"The Expats," by Chris Pavone

"The Expats" by Chris Pavone

Jeff Glor talks to Chris Pavone about, "The Expats."

Jeff Glor: What inspired you to write the book?

Chris Pavone: A few years ago, my wife came home from work and asked, "What would you think of living in Luxembourg?" In truth I didn't know precisely where--or what--Luxembourg was. (A nation? A city? Both. Kind of.) I'd never lived anywhere besides New York and a college town, and this seemed like a great opportunity to rectify that hole in my life experience. So we moved to Europe for Madeline's new job, and I became what's called a trailing spouse, which is an expat without a job. Rather, an expat whose job is to take care of children, and a household, and the residency permits and car inspections and veterinary appointments, all in a different language. And I noticed that many trailing spouses--nearly all of them women--had only the vaguest idea of what their husbands actually did all day. And conversely very few of those office workers really understood what we did with our time at home. So I wrote a book that asks: what if both people are extremely wrong?

JG: What surprised you the most during the writing process?

CP: I was astounded by how much I loved the original writing--facing the blank piece of paper (i.e., a blank screen)--and how intensely I loathed revising. Unfortunately the rewriting took twice as long as the original writing.

JG: What would you be doing if you weren't a writer?

CP: I was a book editor for fifteen years. If I didn't want to write, I'd never have quit. Editing is a great thing to do for a living, and I think it's becoming more important every year, with this digital explosion of material that's now constantly erupting. And it's not just book editing we need, but everything editing--sifting through all the content that's floating around out there, choosing which of it merits the broadest audience, then helping to develop that content so it's the best it can be, and can be marketed and distributed into the world in a way that helps readers, viewers, and listeners find what it is we want.

JG: What else are you reading right now?

CP: In a New Yorker online article on "The Best Books of 2012," Malcolm Gladwell recommends two thrillers. I wrote one of them. I'm reading the other, a wonderful espionage novel called "Shake Off" by Mischa Hiller.

JG: What's next for you?

CP: I just finished writing a first draft of a new novel, "The Accident." As with "The Expats," this story is set in an ordinary world I know intimately: the book business. But also as with "The Expats," the events that drive the plot are anything but ordinary. Plus, there are spies.


Pavone talks about how he came up with one of the central questions posed in his book, "The Expats"
Author Chris Pavone on what we don't know about each other

For more on "The Expats," visit the Random House website.