My name is Brent Hartinger. I write novels and screenplays.
This website and newsletter are about my books and movies — and also the story of my career. Click here if it's your first visit.
As a boy, I was always working on some creative project. I wrote stories, put on plays, made movies, played role-playing games, and wrote and edited my own independent school newspaper every week from grades two through eight.
As an adult, I’ve been lucky enough to make my living as a writer, mostly novels and screenplays. I’ve published fourteen novels, had more than ten screenplays optioned, and had two of my projects turned into feature films — with quite a few more movies in the works.
With this website and newsletter, I’m doing something different than I’ve ever done before: I’m telling the whole truth about the books and movies I’ve written, and my writing career in general — or at least the truth as I see it. And that includes my disappointments and failures.
In other words, the real story.
I wish more writers did this, but I also understand why we don’t. We all want to portray ourselves as successful as possible, because we want to be more successful.
And I have had some successes. My first novel, Geography Club (2003), was the story of a gay teenager named Russel Middlebrook. It was one of the very first in a wave of break-out LGBTQ young adult fiction, and became a big hit. It was later adapted as a feature film.
I went on to publish eight more novels about Russel and his quirky friends.
I also write mysteries and thrillers. Two of my books are puzzle box thrillers: my 2005 YA novel, Grand & Humble, which is being developed as a feature film, and my 2016 YA novel, Three Truths and a Lie, which was nominated for an Edgar Award. Meanwhile, my 2007 YA mystery, Project Pay Day, which has already been adapted as a feature film, is much lighter. All three of these books have twist endings of which I am very proud.
I try hard to write books that are page-turners and commercial, and movies that are fast-paced and accessible, and I think I’ve often succeeded. If I had to describe my own writing projects, I’d say: “Strong hook, plot, and voice, with characters that pop. Not artsy, self-indulgent, or pretentious, but still thoughtful and smart with something to say.”
First and foremost, I see myself as a storyteller.
But as I said above, with this website and newsletter, I’m telling a different kind of story. It’s a “behind the scenes” look at my books, movies, and writing career — warts and all.
And there have been a lot of warts.
To see what I mean, here are the real stories behind my movie projects — all the “behind the scenes” things I’ve never publicly talked about before.
And here is where you can read all about my books — both details about them and also the real stories behind how they came to be published:
I used to think all the crazy, infuriating things that have happened to me as a writer were unusually bad — that I had bad karma from a previous life, or maybe an evil fairy placed a curse on me the day I was born. But the older I get, the more I think my experience is fairly typical of a life in the arts, which is by its nature frustrating and unpredictable, with so many things completely out of your control.
Hopefully, you’ll find this interesting.
And for the record, yes, I still love writing, and I have no regrets about the life-choices I’ve made.
If you have any questions or comments about any of this, or if you’re looking to interview me for your podcast or article, email me. You can also follow or contact me on social media: Twitter or Facebook.
And please subscribe to my newsletter to get future updates on me and my writing career:
Incidentally, I also love to travel. In fact, I no longer have a home. For the last six years, I’ve traveled the world with my husband, writer Michael Jensen, moving to a new country every few months — while continuing to write my books and screenplays. Here are all the places we’ve lived for at least a month:
I write a different newsletter specifically about Michael’s and my "digital nomad" journey, and you can subscribe at Brent and Michael Are Going Places. This is the place I most frequently post new writing.
This website and newsletter are free, but you can support me and my writing with a one-time donation of any amount here:
My Official Biography
BRENT HARTINGER is the author of many novels, including the LGBTQ teen classic Geography Club (2003) and eight companion books: The Order of the Poison Oak (2005); Double Feature: Attack of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies/Bride of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies (2007); The Elephant of Surprise (2013); The Thing I Didn’t Know I Didn’t Know (2014); Barefoot in the City of Broken Dreams (2015); The Road to Amazing (2016); The Otto Digmore Difference (2017); and The Otto Digmore Decision (2019).
His other books include Grand & Humble (2006), which won the Scandiuzzi Children's Book Award and is being developed as a feature film; Three Truths and a Lie (2016), which was nominated for an Edgar Award; and Project Pay Day (2008), which was adapted as a feature film in 2021, co-starring David Corenswet, based on the author’s screenplay.
Geography Club was also adapted as a feature film, in 2013, co-starring Scott Bakula, Alex Newell, and Ana Gasteyer.
Brent has also won the Lambda and GLAAD Awards.
Also a screenwriter, more than ten of Brent’s screenplays have been optioned for film, and five are currently in various stages of production, some with major studios and production companies.
Brent has won first place in eight screenwriting contests, including the L.A. Comedy Festival, Fresh Voices, StoryPros, and Script Magazine’s Screenwriting in the Sun Award, and he has placed or received honorable mention in many others, including the PAGE Awards, Launch Pad, Scriptapalooza, Script Pipeline, and the Final Draft Big Break Awards.
Brent currently has no permanent address, and instead continuously travels the world with his husband, writer Michael Jensen. Their "digital nomad" journey, which has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning and in Forbes, is documented on their website Brent and Michael Are Going Places.
Finally, Brent has taught creative writing at Vermont College, and in 2004, he co-founded the entertainment website AfterElton.com, which was sold to MTV/Viacom in 2006 in a multi-million-dollar deal. In 1990, he co-founded one of the country’s first LGBTQ youth support groups, in his hometown of Tacoma, Washington.