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HARLAN COBEN: Carey spotlights the New York Times Best-Selling Author and Self-Proclaimed Snazzy Dancer

Be Patient. There’s an interview with Harlan Coben coming.

But first…What on earth, you wonder, you do wonder don’t you, is that?


That is my copy of GONE FOR GOOD by Harlan Coben.  Okay, that was back in the day when I used to color code the good parts in my favorite books in an effort to teach myself to write. By now I’ve forgotten what all the colors stand for, except I’m pretty sure pink is for emotion.  I’ve got this passage (page 64, Gone For Good) marked with a pink sticky, so let’s see:

If Mel was lying on her belly, her feet kicking in the air, she was talking about boys and parties and that nonsense. But when she lay on her back and stared at the ceiling, well, that was for dreams. I thought about her dreams. I thought about how none of them had come true.

“I love you,” I said.

And, as though she could see into my thoughts, Melissa started to cry.

I was right. Pink is for emotion. Which is sort of my point about Harlan Coben novels. You buy them for the twists and turns and wind up reading a love story. Not necessarily a boy-girl love story, but more often than not, what’s driving the protagonist forward throughout the book is love. Love for a wife, sweetheart, brother, or child. So if you think Harlan Coben doesn’t write romance, you either haven’t read Harlan Coben, or you have a very narrow definition of the term. So without further ado (no idea what ado is) here is my Q and A with Harlan Coben.

Harlan Coben, Photo by Miriam Berkley

With 50 million books in print worldwide, Harlan Coben’s last four consecutive novels, LIVE WIRE, CAUGHT,  LONG LOST and HOLD TIGHT all debuted  at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and lists around the world. His first Young Adult novel SHELTER was just released this fall. His books are published in 41 languages around the globe and have been number one bestsellers in over a dozen countries. (Bio from www.HarlanCoben.com)

Carey:  If you were stranded on a desert island with one other author, yes the real author, not a book, who would it be and why?

Harlan: Boring answer: I’d rather be with a friend than a stranger.  Luckily, I have many writer-friends I admire – if I start listing them the interview will run too long – but they are all good company.

Carey:  You are known for your fantastic plot twists. What’s your secret recipe for keeping readers surprised?

Harlan: I wish there was a recipe.  It is more like a long hike through deep woods.  You have to cut a different path each time – so it’s harder.  But you know you’ve done it before – so it’s comforting.

Carey: Do you have a special way you order your food? For example, do you always hold the sprouts on your salad or ask for a side of cherries with your diet coke?

Harlan: I’m ridiculously low maintenance in that way.  So no.

Carey is about as low maintenance as a Real-New-Jersey Housewife: I’m the same! How did you come to write your first manuscript?

Harlan: I spent summers working as a tour guide in Spain for Americans traveling on vacation.  At some point I decided to write a book about the experience.  The book was horrible, but the writing virus – yes, that’s how I’d describe it – was unleashed.

Carey:  Do you have a personal hero?

Harlan: My father.

Carey: Perhaps that’s why you wrote so movingly about a father in your Father’s Day essay for the New York Times. Which of your series or which of your books is your favorite?

Harlan: It’s so hard to say.  I usually like the newer books.  I can see the seams in the old ones.  They’re like that college essay you thought was so brilliant and you find it now and think, “Wow, this doesn’t work at all.”  It’s like that with old books.

That said, TELL NO ONE was my first big bestseller and movie, so that will always hold a special place in my heart.  FADE AWAY won the Edgar and the Shamus and revealed how Myron Bolitar “became” Myron Bolitar.  So those are the two I’d pick.

Carey.   I recently finished your young adult novel, SHELTER. Mickey Bolitar tugged at my heart from the opening line. What motivated you to write a young adult novel, and will you spill any secrets about Mickey and his future?

Harlan: I have four kids, ages 17 to 10.  I wanted to write a novel for them.  I also had a great idea for a book, but the hero was only fifteen years old.  That means, yep, Young Adult.

 Carey: Your novel LIVE WIRE features Myron Bolitar, a beloved character from prior series who is also Mickey’s uncle. How do your storylines intersect?

Harlan: My stand-alone books and my series books take place in the same world.  Sometimes they intersect.  I think it’s fun when that happens.

Carey:  What do you like to read in your down time?

Harlan: It’s pretty varied, except for the fact that I read almost exclusively fiction.  Right now, for example, I’m reading a short story collection by Elissa Schappell.

Carey makes a note for her TBR pile. What scares you?

Harlan: Not much.  I get a lot of it out on paper and then I block a lot in real life.  Of course, once you have children, you always live with fear.

Carey: Please tell us about your upcoming release STAY CLOSE. Do you prefer writing series or stand alones?

Harlan: STAY CLOSE is a slightly darker tale.  Usually I have a romantic vision of the American dream and those who fight to get it.  This time, well, not so much.  It is, I believe, the best thing I’ve done.

Carey wonders where she can pre-order STAY CLOSE. Oh, here:

Harlan: I don’t have a preference between writing stand-alones or series.  They are both equally torturous.

Carey: Do you have a special cause that is close to your heart?

Harlan: Medical services for poor children.  My wife is a pediatrician and this is our big focus.  Anne runs a medical facility for foster children via Children’s Aid and Family Services in New Jersey www.cafsnj.org .

Carey: Is there a story you are itching to write, but haven’t done so?

Harlan: No.  If I’m itching to write it, I write it.

Carey: TELL NO ONE is the first Harlan Coben book I ever read. It kept me up all night and kept me surprised to the last page. It’s been made into a movie and is currently available on DVD. What do you think about how the story transitioned onto the big screen?

Harlan: I thought the French (Guillaume Canet) did a wonderful job.  It was a critical and commercial success, getting nine nominations for the French Oscar (the Cesar) and winning four of them.  It’s also readily available on Netflix Instant, so give it a watch (with subtitles).  Ben Affleck is working on an American remake, and I’m very excited about his passion and ideas.

Carey is also excited about Ben Affleck….er…his passion and ideas.  I loved the book TELL NO ONE, and I am seriously stoked that it will be made into an American film. I don’t know why I haven’t seen the French version yet, but I know what subtitled film I’ll be watching this weekend.

Harlan, thank you so much for taking the time to be with us today. It was truly an honor to have you here. And now I’d like to open things up for comments or questions.

We love Harlan’s books so much we are going to give away one e-copy of SHELTER and LIVE WIRE. There will be two winners. One book per winner. Be sure to check Friday’s blog to see if you are a winner.

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