Win centres around well-to-do families (one of which the protagonist belongs to), large fortunes and expensive stolen items. Was it enjoyable to set your novel in this environment?
HC: Yes! It’s where Win lives. It’s who he is. Win is much more of an anti-hero than most of my protagonists, and it was fun to explore him and his world.
Can you tell us a bit about Win and what sets him on his path to uncover the mystery at the centre of the book?
HC: Win is from an old school, extraordinarily wealthy family. Someone described him as part Gatsby and part Dexter, which I thought was pretty good. I like to think he’s always fascinating, he often goes too far, and most importantly I think you will find him good company.
And how does the FBI feel about Win’s involvement?
HC: Some are for it and some are against it! Win has a little bit of background in law enforcement, which is a bit nebulous... you’ll have to read to find out!
What makes you lean more towards standalone novels rather than series?
HC: I start with an idea, and then I ask myself who is going to tell the story. Over the last two decades, one out of maybe every five times the answer is Myron, or in this case, Win. I don’t want to force it and write the series just because people want me to. I want to tell the stories as organically as possible. So after I come up with the idea, for example The Boy from the Woods – I had this idea about a boy who at the age of six comes wandering out of the woods and no one knows how he got there, never finds out, 30 years later he still doesn’t know if he has any parents, or who they are – this was a cool way of starting. Now of course, Myron can’t be that guy, and Win can’t be that guy. So I then ask who is going to be that guy – or woman, in fact I think I have six books where the lead character is a woman – and then the story begins. When it works for Myron and Win, as this one did, they’ll tell it, and if not, someone else will do it.
You’ve had a huge amount of critical and commercial success over your career, but how has the success of your Netflix adaptations changed your experience as a writer in the world?
HC: It hasn’t really changed what I do, how I do it, I still write the books the same, I do the shows the same. It’s been really gratifying – I love that a lot of people have discovered the books from watching the tv series. They watch The Stranger and then find the books and that’s very exciting. I love the reach of something like Netflix, something like 190 countries, 200 million subscribers, can binge watch the episodes at one time, the same time, all over the world. Something like midnight at California time drops everywhere – Australia, Europe, Asia, wherever it is, all drops at the same time. It’s been really fun, I’ve really enjoyed the experience. There are at least three more coming out this year so I’m very excited about that.
Anything else about the book you would like to add?
HC: I’m hoping Win will be the start of a new series – I think he’s my most fascinating hero. He’s going to make you think, there will be times you agree with him and a lot of times you won’t agree with him, but you’ll always understand where he’s coming from. I originally intended this story to be a lot more character driven, but it ends up there’s a plot involving a famous art heist, hippie radicals from the 60s and 70s, a famous kidnapping, so I think you won’t be able to put it down and my hope that this is a one day or two day read!
Penguin Books Australia is giving you the chance to win a virtual visit from Harlan Coben at your book club! Purchase your copy of the book and enter your details at the link in the image. Full details on competition page.
by Harlan Coben is available in store and online from 16 March 2021.