shooting Stars Mag said...

Okay..so I pretty much need his books in my life. I realllyy would loveee to win. LOL

He had some great, hilarious, and interesting answers.

I agree that Superman would be an amazing person to have in real life.

That's kind of hilarious about his goddaughter not being able to read the story she inspired....but it does happen. And I love her answer to the boy about being girl. That's awesome!!

Great interview.

Khyrinthia said...

Great interview! I really need to read more of Barry Lyga's stuff. I just read Boy Toy and it was fantastic.

Faith said...

I never heard of him!
you always have awesome books on here Perla!! and i agree with Lauren his answers were very witty.

The Book Muncher said...

great interview, i've never read any of Barry's books, but they all sound good :D

Yan said...

Definitely count me in!


Liviania said...

THE GIRL WITH THE SILVER EYES was one of my favorite books as a kid! I cried when I heard Willo Davis Roberts died.

I've heard fabulous things about Lyga's books. I still regret not picking up FANBOY & GOTH GIRL when I saw it in a library one day.

Rue said...

These sound like great books. I would love to win. Thanks for the chance!

kissofparadise said...

hope i win! i love to read!


The Not So Closet Geeks said...

i would love to be entered in this

robin_titan said...

oh man! ive been wanting to read these books soo bad, well two of them, b/c i hadn't heard of one of them. heck yes superman would be an amazing person to have in real life! he's my favorite superhero! if he were real, i would just die! : )

lc_intocable at yahoo dot com

HylianVampire said...

wow. i've seen all these books at the bookstore, and i've never bought them for some reason. i never even picked them up! Barry Lyga sounds like a WONDERFUL author!! i loved all his answers to those questions. I liked how he answered the question about bringing a fictional character to life. i am obsessed with Superman (well Smallville, but its basically the same thing, right??!!). And i've never heard of The Girl With the Silver Eyes, but now i want to read it.

please, please enter me into this contest!

good luck to everyone who's entering!

hylianvampire [at] hotmail [dot] com

BookDevourer said...

Barry Lyga sounds like a great and hilarious author. I'd really enjoy reading his books.

thank you for this amazing giveaway. Please, enter me.

twiliwolf228 [at] aol [dot] com

Amy said...

Definitely include me as well! Fabulous books!

aimme21 at yahoo dot com

whatvanessareads said...

I would love to enter. Barry Lyga seems so cool. :)

whatvanessareads (at) gmail.com

Paradox said...

Enter me too!

To contact me if I win, click on my name to go to a contact page on my website.

To the person who mentioned The Girl With the Silver Eyes: That was my favorite book when I was younger too!!!!! It was the only book I've ever read that I could finish reading, immediately read it again, and still love it just as much.

Rylie said...

Great interview! I'd love to win these books!

bcanyon at hotmail dot com

Jessica said...

I am dying to read Boytoy. It's been recommended by so many people, though with the disclaimer that there are some very uncomfortable parts. His writing sounds so good and he seems very down to earth. Nice interview!

Book Spot said...

I have heard so many great things about these (from my friends too)--I'd love to win!


TheBookworm said...

Awesome! I just posted about Hero-Type being released on my blog. Please enter me!


Anonymous said...

He is so funny! I have to agree that Superman is the fictional character that I would want to come to life.


Breanna said...

Dude, awesome contest for this month! I'm totally excited. I haven't read any of his books yet. But I've heard that they're good and I really want to read them!

Awesome interview as usual =)

Please enter me!


Carol said...

Great interview as always. Please enter me in the contest! :)

Book~Adorer said...

My husband read Fanboy and Gothgirl and he loved it so I would love to win it and read it myself. Great interview, Lyga! Hope I win!