PW: You've won a Grammy for your song writing, two Edgars for Broadway plays and multiple Tonys for your Broadway play The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and you have just been nominated for a Tony in the Best Play category for your current show on Broadway, Good Night, Gracie. What made you decide to write a novel [Where the Truth Lies]?
Rupert Holmes: I like to do something new all the time. I like to change the medium I work in, and part of that is, it keeps me young. I'm always a novice. It's always my first time.
PW: How was writing a novel different from your other work?
RH: There are so many things you can do in a novel that you can't do in a stage play or a series. And what I longed for was to write for an audience of one. Now, when I worked in nightclubs sometimes, I played for an audience of one, but to write comedy that does not have to amuse 1,500 people all at the same time is a very different and intimate thing.
PW: Your central character is a female journalist with a big book deal to write about a Lewis and Martin kind of comic act caught up in a scandal involving "a dead girl in New Jersey." Where did the idea for the book come from?
RH: A comedy team requires the same degree of trust as a trapeze act. I thought about how vulnerable and dangerous that is, and I thought that might make an interesting backdrop for a tale of intrigue.
PW: How did your real dealings with Hollywood affect the story?
RH: I've been close to a number of famous people in my career and I am just so aware how hard it is for them to preserve their privacy and how difficult it would be for them to keep a secret.
PW: Why did you decide to place it in the '70s?
RH: It was a very luscious time and everyone thought you could get away with everything and that you'd never pay a price for it. The mores of the time were almost unforgivable, but it makes for a very interesting setting.
PW: One of the characters in the novel is a New Jersey mob boss. Was he really based on someone you knew?
RH: When I was first in the record business in the late '60s, there were still lots of little labels with lots of connections with people in the construction and murder business. They liked me, God help me, and it frightened me to death. Sally Santoro is based on two different fellows that I knew whose nails and shoes were equally well glossed. And they really talked the way you see gangsters talking in movies.
PW: With all of your accomplishments people still persist on calling you the piña colada guy for having written that overplayed hit from the late '70s. What do you say when people ask about that?
RH: I envision my tombstone and it's in the shape of a giant pineapple. Actually, I have a two-part answer: "Yes," and "I'm very, very sorry." But that song gave me the luxury of three years to write The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
PW: Random House is releasing a single written by you and performed by Melissa Manchester to promote the book. How did this come about?
RH: Movies get title songs—why shouldn't novels? Why wait until they make the movie? I think it's just that I don't know how to write a work—even if it's prose—without writing musical accompaniment to go with it..
PW: The protagonist is only revealed only as K. O'Connor and the reader never learns her first name. What is it?
RH: You're the first to know that K is her middle initial. I've always loved that in the novel Rebecca, and in the movie, you never know the name of the heroine, because Rebecca is so overwhelming, and that the protagonist is Mrs. DeWinter, but you never know her [first] name. And Rebecca is one of several types of books that are role models and touchstones for Where the Truth Lies.
PW: Is your next novel a mystery?
RH: I think anything I write will have to have a mystery in it. Most stories have mysteries in them. Life is a mystery story where we don't necessarily get the answer.