Cake or Pie? With Harlan Coben

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Mystery maestro, Harlan Coben is the #1 New York Times author of 35 novels, the creator and executive producer of several Netflix television dramas and, I am honored to report, the first interviewee for my inaugural column, Cake or Pie? “Think Twice,” his first Myron Bolitar novel in eight years, comes out in May. His limited series “Fool Me Once” is now streaming on Netflix, and “Missing You” is scheduled for release soon.  

1.  If you weren’t an author, what would you be? 

A duvet cover. Seriously, I have no other marketable skill. I’m disorganized, forgetful, unfocused, indolent. Part of what drives me to write fiction is the knowledge that if I didn’t, I would have to get a real job. Shudder.  

2.  What book made you fall in love with reading?  

I can’t choose just one. Books are life’s signposts, don’t you think? As a very young child, Dr. Suess, but once I hit elementary school, it would have to be CS Lewis’s Narnia series, Madeleine L’Engle’s “Wrinkle in Time,” Alexander Key’s “The Forgotten Door,” and Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” I can trace a lot of what I write today to these childhood favorites.

3. What was the last book you read? 

 “Long Island Compromise,” out July 9. Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s follow-up to the popular “Fleishman Is in Trouble.” It’s sublime – shades of Philip Roth and Jonathan Franzen and yet completely original. Don’t miss it! 

4. What’s on your TBR? (To Be Read)

Amor Towle’s “Table for Two,” Anna Quindlen’s “After Annie” (everyone in my family keeps stealing the book from me!), and Wanda M. Morris’s “What You Leave Behind.”

5.  What was your childhood nickname? 

This will make you laugh and yes, this is totally embarrassing, but the honest answer is: Stud. Not for the reasons I might wish, but because my high school basketball coach noted that I had legs like a horse, like a “stud’s,” as he tragically put it. 

6.  What was your first concert? 

Supertramp. Madison Square Garden. Breakfast in America Tour. Circa 1979. I still think it’s the greatest concert ever, and I’ve probably seen Springsteen a hundred times. 

7.  What’s your favorite bookstore? 

There is no way to answer this without forgetting some place totally wonderful. A few long-time favorites: Murder by The Book (Houston TX), Poisoned Pen (Scottsdale AZ), Words Bookstore (Maplewood NJ), RJ Julia (Madison, CT).

Photo by Netflix.

I’m already thinking of ten more stores I should list, but here’s the important thing: any town that has a bookstore is made better by it. It improves the value of your home. It creates community. Support them all. 

8.  Where is your happy place? 

Like most writers, I’m a bit of a homebody. If I had to pick a favorite city, I’m going to go with the cliché of Paris. I have so many fond memories there.  

9: Your last Halloween costume? 

For Halloween, I wear one earring and go as either Mr. Clean or a Midlife Crisis.    

10. Kindle or paper?

I do both, but for the fun of this column, I’ll defend the e-book. An e-book is magic. If you were told a few decades ago that someone would invent a light-weight device that could make any book in the world appear in your hands instantly, what would you have paid for that? Now add in the fact that it can hold hundreds of books at the same time and provide its own light and you can make the font any size or design you want. I mean, come on, it’s magic.  

 11. Batman or Superman? 


12. Cake or Pie?

Yes please. 

Jane L. Rosen is the author of Seven Summer Weekends., On Fire Island, A Shoe Story, Eliza Starts a Rumor, and Nine Women, One Dress. She is also a screenwriter and contributor to publications including The New Times, Tablet, and now, her hometown paper, the Fire Island News. She and her husband have three grown daughters and a rescue pup named Rosalita. 

Graphics by Hanna Goldstien