How did you become a writer?
I worked in New York publishing for two decades, mostly as an acquiring editor, then my wife got a job in Luxembourg. I left my career behind and followed hers to a new life as an expat in Europe, where I began writing a novel about expats, called The Expats.
Name your writing influences (writers, books, teachers, etc.).
For a few weeks in the mid-1990s, my job was to help make sure that Pat Conroy finished revising his novel Beach Music, and we spent a lot of time together. I was a young man, not yet writing, though I knew that one day I would. And it was from Pat, a quarter-century ago, that I learned what it means to be a working commercial novelist.
When and where do you write?
I left my last office job and took on freelance writing projects when my kids were little, home all day with a babysitter; that apartment was not a place where a person could write. So I joined a members club to have somewhere to go during the day, and 13 years later that’s where I still go first thing in the morning until I get hungry.
What are you working on now?
For the past month it has been my full-time job to promote my fourth novel, The Paris Diversion, just published on May 7.
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?
Not exactly. But I often suffer from the problem of not wanting to write the thing that I’m supposed to write today, which I solve by writing something else, which inevitably leads me back to the thing I’m supposed to write, now with a fresh eye.
What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
“Not enough happens.”
What’s your advice to new writers?
Writing for yourself is what a diary is for. But if you’re writing with the hope of being published, that means you’re writing for the public, which is to say: not for yourself, but for readers. Never forget them.
Chris Pavone is the New York Times–bestselling author of The Expats, winner of the Edgar and Anthony awards for best first novel, The Accident, The Travelers, and most recently The Paris Diversion. He was a book editor for nearly two decades, and lives in New York City with his family.