Monday, March 26, 2012

Meet Author Harlow Coban



Harlow Coban, Author of Life in Death

My story isn’t a warm and fuzzy one.

My father was murdered when I was 12 years of age.

A few years ago, at my uncle’s urging, I looked into what happened to him. The police had suspects, but no one was ever arrested and the case remains unsolved.

I learned a lot about police procedure when I looked into my father’s murder. It was then that I decided to write a novel.

While my murder mystery novella, Life in Death, is not entirely based on what happened to my father, it draws from real life experiences I had with him.

Writing the novel was a cathartic experience for me. What I liked most, and found particularly cleansing, about the experience was my power to spin the story as I saw fit.

We all love, hate, laugh, cry, and everything in between, so we’re never at a loss for stories to tell.

Here’s how you get started writing a novel based on a true story:

· Determine what kind of story you want to write. Talk to family and friends. Look at newspaper articles. I don’t want to be morose, but look at obituaries, too. Take notes. There are stories there.

· Determine the story’s theme: Good/evil, love/hate, birth/death, peace/war, etc. Again, take notes. This may be where the title of your book comes from or maybe not. The title of my book came to me in a dream.

· Construct a compelling plot. I suggest creating a plot outline to start with. I used the “what if” technique to determine what would happen in my chapters. Basically, you ask yourself “what if” this or that happened to your character and expand from there.

· Create dynamic scenes. My advice is something has to happen in “every” chapter or scene.

· Create multi-dimensional characters. Many writers, including yours truly, base their characters on real people and then add nuances to create more complexity and depth. This is one way to go.

· Read, read, read. The more you read, the better writer you’ll become.

· Lastly, start writing. “Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end; then stop.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland.

Truth can be stranger than fiction, but maybe not as entertaining. The key to writing a novel based on a true story is in how you spin the story to make it enjoyable for readers.



The author will be giving away a prize at every stop which may include (but isn't limited to:

Amazon Gift Cards
Book Lover Note Cards
Kindle Cover
Book Tote

Hunger Games Trilogy

Blurb: When a girl that social worker Kari Marchant places in foster care is brutally murdered, she’s compelled to learn why. Her quest for the truth pits her against friends and coworkers. As Kari works to solve the horrific plot, more people die. She’s been targeted for death and she doesn’t even know it. How far should she go to learn the truth—even if it threatens her life?

When homicide detective Rance Nicolet meets Kari, his attraction to her is powerful—and the feeling is mutual. But things between them go terribly wrong when Kari’s old lover is found murdered with a letter from her in his pocket. The evidence against Kari is damning. Rance’s personal and professional lives collide. Does he blindly believe the woman he’s falling in love with or follow the evidence no matter where it leads?

“Frost. Call on line one.” The voice boomed overhead and interrupted Scott Frost mid-climb. He jumped off his truck, pushed up the sleeves on his dingy green work shirt and walked to the phone mounted on the wall, his face a scowl of irritation.

He grabbed the rec

eiver. “Hello.”

“They found Patience,” his wife, Andrea, whispered.

Mammoth garbage trucks rumbled and shook the walls as they rolled out into the street for the day’s work, their giant bellies hungry for trash. Scott strained to hear his wife over the noise.

“I told you never to call me here.”

“Do you know what they did to her?” Her voice rose an octave.

"Hold it together.” He clenched his fist and resisted the impulse to smash it through the wall. “She’s the one who ran off.”

“She didn’t deserve that. Nobody deserves that.”

The phone slip

ped a bit in his sweaty hand. Tolerance had never been one of Scott's virtues, and what little he did have waned with each whiny word his wife uttered. “It’ll all be over soon, you know that.”

“They won’t let us out.”

He gnashed his teeth together until the noise in his head drowned out the roar of garbage trucks. The pumping of his heart escalated and Scott imagined he could feel his blood pressure rising.

“Damn it, Andrea, take a valium. These people are dangerous. They’ll kill us if we flake out.”


and Links:

Author Harlow Coban was born in Kansas City, MO, but grew up in Denver, CO. She relocated to North Carolina five years ago with her husband, two dogs, and 16-year old twins.

She shares a birthday with the notorious Napoleon Bonaparte. In keeping with his legacy, she is currently working on taking over the world. Harlow’s positive attitude and fresh take on life are her tools and conquest is certain.

She spends her free time writing, dancing, traveling and defending mailboxes from her 16-year-old twins’ driving.

Her debut novel, LIFE IN DEATH (February 2012), is a murder mystery which pulls from real-life situations from her own family history. She felt compelled to share her story with the world while offering a thrilling, entertaining, and amusing escape for readers.

In keeping with her commitment to improving the lives of children, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of her book will be donated to the Boys and Girls Club in her home state of North Carolina.

She loves to connect with her readers and can be found on Twitter (@HarlowCoban), Facebook (!/pages/Harlow-Coban/174596219285270), Goodreads ( and her website (


  1. Your story is certainly not a warm & fuzzy one, but I wish it were. I do applaud you for turning it into something positive. LIFE IN DEATH looks like a compelling read.


  2. Sandra, thank you so much for hosting me!

    @Marybelle, thank you for your comment. After reading my blog post, do you think you'd be able to turn a life event of yours into a novel? What would you write about?

  3. Harlow...How interesting. People can be so resilient. It's terrific that you were able to channel your tragedy into something productive.

    I, too, am in the Southeastern part of the state near the beautiful beaches.

    Sandra...I see your books Makita and Akasha and Shardai. Are they your kitties? I see on your blog a pic of you and Chuck. He's a big un! We've got 4 cats--sort of: 2 resident cats, 1 we're trying to integrate, and a sweetie who now seems to be living in our garage. We'll have to get him to the vet soon for a check up...UGH!

  4. My pleasure, Harlan. All the best with this story. Good for you for writing it.

    Catherine, good for you for integrating the new guy and taking him to the vet. The kitties on the cover were cats that have been through a rescue group I work with.
    Chuck sparked the Shardai story.

    Ladies, that makes three of us from NC. I'm in the central portion.

  5. This sounds so good! I when cry for the characters. :/ Your book has definitely caught my attention. Im looking forward to reading it. Thanks!