Friday, August 26, 2016



A weekend retreat in the woods and an innocent game of three truths and a lie go horribly wrong in this high-octane psychological thriller filled with romantic suspense by a Lambda Award–winning author.

Deep in the forest, four friends gather for a weekend of fun.

Truth #1: Rob is thrilled about the weekend trip. It’s the perfect time for him to break out of his shell . . . to be the person he really, really wants to be.

Truth #2: Liam, Rob’s boyfriend, is nothing short of perfect. He’s everything Rob could have wanted. They’re perfect together. Perfect.

Truth #3: Mia has been Liam’s best friend for years . . . long before Rob came along. They get each other in a way Rob could never, will never, understand.

Truth #4: Galen, Mia’s boyfriend, is sweet, handsome, and incredibly charming. He’s the definition of a Golden Boy . . . even with the secrets up his sleeve.

One of these truths is a lie . . . and not everyone will live to find out which one it is.


Brent, I can’t believe it’s been over a year since you’ve been here. Catch us up on what you’ve been doing.

Time does fly, doesn't it? It's always strange to be talking about a new book, because whenever I release a book, it's usually a project I was working on three years before. I'm currently working on three new projects. But of course they won't be out for three years, so there's no point in talking about them now! That said, I'm very proud of Three Truths and a Lie, so I'm happy to talk about it.

Where did you get the idea for Three Truths and a Lie?
It was as simple as my visiting a remote cabin in a rain forest on the Olympic Peninsula near Seattle and thinking, "Oh, my God, this would make a fantastic setting for a book!"

Everyone knows what a tropical rain forest is, but these are temperate rain forests, which means they're cold and dark and misty. They're also incredibly lush, with ancient trees, and hanging moss. It's like everything is growing, but nothing has changed in millions of years. Talk about a forest primeval!

But as one of the characters keeps saying, "Nothing is exactly what it seems in this place." This is very much a psychological thriller.

I'm not one of those authors who says that a location is a "character." It's a location, not a character! Give me a break. But I'll grant you that the location here is very specific and very important, and very much a reflection of the characters' feelings.
Then again, that's what I think the location should be in almost every novel.

What's the biggest lie you ever told?
I don't think I've ever told any truly harmful lies, but I guess I've been known to practice the art of "spin." I used to work as an entertainment journalist, and I interviewed many, many famous people—some of the biggest names you can imagine. I confess there were times when I complimented a movie star on a movie or a TV show that I didn't particularly care for. But I'd like to think I was just being polite!

Of course! I know this is an unfair question, but of the books you’ve written, do you have a favorite?

I think it's a totally fair question! I always love my most recent book, which in this case is Three Truths and a Lie.

But among my backlist, my favorite books are Grand & Humble, which is a twisty puzzle box thriller (like Three Truths and a Lie!). It has a twist ending, and no one ever guesses it correctly. Better still, it's currently available for free as an e-book in all platforms.

My other favorite book is Barefoot in the City of Broken Dreams, which is the fifth book in my Russel Middlebrook series (now seven books!). It tells the story of Russel trying to make it as a screenwriter in Los Angeles, but it's mostly my own story too. I knew as I was living it that it would make a good book. And I think it did! It's my most personal, anyway.

What's your favorite thing about the writing process?
Having written. Being done. But also having something complete, something you can point to and say, "I did that."

There are many, many, MANY frustrations that come along with being a writer (and they all mostly boil down to rejection, failure, and criticism—the unholy trinity!).

But that sense of completion is something that we writers get but not every profession does. I've written twelve published novels now (and a bunch of unpublished ones!), and I've had eight screen projects optioned. That makes me feel quite satisfied!

It should! Do you have a writing routine?
I work Monday through Friday, from about ten until five. But it takes me a while to get rolling. If you walked into my office, I'll be doing much more work later in the day, and later in the week.

In terms of each project, I do a "concept" outline, then a more detailed outline. Then if I can convince someone to buy the damn thing, I do a terrible first draft (that no one sees except me!). Then I rewrite it, and show it to my first reader. Then I rewrite again based on his feedback, and show it to some other early readers. Then I rewrite again based on their feedback. Then I show it to my editor. Then I rewrite again based on his or her feedback (often more than once!), and then I show it to my beta-readers, and rewrite at least one more time.

Then I drop dead of exhaustion!

Do you write every day?

If I'm writing, I'm writing. If I'm not writing, I'm soooooooo not writing! I don't keep a notebook, I don't write for an hour in the morning, I don't even THINK about writing!

For me, writing is insanely hard. I enjoy having done it, and occasionally I'm riding the wave, which feels euphoric. But for the most part, it's a cold, hard, never-ending slog. I don't write for pleasure, so when I want to be having fun, I don't write.

Makes sense. What do you wish you’d done differently when you first started in the publishing business?
I wish I'd known that no one can edit their own work. Seriously, no writer I've ever met has any perspective on his or her own work! You NEED outside eyes—as many as possible. It's the only way to produce anything good.

Honestly, since I discovered first-readers and beta-readers, I think my work is so much better. Writing is about communication, and the most important thing to know is whether or not you've succeeded in actually communicating! Otherwise you're writing for an audience of one: yourself.

What do you think is hardest aspect of writing a book?
For me, it goes from hardest to easiest. The outline is the hardest (but it's still essential). The first draft is slightly less hard. The second draft is slightly less hard than that. And so on, all the way through copy-editing.

Then you get to "book promotion," and things get really hard again! Ha!

Agreed! What’s more important—characters or plot?
Well, character is important, but plot is most important. I've always seen myself as a storyteller. The point is tell a story. Things have to happen. It needs to be going somewhere. When you're done, it needs to feel complete, like there was some kind of conscious, intentional resolution (even an ambiguous one). Personally, I need to feel like there was some kind of point to the books I read, and the author wasn't just jerking me around, or being completely self-indulgent. Self-expression is fine, but it's not the same thing as telling a story.

For me, you can have a story with weak characters (though it'll be a bad story). But a story with no real plot is not a story, and it shouldn't be a book. Or at least it's not a book I want to read!

You'd think this would be obvious, but I feel like I read books all the time that have virtually no story or plot.

Good point. What do you know now that you wish you knew then?
That the stories you hear about overnight sensations are exceptions to the rule, and even then, that kind of success doesn't always last. Most writers struggle in obscurity for years, with little or no acclaim or financial reward. Some eventually break out, but the vast majority do not. I think it’s interesting that I have a lot of very bitter writer-friends, but that none of my doctor or lawyer friends are bitter!

What do you like to do when there’s nothing to do?
Read, swim, hike, bike, eat out with friends, walk on the beach. And not write!

Your book, Geography Club, was made into a movie. Do you have any new movies in the works?
I do! I have three movies in the works right now!

I've been working with some producers on one project, a very personal teen drama, since 2009! But it finally seems to be coming together.

My 2007 novel Project Sweet Life was just optioned by some producers, and I wrote the screenplay.

And finally, earlier this year, I had an animated movie script of mine optioned by a Chinese company. I said to my rep, "Really? But it won't be seen in the United States." He said, "It'll be seen by up to a billion people in China, and their movie industry is already three times the size of Hollywood. Their money is real!"

So I took the deal, and sure enough, their money is real.

What’s next?
Right now I'm pitching projects to different editors, which is hard (as I said), but also exciting. I've come up with three different ideas, all thrillers, and I'm dying to get a couple of them under contract so I can start writing them!


Brent Hartinger is a novelist and screenwriter. His first novel, Geography Club, was adapted as a feature film co-starring Scott Bakula, and he's since published eleven other novels, most recently, Three Truths and a Lie. As a screenwriter, Brent has three different movies in the works with various producers. Visit him at

Connect with Brent:

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Buy the book:

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Watch the trailer:

Book trailer