Bonus: After the interview, there's an exclusive video of author Libba Bray interviewing Barry!
Bonus bonus: After that, you have a chance to win an ARC of I Hunt Killers for yourself!
So. On to the awesome.
It was a very strange set of coincidences. I was having drinks with my editor and I said something that she mis-heard -- she thought I said I was writing about a serial killer. She got very excited and I felt bad telling her that she's misunderstood. I wasn't sure how to do a serial killer story in YA, really -- I didn't want to write about a KID who was going around murdering people, you know? That felt sort of sensationalistic and weird. But then the next day, I had this thought: What if the kid wasn't the killer? What if his FATHER was the killer? And better yet, what if his father was the worst serial killer in the world? And once that thought popped into my head, I couldn't shake it loose, and I had to write the series so that I could answer those questions. I'd imagine research for this book was...interesting, to say the
What was the most fascinating aspect of the research for you? The most gruesome? The most surprising?
Probably the most fascinating aspect -- and the thing I get asked most -- is "What makes someone a serial killer?" Because the truth is, no one really knows. You'll read one book where they say, "We've proved conclusively that X is the cause for serial murder." And then the next book totally debunks it. And then the next book totally debunks THAT one. So no one knows, which is fascinating and scary.
The most gruesome thing… I don't know why, but this little fact just sticks in my head: There was a serial killer in the twenties named Albert Fish. Really crazy guy. Used to kill and eat kids. When they arrested him, the cops strip-searched him and they discovered that he had inserted 29 needles in the space between his scrotum and his rectum. Isn't that bizarre? I can't imagine having the detachment to stick in ONE needle, let alone 29!
I can't tell you the most surprising thing I learned because it's going to be crucial to one of the future books in the series! Sorry! :)
Did any of your research give you nightmares or make you start looking at your neighbors funny?
Nah. But I think people started looking at ME a little funny because I was always carrying around books about serial killers and forensic science. And I actually Googled "how to get away with murder" once, so I'm sure somewhere, somehow, that's ended up in my digital profile. (BTW, it's very disappointing to Google "how to get away with murder" -- there are no helpful answers. I had to figure it out on my own.)
Did you hit any roadblocks in trying to write a book about serial killers for this age group? Are you anticipating angry letters from parents and/or villagers with pitchforks?
I would be REALLY surprised if parents or villagers picked up their pitchforks. You can turn on prime time TV and see serial killers raping and torturing their way across Manhattan on a dozen different TV shows, all on the networks and all available at the click of a remote. Anyone who protests this book is so out of touch with reality that they probably need medication.
As to roadblocks because of the age group: Not really. I tend not to think of the audience for a book when I'm writing it. I just plug away and try to write the best story possible.
I don't want to say serial killers are trending at the moment, but there has certainly been a rise in popularity for things featuring serial killers and sociopaths (Dexter, I Am Not a Serial Killer, We Need to Talk About Kevin, the upcoming American Psycho remake, etc). What is it in the topic and in these characters, in your opinion, that captures the public's attention and the artist's imagination?
I think there's always been a fascination with murder and those who commit it. Serial killers are sort of the boogeymen of the modern age. We know there's no such things as vampires or werewolves -- you can put away the garlic and wolfbane. But serial killers are real. They exist. In the U.S., it's estimated that there are up to 35 of them active at any point in time. So right now, there are a few dozen guys out there planning their next murder. And for all you or I know, one of them could be the guy who lives next door. And maybe this time you or I fit his particular fantasy. In a world in which science has disproven and discarded our most ancient terrors, the most frightening thing of all is the thing that we KNOW to be real and, at the same time, un-knowable. Ted Bundy worked at a rape crisis center. John Wayne Gacy was a popular party-thrower. These guys look like us and act like us and they blend in, just like the werewolf that seems normal when the moon isn't full.
Only these guys are REAL, and their actions are both horrific and completely insane to anyone but themselves. They are also each unique unto themselves. I think when you combine all of that, you come up with something that grabs everyone's imagination.
Serial killers all seem to be known by either their full name or some sort of tag (nickname seems far too innocuous a word); since First/Middle/Last is a bit boring, what would your tag be if YOU were a serial killer? (Be warned: this may be used as evidence against you in a court of law... O_O)
I would probably go back to my Springsteen-obsession and call myself The Boss. :)
Anything you really want readers to know that I didn't touch on?
I hope people enjoy the book. There's a lot more to come; the story has only just begun!
To enter, leave a comment below about why you want to read the book OR tell me the thing you found most interesting about Barry's interview (with me or with Libba) Make sure I have a way to contact you (if your profile contains your info, there's no need to leave your email address. If it doesn't, for your own protection I would recommend formatting it as such: "email AT domain.com" - tricks the bots a bit) +1 additional entry for each place you spread the word about this interview; please provide links. International (void where prohibited by law) Ends 4/13 5/1!THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED; WINNER HAS BEEN NOTIFIED! =D
That's it! Good luck to all of you, and even if you don't win, make sure to pick up a copy of this book!