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New York Times best-selling author Catherine Coulter is known for penning funny historical romances intertwined with mysteries and edge-of-your-seat thrillers. Her latest (book #66), The Valcourt Heiress, set in 1278, features fun and games and mayhem with wild and woolly knights.


Prior to becoming a full-time writer, she worked on Wall Street writing funny speeches for an actuarial honcho. “I’ve never done anything that would land me in prison,” she swears to PopMatters 20 Questions, but her popular FBI series reveals she’s capable of thinking “outside the cell”, if you will.


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The Valcourt Heiress

Catherine Coulter

(Penguin; US: Oct 2010)

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
I wept when Harry Potter’s godfather, Sirius Black, got blasted into the ether in the showdown in The Order of the Phoenix. But wait – “Deathly Hallows 1” isn’t out yet.


2. The fictional character most like you?
Forgive me for the transgender transference, but I must select Hercule Poirot. I, like Hercule, love my little gray cells and encourage them endlessly to get me out of major bad stuff.


3. The greatest album ever?
Toto’s hit single “Africa” makes me want to shout and sing every time I hear it, which is less and less since it’s now about 25-years-old.


4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
Give me Spock whenever there’s nearby spores. “My eyes burn ...” Only a real Trekkie will get this one.


5. Your ideal brain food?
When I’m flying down the hill (on skis, hopefully), I’m revved enough to write a book in flight.


6. You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why?
I’ve never done anything that would land me in prison.


7. You want to be remembered for…?
I’d like to be remembered for my joke telling, which is a miracle since I know only one joke—but with the Scottish accent, it always flies high.


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Whiplash (FBI Series #14)

Catherine Coulter

(Penguin; US: Jun 2010)

8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?
Agatha Christie, Georgette Heyer, Dick Francis, Dostoevsky, and Monty Python.


9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?
The Brandenberg Concertos. Well, that’s not likely, so how about Toto?


10. Your hidden talents… ?
I’m the greatest pole dancer, in my mind.


Actually, truth be told, I’ve never tried to hide any talent I come across under a bushel.


11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?
Hillary Ross, my very first editor, told me to never never ever use a pseudonym, except in the case of a last name like Butt-kiss. (Sorry, Dick.)


12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?
The most memorable thing I ever stole was a Mars candy bar when I was eight-years-old. I saw it, I wanted it, I took it, and I didn’t go to prison.


Today, I still love Mars bars, but eat them in private because of the guilt.


13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or ... ?
Anthropologie, Armani, or Acme, anything that beings with an A.


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Beyond Eden

Catherine Coulter

(Penguin; US: Oct 2000)

14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?
I’d love to share tacos with Ivan the Terrible—Can you imagine the stories he’d tell? Did they have tacos in Russia during the 16th century? Actually, do they have tacos in Russia today?


15. Time travel: where, when, and why?
I never want to travel back in time because with my luck, I’d die of something vile the very next day. So it’s forward to the 23rd century and ‘make it so’ with Jean Luc.


16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?
Have you ever had a massage that uses a body brush, all over? Stress—what stress?


17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or. . .  ?
Hand fried tortilla chips and guacamole. The nearest you’ll get to Heaven before your due date.


18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?
Right where I am—Sausalito, California. Thank you, God, thank you, God.


19. What do you want to say to the leader of our country?
Who wins at arm wrestling? You or Michelle?


20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on now?
I’ve got exactly two more days—count them—two more days to finish up the final edit on Split Second, the 15th FBI thriller, out next June. Yeah!

Karen Zarker, Managing Editor at PopMatters, works with a talented array of writers throughout the magazine. She manages the PopMatters Books Series, and also holds many behind-the-scenes operational responsibilities. She can be reached at zarker(at)popmatters.com.


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