MysteryPeople Q&A with Mark Pryor

Mark Pryor is one of our favorites here at MysteryPeople – we’ve followed his Hugo Marston series from the very beginning, and we’re happy to welcome The Sorbonne Affairthe seventh volume of the series, to our shelves. Mark joins us to speak and sign his latest on Saturday, August 26th, at 6 PM, along with James W. Ziskin and Traci Lambrecht of P.J. Tracy. Ahead of the event, our Meike Alana sat down with Mark to ask him about the book, Paris, his busy schedule, and what’s next. 

 

  • Interview by MysteryPeople Contributor Meike Alana

Meike Alana: Your love of books (which you share with your protagonist, Hugo Marston) is on full display in the series (titles include The Bookseller and The Paris Librarian). Your latest, The Sorbonne Affair, deals with a best-selling American romance writer who discovers a hidden camera in her room at Paris’ Sorbonne hotel. You poke some fun at the romance genre–Hugo is slightly disdainful towards romance, and is incredulous to discover that many of his accomplished, intelligent friends are fans of the author. Do you care to elaborate on your own views?

Mark Pryor: Absolutely—my position is that a good book is a good book. As such, I hope it comes across as people poking fun at Hugo for being a book snob. I know for a fact some of my readers are also lovers of the romance genre, and just last month I gave a talk to a crowded and enthusiastic room of romance writers.

Ha, but you’re wondering if I read romance, though, aren’t you? Yes, I have and I would. My problem is that I don’t have time to read much, and almost all my reading time these days seems to be taken up blurbing books for other people. That means I have to prioritize, which in turn means I have a giant stack of unread books in my bedroom!

But again, what I’m trying to point out in a playful way is that if a book is good, its subject or genre shouldn’t matter, and yet there are some people who insist their reading or writing are more… let’s say elevated and don’t include one genre or another.

MA: This is the 7th installment of your series featuring the Paris-based Hugo, although Hugo has traveled to London (The Button Man) and Barcelona (The Reluctant Matador). For anyone planning a visit to Paris I always recommend they read one of your books–you so aptly capture the Parisian energy and mystique. Yet you’re a Brit who lives in Austin, Texas. How do you manage to capture the spirit of the City of Light so perfectly? And what’s your favorite spot in Paris?

MP: Thank you for the kind words, I try hard to bring Paris to my readers. To do so, and I know it’s tough, but I try to make myself go there as often as possible. Choke down a croissant or two, suffer through a dozen garlic snails, drag myself along the city’s boulevards on crisp autumn evenings. We all know artists suffer, and as you can see, I suffer as much as any of them…

As for my favorite spot, well, I have several. I always visit the bookstore Shakespeare & Co., and a walk in front of Notre Dame is a must. Other than that, I try to find new places to explore and share. There are always undiscovered cafes and restaurants, little parks and squares and churches.

MA: Previous Hugo novels have hinted at his previous FBI career but we’ve never learned the details about why he left that agency. We learn more about that in The Sorbonne Affair. What made you decide it was time for the reader to learn about the events leading up that his career change?

MP: Your boss. Seriously. That marvelous bookseller Scott Montgomery has said to me since the very first novel that he was sure there was a story behind Hugo and Tom leaving the FBI. I assured him on multiple occasions that no, there really wasn’t.
Turns out he was right.

As for why, I think it’s because I’m always trying to show a new side to Hugo. He’s a hard man to get to know so this particular event gives us a really good look at his psyche, and why his friendship with Tom means so much—to both of them. I better stop there before I give too much away.

MA: Given the complexity of your plots, the evocative Paris setting, the well-developed characters many readers would be surprised to know that you don’t write full-time; in fact, you balance your writing with a challenging legal career and a full family life including 3 young children. How in the world do you find time to write? Do you have to be very disciplined and organized, or do you just randomly throw words on the page when you can carve out a few free minutes?

MP: It’s all about the discipline, filling every spare moment with either writing or something book-related. The way I explain it is to say that I never, ever, have a moment in my life when I think, “Oh, nothing going on today, what should I do?” Ever. Even on July 4 I had to take time to write a couple thousand words in between pool trips and burger-making.

That said, I have no complaints at all. I have a fascinating job, books I love to write, and hugely supportive family and friends (and readers!). So, yes, I’m crazy busy but in all the best ways.

MA: What’s next for Hugo?

MP: I have a few ideas rolling around in my head but so far it’s all a little hazy. More than likely he’ll be paying a visit to Lake Como in Italy, which won’t be too much of a hardship I suspect (for him or me!). I want to develop the secondary plot like from The Sorbonne Affair a little more, the new threat to Hugo and Tom. And I think I want a princess in the book. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

MA: In addition to the Hugo series, you wrote the outstanding psychological thriller Hollow Man. (For anyone who hasn’t read it, the book tells the story of Dominic, a psychopath British district attorney who lives in Austin. Pryor is a British district attorney who lives in Austin. He assures us the work is “completely fiction.” Hmm….) Any plans for another book about Dominic?

MP: Dang it Meike, you know what a sweet, kind, non-psychopathic chappie I am! I haven’t killed anyone for ages and ages, I promise!

Actually, on January 30, 2018, the sequel to Hollow Man will be published by Seventh Street Books. It’s called Dominic, which is suitably ego-centric for that character. This time around he’s set his sights on a judgeship that he would like, but to get there he has to deal with two significant problems: a colleague going for that same position, and a detective who still has questions about Dominic’s role in a murder that someone else went to prison for.

MA: We always like to ask for reading recommendations from our favorite writers. Read anything lately that you want to tell us about?

MP: Oh, good, this lets me have a quick rave about Erik Larson’s Dead Wake, which is one of the best non-fiction books I’ve read in years. I’m also about to delve into Unsub by Meg Gardiner and Blame by Jeff Abbott. Oh, and the new James Ziskin, Cast The First Stone. Love that series. As you can see, my TBR pile is greater than my recently-finished stack, but to be fair it’s because I’m reading some manuscripts for blurb purposes, and not so much published work.

You can find copies of The Sorbonne Affair on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. Mark Pryor joins us Saturday, August 26th at 6 PM to speak and sign his latest. He’ll be appearing with fellow crime writers Traci Lambrecht (of P.J. Tracy) and James W. Ziskin. 

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MysteryPeople Pick of the Month: THE SORBONNE AFFAIR by Mark Pryor

Mark Pryor’s latest Hugo Marston novel is our Pick of the Month for August! The Sorbonne Affair comes out Tuesday, August 22nd. Mark Pryor joins us to speak and sign his latest on Saturday, August 26th at 6 PM – he’ll be joined by fellow crime writers James W. Ziskin and Traci Lambrecht (of the writing duo PJ Tracy).

  • Review by MysteryPeople Blogger Meike Alana

9781633882614Mark Pryor is a perennial favorite here at MysteryPeople.  His Hugo Marston series has just enough danger and grit for noir-lover Scott, a sufficient level of international intrigue for world traveler Molly, and a cast of well-developed realistic characters for Meike (the dominatrix who gets Hugo into a pair of leather chaps is a personal fave– but I digress).  The BookPeople marketing staff witnessed quite the wrestling match when an advance reader copy of Pryor’s latest, The Sorbonne Affair, landed in the office; through sheer will Meike came up the victor (and you’re welcome for that visual).

Pryor’s Paris-based novels feature Hugo Marston, head of security for the US Embassy in Paris; the former FBI profiler’s best friend Tom is his partner in crime and the solving thereof.  In The Sorbonne Affair Hugo comes to the aid of well-known American romance author Helen Hancock, who has discovered a hidden camera in her room at Paris’ Sorbonne Hotel.  What begins as a surveillance affair almost immediately explodes into a murder investigation when the hotel employee believed to have been responsible for hiding the camera is found brutally murdered.  Soon a racy video featuring the author in a state of undress, clasping the equally unclothed body of one of her students, spreads like wildfire across the internet.  Hugo teams up with Lieutenant Camille Lerens to unmask the killer before he can strike again, but secrets run deep at the hotel and Hugo seems to hit one dead end after another.  At the same time Hugo must deal with a shadow from his past that could threaten his contented life in Paris.

Pryor is a fantastic storyteller and there is much to love about The Sorbonne Affair.  The complex plot is deftly woven and unspools at a perfectly measured pace; the unique characters are well-drawn and satisfyingly complex.  While this is not a light-hearted cozy romp through Paris, Pryor does weave bits of humor throughout his novels; bibliophiles will particularly enjoy Hugo’s incredulity at the width and breadth of romance author Hancock’s following–it seems even Hugo’s boss is a fan!  (Side note: The hardcore mystery fan looking for some great recommendations should pay attention to mentions of Hugo’s night-time reading.)    Finally, Pryor’s deep and abiding love for Paris shines through in his descriptions of the city and its denizens, and a croissant with café au lait (or perhaps a wedge of brie and red wine) would be the ideal accompaniment to this latest installment in the series.

Mark Pryor is a British-American prosecutor who works as an Assistant District Attorney in BookPeople’s hometown of Austin, Texas.  In addition to his six previous Hugo Marston novels, he is the author of the thriller The Hollow Man, the first in a new series. (The novel’s protagonist is a British Assistant District Attorney in Austin who is also a psychopath and goes on a killing spree.  Pryor assures us repeatedly that the character is “completely fictional.”) Keep an eye out in January for the sequel, Dominic: A Hollow Man Novel, which promises to be just as creepy as the first! 

The Sorbonne Affair comes out Tuesday, August 22nd – pre-order now! Mark Pryor joins us to speak and sign his latest on Saturday, August 26th at 6 PM – he’ll be joined by fellow crime writers James W. Ziskin and Traci Lambrecht (of the writing duo PJ Tracy).

Letters to Santa: Hugo Marston & Walt Longmire

mysterypeople-holiday-logo

This year the MysteryPeople staff decided to have some fun with letters to Santa from some of our favorite crime fiction characters. We decided to wind up the blog series with letters from two authors – Craig Johnson, creator of Sheriff Walt Longmire, and Mark Pryor, who gave us US Embassy Director Of Security Hugo Marston. Each sent along a list of the perfect gifts for their heroes. 

Hugo Marston, Director of Security for the US Embassy in Paris, would like to receive this holiday season:

  • A signed, first edition, Sherlock Holmes book.
  • A new pair of Tomy Lama boots.
  • A two-week vacation. For (from?!) Tom.
  • A bottle of Chateau Pichon Lalande, to share with Claudia. Maybe a case, they’re in it for the long haul.
  • A coffee maker that requires no coffee making ability whatsoever.
  • A subscription to The Economist. (To be shared with Emma, his secretary.)
  • News that the new President-elect will be retaining the services of Hugo’s boss, Ambassador J. Bradford Taylor.

You can find Mark Pryor’s Hugo Marston series on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. 

Sheriff Walt Longmire doesn’t have many needs, but he would appreciate the following items:

  • Rainier Beer Jubilee Half-Quart cans
  • Plutarch’s Lives, eight volume leather-bound set, J&R Tonson &S. Draper, London 1749
  • 20 Rounds 230 grain JHP .45 ACP ammo
  • A gift certificate for “The Usual”, Busy Bee Café
  • And, Ham, any variety (for Dog)

You can find Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire series on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. 

Mark Pryor to Visit the Murder in the Afternoon Book Club

  • Post by Scott M.

 

On Monday December 19th, at 1 PM on BookPeople’s 3rd floor, The Murder In The Afternoon Book Club is celebrating the holidays with one of our favorite authors. Mark Pryor has steadily made a name for himself with his hero Hugo Marston, head of security for the U.S. Embassy in Paris. He’ll be joining us to discuss the first book in the series, The Bookseller.

The story starts with one of Hugo’s main loves, books. When approaching the bookstall of Max, a dealer he does business with, he spots the old man being shoved into a car that speeds off. Out of his jurisdiction and with the help of a beautiful Parisian journalist, Claudia Roux, and his loose-cannon buddy with the CIA, Tom Green, Hugo is off to save Max. His search leads him to a shadowy world involving books, drugs, and secrets from the Second World War.

Mark is incredibly fun to talk to, so it should be a great discussion. We will be meeting at 1PM, Monday, December 19th on the third floor. The Bookseller is 10% off to those who attend.Since this is a holiday party as well as book discussion, everybody is asked to bring some kind of treat.

You can find copies of The Bookseller on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. The Murder in the Afternoon Book Club will meet to discuss The Bookseller with special guest Mark Pryor on Monday, December 19th, at 1 PM

If You Like Myron Bolitar & Win….

  • Post by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

9780525955108Recently, Harlan Coben delivered a new Myron Bolitar novel, Home, after what seemed like a long wait. One of the keys to the success of this series is his relationship with his rich and lethal buddy, Win. If you like great banter with a sketchy sidekick who always has the hero’s back, here are three other crime fiction bromances I’d suggest. You can find copies of Coben’s latest on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. Signed copies available!

Hugo Marston & Tom Green

Created by Mark Pryor

the booksellerFirst Book Together: The Bookseller

Hugo Marston, the square-jawed head of security at the American Embassy in Paris, has a sense of morality that could put a boy scout to shame. For morally ambiguous tasks, he often relies on a friend from his FBI days, Tom Green. Tom works with the CIA, has no filter and will drink anything in a bottle and chase anyone in a skirt. Anybody who has a dealt with a self destructive, yet entertaining friend will recognize these two.

Spenser and Hawk

Created by Robert Parker

9780440171973First Book Together: Promised Land

Hired gun Hawk was brought in by the bad guys during the fourth book in Robert B. Parker’s series to take on white knight PI Spenser. and ended up as the textbook detective-sidekick relationship. Whether written by creator Parker or torch carrier Ace Atkins, these books show how this kind relationship is done.

Easy Rawlins & Mouse

Created by Walter Mosley

devil in a blue dressFirst Book Together: Devil In A Blue Dress

Takes the peaceful-hero-violent-sidekick relationship to a higher, more complex level. While the sociopath buddy often allows the crime fiction hero’s hands to be clean with the results obtained, Easy is all too aware of his complicity in bringing Mouse into his dangerous games. It also shows how society and racism can push two unlikely people together.

Beautiful women, French food, and rare books: MysteryPeople reviews THE PARIS LIBRARIAN by Mark Pryor

Come by BookPeople on Saturday, August 20th, at 6 PM, for a panel discussion with two fantastic authors from Seventh Street Books! Mark Pryor will be speaking and signing his latest Hugo Marston novel, The Paris Librarianreviewed below. He’ll be joined by James Ziskin, author of the Ellie Stone series, speaking and signing Heart of Stone. 

  • Post by MysteryPeople Contributor and Character in the Novel Meike Alana

9781633881778The Paris Librarian is the latest installment in Mark Pryor’s series featuring Hugo Marston, the cowboy-boot wearing former FBI profiler from Texas who now heads up security at the American Embassy in Paris. It has something for everyone—booze, guns, action, beautiful women, history, humor, danger, fantastic French food, and BOOKS!  

The novel finds Hugo, an avid collector of rare books, negotiating a potential addition to his collection—his friend Paul Rogers, the director of the American Library, is arranging the sale of some books to raise funds for the library.  Hugo and Paul set up a meeting for the next morning, but when Hugo arrives at the library he finds Paul dead, the victim of an apparent heart attack.  Paul had been inside a locked room so it doesn’t appear that foul play was involved, but Hugo has a tingling in the back of his neck which suggests there may be more at play—and years of experience have proven that tingling is rarely wrong.

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MysteryPeople Q&A with Mark Pryor

On September 30th, at 7 PM on BookPeople’s second floor, we will be hosting Mark Pryor, author of the popular Hugo Marston series and, more recently, the standalone novel Hollow Man, our September Pick Of The Month. Hollow Man differs greatly from his Paris-set Hugo Marston series, following an Austin prosecutor and musician who is also a sociopath. Here is a quick discussion we had with Mark about writing such a different book than we’re used to from him.

MysteryPeople Scott: Hollow Man is completely different from the Hugo books. Were you deliberately wanting to write something different and darker or simply following an idea that popped into your head?

Mark Pryor: I would say the latter, except that it didn’t so much “pop” as germinate and gestate. Elements of the story had been rolling around in my head for a couple of years but it wasn’t until I was told about a real-life Ambrosio Silva-type character that the whole novel began to take shape. In fact, originally, the girl in the green dress was to be the protagonist, not Dominic. I suppose in some ways she remained the driving force but unlike most of my books, this one was very much a slow cook.

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