How Long is a Piece of Rope: Helen Hanson

3 Lies by Helen Hanson is available for Kindle for $2.99 from

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At CIA headquarters, a young officer discovers that terrorists may have commandeered their computer systems to launch an unauthorized mission. Elsewhere, conspirators abduct nine people to manipulate the rules of their game. Two disparate ambitions — Clint Masters becomes the reluctant link in the chain of danger.

Ever since Clint’s almost ex-wife dumped him, he bobs along the Massachusetts coast in a sailboat with his black lab for company. He avoids all forms of technology, a counterintuitive effort for the burned-out founder of CatSat Laboratories. Tired of clutching the brass ring, he needed to untether, step off the corporate treadmill, and smell a flower. Fortunately, he met one, a beautiful, unspoiled woman who doesn’t treat him like a commodity. His relationship with Beth offers more promise than his marriage ever did, even if she is on dialysis for her recovering kidneys, until she disappears.

In spite of the evidence, her family refuses to admit she’s in danger. Without routine dialysis, she won’t survive. As Clint realizes that he loves Beth, damn-near ex-wife Paige sashays back into his life with disturbing news.

While the CIA young gun tracks his quarry, Clint enlists the help of two men to find Beth, a blithe Brit named Merlin, and Todd, his playboy partner-in-tech. But Clint must find Beth before her kidneys fail. And before someone unloads a bullet in his head.


Helen Hanson writes thrillers about desperate people with a high-tech bent.  Hackers.  The CIA. Industry titans.  Guys on sailboats.  Mobsters. Their personal maelstroms pit them against unrelenting forces willing to kill.  Throughout the journey, they try to find some truth, a little humor, and their humanity — from either end of the trigger.

Helen directed operations for high-tech manufacturers of semiconductors, video games, software, and computers. Her reluctant education behind the Redwood Curtain culminated in a B.S. in Business Administration with concentrated studies in Computer Science.   She also learned to play a mean game of hacky sack.

She is a licensed private pilot with a ticket for single-engine aircraft.  Helen and her husband spent their first anniversary with their flight instructor studying for the FAA practical. If you were a passenger on a 737 trying to land at SJC in 1995, she sends her most sincere apologies.  Really.

Born in fly-over country, Helen has lived on both coasts, near both borders, and at several locations in between. She lettered in tennis, worked as a machinist, and saw the Clash at the San Francisco Civic Auditorium sometime in the eighties.  She currently lives amid the bricks of Texas with her husband, son, and a dog that composes music with squeaky toys.

Her second novel, DARK POOL, is due for release in Spring 2011, and her third novel is brewing. While Helen writes about the power hungry, she genuinely mistrusts anyone who wants to rule the world.  If you enjoy her books, please consider writing a review.  If you don’t, please be kind.

You can find Helen on her website
But what does Helen have to say on the subjects that matter?

1. 3 Lies is way better than Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë.  Yes, I picked on a dead someone who wouldn’t be able to call me out, but I tried reading this book and couldn’t muster enough concern for Catherine and Heathcliff to start a yawn.  Love Story by Erich Segal was a close second.  One day I’d really like to be as good as John le Carré when he wrote Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.  Sigh.

2. You will love my book if you enjoyed that imaginary novel written by Harlan Coben and Len Deighton titled, A Serious Ride.  But if you’re a fan of Belva Plain steer well clear.
3. .22 caliber subsonic sniper rounds come from the barrel of a gun.  Or, maybe confetti.  In the right hands, confetti can be just as deadly.
4. How do you see the role of food in the contemporary thriller and where does 3 Lies fit into the spectrum?

Is a cocktail olive considered food?  My characters need to keep up their strength.  I enjoy the backdrop of bars and restaurants, so my protagonist hits the scotch at an exclusive eatery, swills beer in the restaurant by the marina, and grocery shops for something other than liquids when forced from his home.

The protagonist of my next novel is a waitress.  Apparently, I hail from the food-obsessed end of this spectrum.  Meanwhile, I’m now hungry.
5. How would it affect the direction 3 Lies takes if the action were moved wholesale to the set of Glee in chapter 7?

There would be some dead young singers.  The officers at CIA headquarters are not going to discuss operational matters with anyone who doesn’t have the proper clearance.  If chapter 7 must take place at a high school, then the cast can either leave or die.

6. When you’re writing, would you rather look out at the sea, or in at your thoughts?

The sea.  Any where.  Any time.  Any sea.  It churns without effort and doesn’t compete with my thoughts.  The ocean plays a major role in 3 Lies and my next novel. A huge wallowing mystery harboring boats, hammerheads, angler fish, submarines, and all manner of underwater imaginings, the sea is the ultimate conjurer of peril, power, and conflict.  Apparently it’s like the food thing again for me.  Meanwhile, I now want to go to the ocean.

7. When writing, do you start at the beginning and keep going, or start at the end and work back?

I’m a linear kind of gal.  When I start a journey, I can’t be certain of the exact stops I might want to make along the way.  Maybe I’ll want to see a roadside gator farm, the guy who spins cups, or the world’s largest rutabaga.  I know where I plan to end and my initial direction, but I can only map the next few attractions at a time. Forward.  Always forward.

8. A great villain or a great hero?

Steak and lobster.  Fish and chips.  Cognac and a Heineken chaser.  Yes, I do want it all.

9. 3 Lies will change the way a reader looks at sat/nav guidance systems.

10. How long is a piece of rope?

Long enough to strangle.

Long enough to reach the ground from the tower.

Long enough to bind his hands behind his back.

Long enough to lash the sail.

Long enough to serve the hangman.


~ by danholloway on June 28, 2011.

4 Responses to “How Long is a Piece of Rope: Helen Hanson”

  1. Thanks, Dan, for hosting me and for the intriguing method to your madness. The answers are fun to read, but your guests are a scary lot.

    All the best!


  2. Ha ha! I used just that word (scary) to describe some of your answers on the Kindle forums today – in a very very good way. I love seeing the way writers’ minds work – especially thriller writers!

  3. I often wonder if Stephen King’s wife ever really sleeps . . .

  4. 🙂 Most people I know who write the really really scary stuff are the loveliest cuddliest people of all. Those who write about beautiful landscapes, though…

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