After 30 bestsellers, Harlan Coben is still insecure: “A lot of writing is self-hatred”


In his 30-year career, number one NYT bestselling author Harlan Coben has sold millions of books, been translated into 43 languages, and had his works adapted into film and television shows around the world. Yet the New Jersey native, whose newest novel is the twisty thriller "Run Away," never takes success as a sure thing, he shared on “Salon Talks.”

"I still get paralyzed every day when I write," he told SalonTV’s Mary Elizabeth Williams. "I've written 31 novels; you'd think I'd be past that. I get mad at myself. I'll be writing and think, 'This book stinks.' Five minutes later, I'll think, 'This book is genius.' There's a lot of self-flagellation. That goes on every day."

His advice for aspiring authors is to remember, "We all get paralyzed. You have to fight through that paralysis. Turn that voice off. Don't worry about good or bad it is yet. Anything that makes you write those pages, do it. It may be an art, but you have to treat it like a job. The plumber can't say, 'Today I'm too important to do pipes.'"

And, Coben noted, remember that success takes time. "My first Myron Bolitar book, I got a $5,000 advance," he recalled. "I don't want to brag, but by the fourth Myron Bolitar, I was making a $6,00 advance. It was my tenth book, 'Tell No One,' that changed my life. I have such an appreciation for what I have now and what it took to get there. And I got to really work on my craft."

Watch the episode above to hear more about where Coben likes to write and why his 14-project Netflix deal has opened his mind about how his stories can change overtime as they are adapted into different characters, cultures and languages.


About “Salon Talks”

Hosted by Salon journalists, “Salon Talks” episodes offer a fresh take on the long-form interview format, and a much-needed break from the partisan political talking heads that have come to dominate the genre. “Salon Talks” is a destination for information through conversation. Viewers can expect discussions with A-list actors, artists, authors, thinkers, and newsmakers as we explore the full range of the human condition. The show streams live on Facebook and Twitter and each episode is published in full on Salon.com.


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