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The Lying Game by Stephen Goldenberg

Published on Friday, October 25, 2013 by

TheLyingGamePaul Darling is desperate to escape his mundane childhood home in boring Bournemouth but, on leaving school, he gets stuck in a dead end job on the local newspaper until a chance meeting with an old friend leads to a move to London.

Once there, he finds himself on a rapid rise up the rollercoaster – friends in high places, an aristocratic girlfriend and, finally, he’s headhunted by a mysterious quasi-government organisation. Is he about to become the new James Bond?

And then the rollercoaster starts to plunge downhill.

What are the main themes of your book?

The struggle to maintain personal integrity in a society where lying and manipulation have become too pervasive. On a less grandiose note, I wanted to explore a young man’s journey into adulthood with all its confusions, crises and moral dilemmas. I wanted to write a rattling good yarn with elements of a thriller (hopefully a page turner) but I hoped that it would also make readers think about the way our society has been slowly changing in the last 30 years through media manipulation and an increasingly surveillance-heavy regime (more relevant than ever after the Edward Snowden revelations!).

Who or what inspired your story?

I was a teacher and, in my last job, a new Headteacher was appointed who was determined to get rid of as many of the existing staff as possible. He did this by bullying and lying. It was a frightening experience. For example, I had to get witnesses to sign and date statements confirming that I had completed and delivered documents to him otherwise he would deny he ever received them. He also created a complete fantasy around his past life and experience. When sharing my experiences with others, I found that this style of so-called leadership was not uncommon. At the same time, I read a very good article by Kurt Vonnegut (sorry, I don’t have any references for it) in which he stated that the world was increasingly being run by psychopaths.

What do you like best about your primary characters?

In my previous novel, I had created a very sympathetic main character and used a 3rd person narrative. In this one, I wanted the main character to be more ambiguous and, because lying and misinformation were at the centre of the story, I liked having him as a 1st person unreliable narrator. I also relished creating two clear villains who are closely based on people I knew.

What are their worst peculiarities?

For my main character, Paul Darling, it’s his desperation to climb the greasy pole to the top and the way he gets sucked in more and more to doing anything to get there.

How does your main character evolve?

The worst thing about the situation I describe above was the way in which people I had thought of as friends and loyal colleagues became the Headteacher’s conniving dupes, once they were offered promotions and other incentives. Then, when it was too late, they would start to feel bad about what they were doing (especially when he started to turn against them as well). Paul Darling goes on the same journey and, like them, repents and tries to put things right but it is too late.

What’s the principal message that you want to send to your audience?

First and foremost I want them to enjoy the story but, on the way, I hope they consider that I have written a book that, while it is a work of fiction set in the 1980s, is very relevant to what is happening now. I hope they think carefully about the decisions they make in their personal and professional lives and try at all times to maintain their integrity.

What’s the nicest thing that anyone has said about your book?

Most commonly people have said they found it hugely enjoyable and very tense. One reader said she found it made her so tense that it was hard to keep reading towards the end (although she did get to the end). The one review I have so far on Amazon (see the link below) I think sums up very succinctly what I hoped readers would get from the book.

Where can we purchase it?

Matador publications and Amazon.

Also available as an ebook from Amazon.

About the Author

Snapshot_20130709Stephen Goldenberg was born in London and has lived there for most of his life. He studied Law at Oxford University but subsequently decided to train to be a teacher of English and Media Studies. During his teaching career, he co-edited and wrote articles for a radical education magazine, edited and produced teaching books and resources for schools’ television programmes and edited two books of English teaching resources for Hutchinsons. Stephen contributed short stories to a publication ‘Teachers as Writers’ and to ‘Waterfront’, a magazine published by Waterman’s Art Centre. He also wrote numerous articles for other education publications including the Times Educational Supplement and broadcast on educational issues on Radio 4.

In the mid-1980s, Stephen wrote a novel, ‘The Lesson’, which received some positive feedback. He self-published his second novel, ‘Stony Ground’, a few years ago.

Stephen now divides his time between London and an old stone farm-house in South-West France which he has renovated with his partner. His next novel is set in South-West France and London.

As well as writing, Stephen is an avid reader and enjoys walking, cycling, cinema, theatre and football. He also works part-time as a volunteer story minister at The Ministry of Stories in Hoxton, London.

Social Links: Goodreads

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