Harlan Coben explores a host of parent-child issues while a sadistic killer is on the loose in his 15th novel, Hold Tight.

Are you and your wife dealing with such matters as privacy vs. right to know with your own children?

We have four children and our oldest is 13, so we’re just starting to deal with this. The Internet has changed all the rules on communication. And it’s also kind of opened up the whole world into our house. So what is our responsibility in handling the situation? That was one of the things that got me started on Hold Tight. Some friends of ours had just put spyware on their 15-year-old boy’s computer, and we were arguing if that was right or wrong.

The five families you focus on in Hold Tight seem to face ordinary problems with extraordinary consequences.

That’s exactly right. And that’s what I mostly write. I wanted this to be a suburban novel and hopefully my most gripping and suspenseful novel. Starting with something small, starting with the problems and the situations that everyone goes through, rather than a serial killer hacking up people for no reason or a conspiracy reaching the presidency.

You appear to favor stand-alone novels to series. What makes the one more appealing than the other?

I always start with an idea or a concept as we just discussed with this one. If that idea will work for Myron Bolitar, my series guy, then he’ll be back. If it doesn’t, I won’t force it. I don’t start with a character, I start with an idea. Bolitar did come back in 2006’s Promise Me, and I do think he’s going to come back in 2009. That’s my intention, but I use a quote in Hold Tight: “Man plans, God laughs.”

You’ve used that quote in more than one book.

It’s one of my favorite Yiddish expressions.

Do you enjoy the promotional aspects of being an author?

I like touring more than most writers, I think. I can remember days when I would go to a book signing and I would just stare at my pen for two hours. I’m still at the stage where the fact that people actually want to come out and see me and ask questions and have a genuine interest makes me kind of giddy. That’s the beauty of not starting out with the big contract or being on the bestseller lists. I have a real appreciation of how lucky I’ve been. I write books for a living—what could be better than that?