I’ve always been a pretty picky movie-goer and reader. Most of what I see and read ultimately disappoints me (even if I usually end up being somewhat entertained along the way).

When I was younger, I used to ask myself, “Why isn’t every movie Raiders of the Lost Ark?” These days, I might also ask myself, “Why isn’t every book The Hunger Games?”

Why isn’t every project … you know … good?

(Check out the whole article on my website!)

i-dont-know95 asked: Are you going to make another book in the Russel Middlebrook series? Also is there going to a second movie for the second book

Yup, the plan is for there to be at least one more book (set a few years in the future, with Russel in college). It should be out in late 2014 or early 2015. 

As for another movie, I know the producers would like to do it, but I think it’s unlikely at this point. I hope so though! :-)

Anonymous asked: So, I had a friend who kept my secret. She then told people and now my whole grade knows I'm gay. I'm being bullied mercilessly but I still have a lot of friends. How do I deal with this?

The good news is that you still have a lot of friends. I think that’s the key here — the thing to focus on. They’re your support. Tell them that you’re being picked on. Just letting them know exactly what bullying is, and what it feels like for you, might/should encourage them to intervene. It sounds funny, but if they’re straight, they might not quite understand what “anti-gay bullying” is. Give them the opportunity to help you out here.

If that doesn’t work, or even if it does, talk to a teacher or counselor (or maybe a parent?). Schools are required BY LAW to be safe places for all students. Once you report what’s going on, they’re required to act. You didn’t say where you live, but schools in many states are finally starting to take these issues seriously. That said, if you live in a place where it isn’t safe to tell the administration — where that will only make it worse — it might be best to stay quiet. Your personal safety is the most important thing you. But I do hope there’s at least one adult adult in your life you can tell. Being bullied is absolutely not acceptable! (And I hope I don’t have to tell you that you’ve done nothing wrong, and you don’t deserve ANY of this!)

And what’s with the friend who outed you? I assume she has a good explanation, or at the very least, she’s given you a very heartfelt apology. She needs to understand that this wasn’t her secret to tell.

My heart goes out to you! I definitely think you should tell your friends what’s going on. And I really hope you have an adult in your life that you can have intervene on your behalf.

Brent

Anonymous asked: Does Kevin and Russell have a happy ending?

Oh, I can’t answer that! You have to read the books to find out. :-)

Besides, what is a “happy ending” anyway? There always more story to tell — another book to write. 

All that said, in general, I do believe that happy endings (of books) have a place in the world. I’m not against them in theory.

rusianblue asked: I thought the movie turned out pretty darn good - true. I like the book better than the book. for me its kinda more realistic :)

Good to know. :-)

stuffffffffffffffffffff1212 asked: I really loved the book Geography Club. The movie was good, I don't think the movie did the book any real justice though. The cast was great, everything in that aspect was great. There was just so much left out, things didn't happen the way they happened in the book. I really wish they followed the book more. Hopefully this is not the only Russel Middlebrook series movie.

I hope it’s not the only movie either. ;-)

It’s sweet of you to say you enjoyed the book. I’m probably the worst person to judge which works better (I may be a little biased!), but I agree with you about the terrific cast, and also the “look” of the movie, which was totally top-notch. And, of course, I’m incredibly grateful for the attention that the movie has given to my books.

One thing I’ve learned working on this and other movie projects is that there are a LOT more people involved than in writing and publishing a book. So that requires a lot more compromise. That can be a good thing, because God knows I don’t have all the answers. But it can be frustrating too, because, well, it requires me to compromise, damn it! And in the specific case of GC, I wasn’t involved on the creative side in any way, apart from writing the book.

But in the end, the GC movie experience was a really positive one for me, because (a) I thought the movie turned out pretty darn good, and (2) I met a lot of great people along the way. All that said, I hope I get to make these other movie projects of mine (in the works now), because I would like to be more involved in the final product. We’ll see!

Thanks again for the kind words.

Brent Hartinger

salsastar asked: I ask you a question before, but I'm a writer for my school paper, & my last article was a review on GC, and we'd love to do an interview. We have four questions in mind. First question, What was your writing process for the book? Second question, What made you think to write the book(s)? Third question, How did you think the book would sell? Did you ever imagine it spawning a movie and three sequels? Last but not least, are there any other books coming in the Series? Thanks in advance!

I hope I’m not too late on this. Sorry, there tends to always be a delay in my getting back to people. Too much email!

(1) My writing process is basically this. I brainstorm, going on walks, writing notes, trying to come up with a story idea — something that excites me that doesn’t feel like it’s ever been told before. Once I have what seems like a good idea, I try to develop it in the form of an outline. Basically, I write the story up in ten pages or less. If I think that this IS a good idea (and most of the time, I don’t, so the process stops right there), then I start to write the project itself. I become sort of manic, just trying hard to get a rough draft down in my computer. I don’t really care about the writing at this point, and I often even leave certain scenes blank and move forward to the scenes that most excite me at the time. I write AT LEAST 2000 words a day — I don’t let myself go to bed until I’m done. Once I’m done with the rough draft, I go back and fill in all the blanks and revise everything. This can take a long time — almost as long as the first draft. But once that’s done, it goes to my partner, who gives me his feedback. Then I rewrite based on his notes, and send it out to four or five of my friends. I rewrite it AGAIN based on their notes. Then it finally goes to my agent and/or editor, and then rewrite it at least one more time based on their notes.

Nutshell? The old adage that “writing is rewriting” is really true for me. The “first draft” is really only about 1/4 of the process. 

The other thing that’s true for me is that writing involved a lot of feedback — and a lot of criticism! Thin-skinned people shouldn’t be writers. Seriously.

(2) Why did I write the Russel Middlebrook books? It’s a simple answer: at the time, I didn’t see anything like them, and I really wanted to read books like mine. I figured if I liked the idea other people would too.

You can read the whole, convoluted story of how and why I wrote the books here. (And feel free to quote!) It also answers your “Did I think it would sell?” question.

http://brenthartinger.com/2013/05/07/how-many-times-was-geography-club-rejected-the-whole-story/

(3) Sadly, it’s getting kind of hard to remember what my exact expectations for the project were, but I can tell you that for almost all my projects, I alternate between thinking they’re great (and that they’ll be wildly successful!), and thinking I’ve missed what I set out to do and I’ve ended up with a book or screenplay that’s a complete failure. 

As with most things in life, in most cases, the truth is usually somewhere in between. 

But one thing that HAS surprised me is how quickly LGBT-themed works have been financially viable. When I was starting out (in the 1990s), EVERYONE told me I was wasting my time. Turns out I wasn’t at all! I was just ahead of my time.

(4) I haven’t started book #5 (although I know what it will be about — it jumps ahead five years), and I can’t say for sure that I’ll write it. I have lots of other projects that I also want to write. But I think I will eventually, probably for late 2015.

Good questions! Thanks for asking em. :-)


Brent Hartinger

seashellprimavera asked: A big hello from a new found Aussie fan!!! Firstly I'd like to congratulate you on your success of your books that have recently become a smash hit movie (well I thought so!) really shows a more masculine gay guy that I can kind of relate too. Secondly I wanted to know, we're you personally satisfied with the outcome of the movie, as a creative thinker myself, I automatically vision something in its completed form, so was the movie how you pictured it to be. Thanks, keep up the great work xx

Hey there! Sorry for the delay in answering you. Appreciate the kind words, and the positive attitude. In my mind, it’s a smash hit AND an Oscar nominee!

One of the things I really like about the time we live in now is that we are finally seeing a diversity of gay characters — not just feminine/masculine, but also in terms of race and class. So much more interesting than even ten or five years ago!

Regarding the movie itself … movies are a very very different beast than books. There are so many people involved, and there is so much money at stake. So, unlike books, there are many many voices contributing to the final product. This is not a good thing or a bad thing, it’s just a fact. I knew all this in advance. I also knew that my contribution to the movie pretty much ended when I sold the rights. The producers had a very clear vision. They loved the book, but the movie was always going to be a somewhat different thing. 

Now even given all that, if the movie had ended up a piece of crap, I think I still would have been very frustrated and disappointed. It’s one thing to say, “The movie is the movie.” I think I would’ve felt like it was a wasted opportunity, because I’ve always felt there was a good movie buried in that book.

But I was REALLY lucky in that the finished product didn’t turn out to be a piece of crap. It’s a very good film! So even if it’s not exactly what I saw in my mind, I’m really pleased with it, and proud to have my name associated.

So that’s my long-winded way of saying the experience was a really interesting one, and very very positive. (It also helps that I have a couple of other movie projects in the works where I’m a more involved. So I got to see the creative process from the outside, now with these other movies I’m experiencing it more on the inside.)

The creative life is a very very frustrating one (much of the time), but also occasionally a very very satisfying one. As I’m sure you already know! :-)

Brent

shazamy asked: A few questions... First, In Two Thousand Pounds Russel says he had sex with one of his love interests...he says their name is a palindrom yet I can't seem to think of one of them that is...who was it?! Second question is will we get any more Russel stories or books?And finally, if you were asked to be the casting Director for the rest of the books to be turned into movies who would you cast to play all the new main characters in the series? No recasting of the characters already on film.

Thanks for the questions. Here are the answers. ;-)

(1) Otto! Incidentally, I’m rewriting the story to include flashbacks to Russel’s three sexual encounters. I figure if I’m going to TALK about safe sex, it might as well SHOW it too (tastefully, natch). Plus, I’m not above using sex to sell this project, since I believe in the cause of safe sex/fighting HIV/AIDS so much. Check back soon! 

(2) I think there will be another book, but I haven’t started it yet. There are a number of other projects I’m working on (including another gay teen movie and another gay teen book) that I want to get just right first. If I write the book, it will probably take place five years in the future anyway, with Russel in college.

(3) The problem with casting teen actors in teen movies is that it takes sooooo long to get a movie made that the actor you like has usually grown up by the time the movie is finally ready to be filmed (and I’m totally serious about this — it’s a big problem). That said, if they starting shooting right now, I really love Dylan O’Brian (TEEN WOLF — he’s more interesting than all the other actors, even in the lead, IMHO). I’d cast him as Otto. And maybe Spencer Boldman (from LAB RATS) as Web. As for Wade … well, I was going to say Michael B. Jordan, but I just looked him up and saw that he’s 26 now. See what I mean?!

Brent 

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# Geography Club