Harlan Coben on how he writes best-sellers

Harlan Coben on thriller "Stay Close" 05:41

Harlan Coben has often been called the "master of domestic suspense." His last four thrillers debuted at top of New York Times best-seller list and 50 million of his books are in print.

His next book - his 22nd - is called "Stay Close" and tells the story of three people haunted by a man's disappearance.

But what makes people keep reading Coben?

"I try to cut out all the parts I would normally skip," Coben said. "I want you to start this book at 10:00 at night and say, 'I'll read until 10:30,' the next thing you know, it's 4:00 in the morning, you're bleary-eyed and you hate me. And I love that feeling."

Coben said he receives a lot of inspiration from famed author Elmore Leonard. Coben said he learned from Leonard that you have to keep the pace going, but keep the characters in mind.

"You can stir the pulse, but you have to stir the heart. If you don't care about these characters, you're in a lot of trouble."

When asked about his writing process, Coben said he writes in streaks.

"Takes me about nine months to write a book, let's say, and at the end I'm writing more than at the beginning," he said. "(The) last 30 pages of (my latest book) I finished in one day. It's not a pretty day. My kids are like, 'Throw daddy a banana and run.' It's not pretty. Usually I do streak at the end, especially when I can see the ending, nothing will stop me from getting there."

Coben said he always tries to keep in mind what's going to compel his readers forward. "When I'm writing, on every page, every paragraph, every sentence, every word, I'm asking, is this compelling? Is this gripping? Is this moving the story forward? Doesn't mean I can't have large themes. I do. I try to deal with my life in suburbia, family, things that matter to you and me, but all of those have to be slave to a great story."

For more with Coben on his writing and why New Jersey is a common thread in his books, watch the video in the player above.