How a real-life moment gave Harlan Coben the opener for his new novel “Run Away”

After 31 books, how does a novelist come up with fresh, thrilling ideas? Number one bestselling author Harlan Coben finds book ideas by imagining scenarios based on his everyday life. Coben joined “Salon Talks” to discuss his newest novel, "Run Away," which follows a father’s search for his runaway daughter and the obstacles he faces trying to find her. When asked how he wrote the opening for the book, Coben explained this real-life moment.

“One day I'm sitting in Central Park, in Strawberry Fields, you know the John Lennon mosaic is there, and there's always a street musician mangling Beatles tunes,” Coben recalled. “What if that was my lead character's daughter? What if she was strung out, and he hadn't seen her in six months and he finally found her, and if I open the book that way? And when he tries to rescue her, everything goes wrong.”

During his prolific career, Coben has over 70 million books in print worldwide, which have been translated into 43 different languages. Coben is known for his thrillers with twists and turns, including kidnappings, long-lost family members, and runaway children. However, it’s disappearance stories that he finds lots of inspiration. “When someone disappears, there's hope,” Coben said.

Watch the video above to hear more about Coben’s new book “Run Away.” And check out the full episode to learn how Coben forces himself to write in an assortment of places like coffee shops, Ubers and delis.

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

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