Tattle: Author eyes 'immersion' novel

Meghan McCain: Has 20 answers for "Playboy" questions.
Meghan McCain: Has 20 answers for "Playboy" questions. (STEPHEN LOVEKIN / GETTY IMAGES FOR TIME)
Posted: March 16, 2012

HARLAN COBEN isn't sure when he decided to become a writer, but he thinks it has a lot to do with Marathon Man.

As a teenager he was given William Goldman's thrilling novel by his father and he so loved how he felt, holed up in his room reading, that he thought, "I want to give this experience to other people."

While critics sum up Coben's best-selling work (the Myron Bolitar series and standalone novels like Tell No One, Caught, and his latest, Stay Close) as big in the sub-genre of suburban suspense, his goal is to write a "novel of immersion, the type of book you bring to St. Tropez but you can't leave your room" because you have to know what's going to happen.

The author says he stays so immersed in his own work, he never thinks ahead to a next book.

"If I come up with an idea, I tend to use it," he said by phone earlier this week. "I don't save a punch for the next fight."

Although he's been prolific, writing at least a book a year, Coben said he's "not disciplined in a structural way," but when he's out with his family or playing golf (a recent hobby to become more well-rounded), he usually hears a little voice singing, "You should be home writing."

Actually, he frequently writes away from home - at a Starbucks - after taking his kids to school.

Stay Close is a bit of a departure for the Livingston, N.J., author, as it involves a somewhat seedy Atlantic City, three protagonists and characters who are more damaged than the typical Coben hero.

Film rights have already been optioned and Coben is working on the screenplay with Lawrence Kasdan ("The Big Chill," "Body Heat," "Raiders of the Lost Ark").

Coben now has a loyal following, but he's still "insecure" and "It doesn't ever get easier." The pressure, however, feels different.

"Pressure is not having a publishing deal or not being able to feed your family," he said.

"Now I just put my head down and try to write the best book I can." Harlan Coben will be at the Katz JCC (301 Springdale Road, Cherry Hill), Thursday at 7 p.m.

If you'd like to read the first 42 pages of Stay Close, go to harlancoben.com.


* Meghan McCain, 27, daughter of Sen. John, is asked 20 questions in the April Playboy. Here are two of her responses:

On her sexual orientation: "I'm not a lesbian, if that's what you're asking. I'd be the first person to tell the world I was gay. I'm not private about anything. I think you should live how you should live. But I'm strictly dickly. I can't help it. I love sex and I love men . . . If you see me in a gay bar, it's only because they play the best music and my gay friends like to dance. Gay guys love me. It's the big boobs and blond hair."

On why politicians get caught up in sex scandals: "I

always say repression breeds

obsession. Politicians have to be goody-goodies. They put on this face of perfection and pretend they're completely above indiscretion. But the more you deny your sexual side, the more it builds up and comes out in inappropriate ways.

Not to bring any particular politician into this discussion, but I always find it fascinating that the number one state per capita for downloading porn is Utah. All those pious Mormons and they're drooling at their laptops all day."

* Tragedy has befallen an earless

baby bunny who had become a rising star on Germany's celebrity animal scene - as if anyone knew German had a celebrity animal scene.

The sad fate of 17-day-old Til, a bunny with a genetic defect, was plastered across German newspapers yesterday, the same day a small zoo in Saxony was to have presented him to the world at a news conference.

Alas, Til died when a cameraman stepped on him.

Zoo director Uwe Dempewolf told Spiegel magazine Til didn't suffer: "It was a direct hit."

- Daily News wire services

contributed to this report.

Email gensleh@phillynews.com. Howard Gensler will be on furlough next week.

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