In Harlan Coben’s latest book, he gives you a big spoiler on the first page.
I Will Find You is centred around a man who is in prison for murdering his son – but he reveals very early he didn’t do it.
“I know the beginning, I know the end, I know nothing in between,” he explained to Sky News about his writing process.
“So it’s like travelling from my home state of New Jersey across the country to LA – I may go Route 80, I’ll maybe go via the Suez Canal or stop in Tokyo, but I always end up in LA.”
And it’s this method that has kept people turning the thriller writer’s pages since 1995 – with 35 books making up his ever-growing bibliography.
Coben, who has won a raft of literary awards, said his inspiration comes from playing with the idea of a perfect life, and the outside forces that could change any aspect of it.
“I guess I like secrets, I like the past, I like things we think are buried that aren’t, I like family dynamics – you kind of mix all that together.
“Maybe you had that old relationship that you let go… you turned left instead of right – so what happens when things go the other way?
“What changes in your entire life? That sort of thing always fascinates me.”
And as well as seemingly constantly writing books (he said he loved being out and about, but admitted he eventually longs to be back in the writing room), he also has a big-money deal with Netflix, which is adapting a number of his books.
Fool Me Once is currently in production at the streamer, with Coben serving as executive producer as he does on all his TV projects, and will boast a big-name cast, with the likes of Michelle Keegan, Richard Armitage and Joanna Lumley involved.
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Talking about seeing his projects come to fruition, Coben said: “The first time I go on set and I see all of these people putting it together, the cast and crew all bringing it to life, I can’t help but think to myself, ‘man, I had this little idea in my house in New Jersey and now all these talented people… [are] bringing it to life for 190 countries, to over 200 million subscribers’.
“I can actually get genuinely moved when I’m on set, it’s pretty cool.”
But on the pressures of being a writer in 2023, Coben explained he isn’t fearful of how his books are received, and his writing reflects the ideals of his characters.
“I guess I don’t listen to the external voices, but the world is different, and so you have to reflect that,” he said.
“My novels take place in the present day, so my characters will speak now differently than when I wrote a book in 1989 or something like that.
“They should speak differently – the world is different.
“I try not to worry about it in the sense of… I’m not fearful of it, and some characters are good, and some characters are bad, and how they speak should reflect that as well.”
The new novel I Will Find You is available now, with titles such as The Stranger and Too Close also available to stream on Netflix.