the expats

Guest Blog: How a Stay-At-Home Dad Penned His First Novel (And Win a Copy of His Book!)

March 12, 2012 at 3:31 pm , by

The Expats, a first novel by former book editor Chris Pavone, is an international espionage thriller that’s invited comparisons to Graham Greene, John Le Carré and Robert Ludlum. The protagonist, Kate Moore, is (as was Pavone for a time) an expat and stay-at-home parent living a typical expat life in Luxembourg. But she’s also guarding a tremendous, life-defining secret—one that slowly begins to unravel her neat routines. As she begins to uncover secrets about the people around her, she finds herself buried in layers of deceit so thick they threaten her family, her marriage and her life. This expertly crafted story will keep you guessing until the very last page.

In this guest blog, Pavone explains how a mysterious woman on a park bench inspired him to write the book. Plus, find out how to win your own copy of The Expats at the end of the post!

I’d spent nearly two decades sitting behind desks in New York City publishing houses when suddenly I found myself in Luxembourg, sitting on benches in playgrounds in the cold damp, making small talk with vague acquaintances about the things we used to do, the people we used to be, before we became people who did this, here. We were expat stay-at-home parents—in my case, to an energetic pair of then-four-year-old twin boys.

First-time novelist Chris Pavone, back in New York City, armed with the tools of his new trade: a cup of coffee and a manuscript ready for marking up. Pavone wrote most of The Expats in European cafés. Photo credit: Nina Subin

We stay-at-home parents had all arrived via roughly the same path: our spouses got interesting/exciting/lucrative job offers abroad, and we thought it sounded fun (or at least different). So we packed up everything we could bring, and left behind everything we couldn’t. For many of us, the latter included the jobs, the careers, the selves that we’d spent our adult lives defining. Now we had to become other people.

For all the fun of constantly traveling around Europe, and for all the newness of this adventure, it was hard for me to embrace the routine. Taking the kids to their international school, attending class-parents meetings, going to the gym or French lessons or the supermarket. Driving around a city I didn’t really know, ignoring traffic laws I didn’t entirely understand, in a language I didn’t properly speak. Looking for the things that my family needed, or wanted: underwear and raincoats, DVDs and sticker books, a vacuum cleaner and a toaster, a cordless drill and a metric measuring tape. Food that I could pack for the kids’ lunch that they wouldn’t reject.

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