When avid readers think of Harlan Coben, the words “mystery” or “thriller” probably come to mind. But what about “romance?” It very well could, for the best-selling author’s books often run the gamut of genres. And that’s why Coben doesn’t like to label his work.
“I never know what I’m going to write next,” he said. “I think of a story and tell it.”
His latest novel, “Six Years,” also cannot be easily classified. The book, which is on sale now, tells the story of Jake Fisher, a college professor who cannot get over his lover Natalie marrying another man. But when he attends the funeral of that man six years later, only to discover he has been married to another woman the whole time, Jake must figure out what happened to his old flame.
Coben said he was inspired to write the novel’s “heartbreaking” opening after listening to the song “Congratulations” by Blue October. He ran with his ideas from there to create the rest of the book.
According to Coben, “Six Years” is “as much a love story as it is a thriller.” But whatever the type of story, Coben will almost certainly include plenty of his signature plot twists. He said that while he always knows a novel’s ending, he actually comes up with many of his surprises as he writes.
“I love twisting and turning,” Coben said. “I love to play with your expectations and fool you. It’s something I enjoy reading, and it’s something I enjoy writing.”
Another of Coben’s trademarks is setting his stories in New Jersey. Despite all his success, he hasn’t forgotten where he was from originally. Born in Newark and currently living in Ridgewood, Coben is even childhood friends with Governor Christie, who he calls a longtime reader. He said he writes about the Garden State because that’s the area he knows best.
Having grown up in Livingston, he was especially pleased to sign copies of “Six Years” in nearby Maplewood’s Words Bookstore. He encourages everyone in the Maplewood area, which includes Seton Hall, to support it.
“There’s so few communities that have great, vibrant bookstores like Words, and so it’s really kind of an honor to go there,” Coben said.
Sean Quinn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.