Author Chris Pavone on the NYC roots of ‘The Paris Diversion’

"The Paris Diversion" by Chris Pavone is out May 7.
"The Paris Diversion" by Chris Pavone is out May 7. Photo Credit: Michael Parmelee/FX

Chris Pavone’s new thriller, “The Paris Diversion,” has the French capital gripped by fear of a cataclysmic terrorist attack. CIA agent-turned-bored housewife Kate Moore, from Pavone’s 2012 debut, “The Expats,” is running a group of off-the-grid operatives in the city and gets caught up in the plot.

Pavone doesn’t produce boilerplate thrillers, writing characters he hopes are more relatable than the “really powerful, not particularly humanized, damaged, alcoholic loners” so prevalent in the genre.

“[I write] books about people who are thrust into conflict with one another and need to resolve that conflict,” Pavone told amNewYork. “And I hope that those conflicts seem real, even if they are exaggerated from what most of us experience in real life.”

Pavone talked with amNewYork about his process and the New York roots of his latest novel, out May 7.

On keeping several threads over a 12-hour timeline straight:

“I write a lot of material for myself that is not going to be in the book. … The way I structure the narrative for readers is I leave out a lot of information and you’re forced to solve a bunch of puzzles over the course of the book, and all of the puzzles fit together in one big puzzle. But it’s important for me as the creator of that puzzle to know what the truth is about everybody all along.”

How 9/11 inspired the book:

“My wife and I lived four blocks from the World Trade Center, and I was home at 8:47 that morning … I saw the hole in the World Trade Center. … I was still looking out the window when the second plane hit … and I was still sitting in that window when the first building came down, and a giant cloud of debris was hurtling my way at however many hundreds of miles an hour and … I picked up the dog and ran away from the window and I thought that I was about to die. … All of a sudden we were back at work and anthrax envelopes were popping up everywhere and my office building was being evacuated due to bomb threats every few days, and everybody in New York was scared all the time.”

How visiting Paris in 2016 inspired the book:

“This was a year after the Charlie Hebdo massacre and the November attacks [in Saint-Denis], and it was just days after this horrific attack in Nice on Bastille Day, and … I was amazed how much it seemed like New York in the fall of 2001. There were just uniforms and guns everywhere, and people were clearly scared. When there was a big noise, people jumped just like they jumped in New York in 2001, and everything reminded me so much of what it was like to be here then, to be scared on a regular basis.”

On revisiting Moore:

“I didn’t have an idea for what that continuation would be until this week in Paris … when I saw it so clearly what the terrorist event would be and what the plot of the book would be and how [everyone] would be involved. … It was really the most satisfying work experience I’ve ever had.”


Chris Pavone reads from "The Paris Diversion" on May 8 at 7 p.m. at Barnes & Noble TriBeCa | 97 Warren St., 212-587-5389, barnesandnoble.com | FREE