The secret behind The Secret to Lying

The Secret to Lying took me almost five years to write. Actually, it took me four months to write the first draft, and a little over four years to rewrite it many many times and get it right. For me, though, it was worth it. As far as I know, there isn’t a book like this out there (which makes it a bit hard to summarize). Maybe the best way to describe it is to imagine the love child of The Catcher in the Rye and The Matrix with a twist of romance. The book deals with issues of image, loneliness, pranks, relationships, mortality, demons, self-destructive behaviors, and pancake enchiladas. Like I said, it’s a strange book. Then again, reality is a strange place.

For what it’s worth, five things from this book are taken from my life:

1) Like James, I grew up in corn country, deep in the flatlands of Illinois (although my parents are very different from James’s P&M).

2) I graduated from the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, one of the only publicly funded residential high schools in the country —a place very similar to ASMA, where James goes to school.

3) I was suspended from IMSA a few times, and nearly expelled.

4) Two of my closest friends were nicknamed Dickie and Heinous.

5) I can lucid dream — meaning I’m awake in my dreams and can fly and have superpowers, and sometimes, my dreams are consecutive, so one night’s dream picks up where a previous night’s left off. Also, I often dream in layers (kind of like in Inception).

And that’s where the similarities between James and me end. Even though I based some of the events in this book off my own experiences, as James took shape on the page, he became very much his own person and started behaving differently from me. I hope you’ll check it out.

Okay, here’s an embarrassing picture of me from high school. I’m the guy with the green hair on the bottom, second in from the right (green to match the dress of my girlfriend at the time who was going to prom with her ex-boyfriend —long story). Also included in this picture are some of my friends who inspired the characters of Dickie and Heinous (but I can’t say who they are, because Heinous is a lawyer now and I don’t want him to sue me).

At that moment, the mother ship landed.

At that moment, the mother ship landed.


  1. […] Recently, though, I was asked to write a letter to my teen self for the website, Dear Teen Me. Here’s the response I sent them, or see below for just the letter part. I’m not proud of many of the things I did, but I think I understand more now why I was that way, and how I could have been different. I tried to keep my advice down to 10 simple things. Plus, I included a prom picture of myself with green hair (for more on why I dyed my hair for prom, try this). […]

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