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Harlan Coben on "Fool Me Once"

Amazon Book Review: Fool Me OnceThe author of eight best-selling novels, Harlan Coben is one of our most successful thriller writers. It's no surprise: Coben's books consistently offer nail-biting suspense wrapped up in byzantine plots that keep readers second-guessing themselves to the end. His latest, Fool Me Once is no different. For its selection for Amazon's Best Books of the Month, our reviewer Penny Mann wrote:

"Harlan Coben brings a lot to the table in this new novel--multiple plot lines, suspense and mystery, in-depth research, the strains of being a single parent, and even the effects of PTSD--and he doesn't disappoint."

Coben answered a few of our questions about the new book, his greatest influences, and the challenges sustaining success.

Amazon Book Review: Fool Me Once is your 20th-something book, and they keep getting bigger, better and more interesting. How do you come up with your ideas, and how do you manage not to repeat yourself?

Harlan Coben: Well, that's flattering, thank you. I still try to make the "next" book my "best" book. I want to grip and move you in unexpected ways. Writing a novel in general is like trying to reach a mountain top you'll never quite reach -- so you try again and maybe get a little closer. I also react to what I've done before. So if I had, say, a tall, amateur male lead living on the campus of a rural college (Six Years), the next book might feature a short, cop who lives in the heart of Manhattan (Missing You).

ABR: Fool Me Once is about a special-ops pilot, and is very much about two topics very important in our world at the moment: War... and nanny cams. Do you feel your book has a political point of view on either?

HC: If it does, I won't say. I would rather raise certain topics and maybe let you ruminate on them. I'm not big on answering them.

ABR: If I had to choose one theme that comes up again and again in your work it's the notion of trust. Who can you trust? What happens when someone you trust betrays you? How do we know whom to trust? What do you think: is this a preoccupation of yours, in literature and/or in life?

HC: It's not so much trust as human complexity, I think. We all think that we are uniquely complex, that no one can see what we are thinking -- yet we also believe that we have the rare ability to read others. This fascinates me at the moment.

ABR: Who do you think of as your literary forbears, your influences, your mentors?

HC: Oh I don't know. William Goldman's Marathon Man was a novel that taught me about suspense. I was maybe 16 years old when I read it and I remember thinking, "You could put a gun to my head and I wouldn't put this book down." I loved that feeling -- and want to give it others. I feel as though I've been influenced by a ton of writers, from Robert B. Parker to Mary Higgins Clark to Philip Roth to Madeline L' Engle. Who knows? I'm also inspired by anything that I consider great. It makes me want to raise my game too -- Hitchcock movies, Hopper paintings, Springsteen concerts.

ABR: You are now also writing YA, as well as adult fiction. Is there a difference in how you approach the two audiences?

HC: Nope. The only difference is the age of the characters. You can't dumb it down for even a second.

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