“What do you feel right now? Knowing that your book is gonna hit shelves in a few months.”
The questioner was speaking about Blood of My Blood, the final book in my I Hunt Killers trilogy, the story of Jasper “Jazz” Dent, the son of an infamous serial killer. Jazz wrestles not just with his parentage, but also with the ideas and terrors planted in him from an earlier age by his father. The books are bloody, yes, but the psychological elements are far more gruesome than any physical gore.
I responded to the questioner, but with a little time passing, I realized I had a fuller answer, now that I've had some time to think about it.
How do I feel? With Blood of My Blood only a few weeks away? Nervous? Worried? Excited?
Something like all three, but truthfully the predominant feeling these days is curiosity.
How are readers going to feel about the book? Are they going to like it? Are they going to hate it? Is it going to shock the hell out of them?
I very, very much want it to shock the hell out of them. I want readers to feel a wide range of emotions when reading Blood of My Blood, but most of all, I want it to shock them, and I hope it does.
I'll know soon enough.
I've spent five years of my life on this particular series. I began researching in the fall of 2009. Wrote the beginning of I Hunt Killers on Christmas Day of that year.
I Hunt Killers, then the sequel, Game, then the prequel novella, Lucky Day, then Blood of My Blood, the page proof to which I wrapped up just a few months ago. Five years. It went by in an instant.
And now there's nothing more for me to do but to wait. To wait and see how readers feel. Because my feelings now are moot. All that matters is reader reaction. Did I nail it or did I screw the pooch?
I'm not afraid to find out. But I am curious as hell. I can't imagine investing five years of your life in something and not caring how people respond to it.
And there's also, I admit, a fair amount of trepidation along with the curiosity...but not related to the book itself.
You see, I Hunt Killers and its companion books have been, without a doubt, the most successful books of my career. And now they're over and I am moving on to other things.
How many of my Killers readers will follow me to my next -- very different -- project? And the one beyond that? How many will shrug and say, "It's not about serial killers? Pass."
I don't know. I have no way of knowing.
Before I wrote I Hunt Killers, I wrote many other books. I am very proud of them, but most people who've read Killers typically don't know they exist. Which is fine. They like their serial killers and I'm happy and proud to have delivered.
But I wonder: When Blood of My Blood hits shelves, is that it for me? Will I ever see as successful a book again?
Curiosity. I know how Blood of My Blood ends, but I don't know what happens after that.
Maybe, just maybe, it will shock me.
Called a “YA rebel-author” by Kirkus Reviews, Barry Lyga has published twelve novels in various genres in his eight-year career, including the New York Times bestselling I Hunt Killers and the controversial, award-winning Boy Toy. His books have been or are slated to be published in a dozen different languages in North America, Australia, Europe, and Asia. Visit him online at barrylyga.com.
The opinions expressed in guest posts are the views of the designated authors and do not necessarily reflect those of YA Highway members.
If you would like to write a guest post for us, submit a proposal here!