Best-selling novelist Catherine Coulter, who writes FBI thrillers and historical romances, has two requests for her book-signing event at the Kroger in Beaumont on Thursday: She wants the best seat in the house and her favorite cuisine.
"Since I have never done a signing at Kroger before, I have requested seating close to the bakery department," Coulter said of the appearance to promote her latest novel, Split Second (Putnam, $26.95).
"It's my pleasure to meet the Kroger people in person, share a Mexican meal and learn about their business," she said. "They are going to promote my new FBI thriller ... at all of their stores, and that's a wonderful thing."
Coulter dishes out humor like a stand-up comedian, but she also produces books like clockwork.
This year she released an omnibus in February, Twice Dead, with Riptide and Hemlock Bay, the fifth and sixth books from the FBI thriller series; Split Second on Tuesday; and, she has a new historical romance, The Prince of Ravenscar, coming in the fall.
"Yep, this was a busy year," she said. "It usually takes me about six months to write a book."
Split Second is the 15th installment in her FBI thriller series featuring agents Dillon Savich and Lacey Sherlock. They are joined by new agents Lucy Carlyle and Cooper McKnight. After investigating a series of murders, they find that their culprit is the daughter of infamous serial killer Ted Bundy. In a race to save the next victim, Carlyle is aided by a psychic gift she inherited from her grandmother.
Coulter said her favorite character in Split Second is Mr. Patil, the 7-Eleven owner, although the antagonist, Kristen Bolger, was exciting to write.
"Bolger simply came to me along with her daddy, Ted Bundy. Her character was right in my face, loud, insistent, mad as a hatter. I loved writing her," she said.
Coulter, 68, boasts an impressive record, having written 65 novels, 59 of which have been on The New York Times' best-seller list. The first book in her FBI thriller series, 1996's The Cove, remained on the best-seller list for nine weeks and has sold almost 2 million copies.
It was one night in New York, while working as a speech writer on Wall Street, that Coulter had the epiphany to become a novelist, she said. Unlike some writers, it hadn't been a lifelong dream. It was more of an "anything you can do, I can do better" moment for the young woman who enjoyed reading romances, she said.
"My husband was in medical school at Columbia Presbyterian, and I spent a number of evenings on my own, reading, reading, reading. One night, I remember, I threw the book across the room and said, 'I can do better.'"
And it seems she has. She attributes her success to luck.
"I sent a dumb letter to the editor, she asked me to lunch and offered me a three-book contract," she said. "Talk about luck. You got to have it, in any endeavor, and it sure kicked in for me."
Coulter's first novel, The Autumn Countess, was published in 1978.
The well-educated author — she has degrees from the University of Texas and Boston College — said her degrees lend no assistance to her chosen career path.
"My master's degree is in French literature and psychology ... both pretty useless, truth be told, if one wishes to make enough money to feed the cat."
Today, writing is an everyday routine for her.
"I have a very set schedule," she said. "To the computer at 6:30 a.m. to answer fan email, Facebook and Twitter. Then it's downstairs to my office at 7:30 to work on the current novel. I write until 10:30, then it's gym time."
In 1995, after she was burnt out on writing romances, Coulter said, she created her suspense thriller drama. Now, she has an arrangement with her editor.
"One FBI thriller, one historical romance (a year) — this way my brain doesn't get constipated since the two genres are so very disparate," she said. "I enjoy all of them equally because they're so very different from each other."
The thrillers are all about pacing, the historical stories about laughter and going to the "cat races," she said. However, she usually writes a little mystery into each book.
Coulter is currently writing the 16th FBI thriller, set for publication in 2012.