Debut Author Snapshot: Chris Pavone

March, 2012

Chris Pavone Chris Pavone has studied the elegance of the long con for his debut espionage thriller, The Expats. His protagonist, former CIA agent Kate Moore, is a mom who carefully keeps secrets from everyone in her life, including her husband. When he is offered a high-paying job in Luxembourg, the tiny but wealthy country that houses some of Europe's wealthiest private banks, she looks forward to starting over but soon fears that her past has found her. Tapping into cloak-and-dagger skills she'd hoped to retire, Kate discovers cons within cons in a game of cat and mouse played out across the cobblestones of Luxembourg, Paris, and Amsterdam.

After two decades in publishing, longtime book editor Pavone is now working on his second novel. The author shares with Goodreads some photos of the year he lived and wrote in Luxembourg.

"Rue Large, on which we drove every day." (Photo: Chris Pavone)
Goodreads: You moved to Luxembourg temporarily for your wife's job. In The Expats, Kate Moore moves there for her husband's work. What inspired the creation of your female protagonist?

Chris Pavone: Kate's predicament owes a lot to my personal experience. I left behind not only my career but also much of my identity to follow my wife's job to Luxembourg, where instead of doing what I'd been doing for my whole adult life—living in New York City, editing books mostly—I was now doing laundry and cleaning, tending to small children and a new household in a strange land with a foreign language, while my spouse worked constantly. So I needed to reinvent myself. It was this real-life circumstance that inspired the book: the possibility—sometimes the necessity—of self-reinvention.

GR: When writing something so intricately plotted, what safeguards did you use to ensure a logical flow?

CP: I outlined everything in minute detail, created a few different timelines for the different narratives, and developed a sequential list of the important revelations. But as I progressed through the writing of the manuscript, new possibilities for twists kept presenting themselves. So I found myself continually revising the outline, revisiting the sequence of reveals, adding layers to the plot, adding scenes and events and characters. And while I knew from the get-go what was going to happen to my protagonist at the end, I didn't know what was going to happen to the other characters, which in a way makes their surprises much more satisfying to me.

"The view from our living window on rue de l'Eau: This is the back of the grand duke's palace." (Photo: Chris Pavone)

"Old town church, winter dusk." (Photo: Chris Pavone)
GR: What is the trick to a happy lifestyle as an expat?

CP: One evening during a ski vacation to the French Alps (a locale in the book) when our twins were six, I noticed Alex dragging his sled up a slope, nodding and smiling and talking with an older boy. I later asked him what they were discussing, and in what language. Alex admitted that it was French, and that he didn't understand most of what the other boy was saying. "Daddy, sometimes if I don't understand what people are saying, I just nod and say oui." He hit the nail on the head: The secret to being an expat is answering yes, even if you're not sure what the question is, and being friendly.

GR: You have decades of experience as a cookbook editor. Can we expect any food-related fiction?

CP: In earlier drafts of The Expats there actually were a good number of culinary-oriented passages, but they didn't advance the plot, so I cut them. I guess I have an inclination to write about food, but it's not easy to make it an essential component to a compelling human narrative. So maybe I should just write a cookbook.

GR: What's next for you as a writer?

CP: A new thriller! But the new book is not really an espionage novel, though a familiar spy or two may reappear.


20 likes · like


Comments (showing 1-22 of 22) (22 new)

dateDown_arrow    newest »

message 1: by Andrew (new)

Andrew I also just finished it and loved it. We have pals doing the Expat thing in Luxembourg so that was cool. But as a recent convert to stay-at-home Dad, the aspects of reinventing oneself and needing challenges beyond the mundane rang really true. The tug and pull between joy at family life and the sheer boredom of some of the minutia of the same thing is a strange combo.

It's a really fun read that has some great reveals at the end.


message 2: by Margit (new)

Margit Hey, that sounds great. As an expat, this is a must-reas for me!


message 3: by Ruth (new)

Ruth Deichman I have just read the first 100 pages, and I'm hooked. It's a wonderful turn around to see the Expat situation from the woman's angle, and from the cynical nature born of her previous occupation.


message 4: by Mhenley (new)

Mhenley I am reading this now and love it!


message 5: by Lynn (new)

Lynn Welch I must be the lone ranger, but I believe The Expats was the most disjointed, poorly written books I've read in quite some time. The story line didn't flow; it criss crossed itself and left the reader confused. The concept was interesting, but lost it's allure in the telling.


message 6: by Mark (new)

Mark Treadway Great interview. Have to add this to my ever-growing list of "to-reads." Hearing a ton of good words about this debut novel..


message 7: by Margit (new)

Margit I'm now half-way through and I have to say I absolutely love it! . I also posted the interview on twitter, ad lots of people were very interested!


message 8: by Moses (new)

Moses Mkenala Want to read it, cant wait to get my hands on it


message 9: by Margit (new)

Margit Yup, me again, sor-ry! I have now finished "The Expats" and can thoroughly recommend it. I'd also like to add that this is the first book I got to know via Goodreads, i.e. Social Media. I conversed with other people about it on Social Media (twitter), became a fan and a friend of the author on Social Media, will write a review on Amazon or Goodreads (Social Media) and perhaps a blog post on the whole experience. So there!


message 10: by Mark (new)

Mark Treadway Wow! Sounds like a quick read for you, as well! Looking forward to reading it...


message 11: by Mark (new)

Mark Treadway Just started reading this last night. Thru Chapter 3 but so far it is a VERY fun and intriguing read!


message 12: by Ramona (new)

Ramona selvage I have just read the first 100 pages, and I'm hooked. It's a wonderful turn around to see the Expat situation from the woman's angle, and from the cynical nature born of her previous occupation.


message 13: by Wes (new)

Wes zemel I am reading this now and love it!


message 14: by Darling (new)

Darling policeman nice book


message 15: by Denita (new)

Denita mcdaniel it's nice


message 16: by Marble (new)

Marble smelly excellent


Animedubbedonline beautiful


message 18: by Dreams (new)

Dreams nucleus Wow! Sounds like a quick read for you, as well! Looking forward to reading it...


message 19: by Spade (new)

Spade Spade Hey, that sounds great. As an expat, this is a must-reas for me!


message 20: by Paul (new)

Paul Blanchard beautiful


message 21: by Nativemedia (new)

Nativemedia Yup, me again, sor-ry! I have now finished "The Expats" and can thoroughly recommend it. I'd also like to add that this is the first book I got to know via Goodreads, i.e. Social Media.


message 22: by Feline (new)

Feline herb This is beautiful.


back to top

Debut Author Snapshot
Goodreads Voice