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Harlan Coben On How Personal Loss Has Affected His Work

Harlan Coben has experienced the early loss of both his mother and his father, and while the best-selling author of crime fiction doesn't draw on personal experiences for his storylines, they have helped shape the way he deals with love and loss in his work.

He'll be in the red chair tonight, along with singer Chantal Kreviazuk.

HC: "Losing my parents was the most crushing thing that ever happened to me. I lost my dad when I was 26, and it changed my life entirely. In fact, I overwrite in some of my books, some of the parent-father- son scenes because that's what I imagine it would have been like - had he lived... there's no silver lining in the cloud, but there's no question that their death makes me a better writer, it makes me a better human being... it's not worth it (though), I wouldn't want to make that trade."

GS: "Is it more drive, more discipline, more creative, or more emotional?"

HC: "It's more emotional ... there are a lot of people who will read the books and say, "Wow, you get grieving, you get what loss is like". I've written father-son pieces AND mother-son pieces (my mother also died young), and all that makes me a better writer... it makes me able to go to those places that thrillers don't normally go. It's not enough for me to stir your pulse and keep you up late at night - I have to move you. If you're not genuinely moved by these characters, then I haven't done my job."