Saturday, August 20, 2022

Mark Pryor

Mark Pryor is a former newspaper reporter and felony prosecutor, originally from England but now living in Austin, Texas. He is the author of the Hugo Marston mystery series, set in Paris, London, and Barcelona. Pryor is also the author of the psychological thrillers, Hollow Man, and its sequel, Dominic. As a prosecutor, he appeared on CBS News's 48 Hours and Discovery Channel's Discovery ID: Cold Blood.

Pryor's new novel is Die Around Sundown.

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

The title comes from an album by my favorite band Kings of Leon, that album being Come Around Sundown. I wanted to evoke the idea of something dark and mysterious coming the reader's way, an inevitable and inescapable draw towards sundown and death. Of course, not the death of a specific person, not until you get into the book, but that idea that with darkness comes danger. And that is true for the main story line, the investigation Henri Lefort is pursuing, but also his tortured past, which unfurls more slowly throughout the course of the book.

What's in a name?

In this book, everything. Let me explain: just prior to writing it, I'd finished a YA novel set in Amsterdam during WW2. In that book, I named the main character for my eldest child. So when I started Die Around Sundown, and once I realized I had two main characters who were a male and a female, it made sense to name them after my other two kids. Ergo, Henri for Henry and Nicola for... well, Nicola. The amusing thing about it, for me, is that in real life they are very similar and butt heads like crazy, so making them get on well and even share an apartment as adults was delicious.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your new novel?

What a great question! In this case, not even a little bit. As a teenager I read nothing but mystery novels, and was obsessed with WW2. So for frizzy-haired teenage Mark to pick this book up and read it, it's a given. I think he'd be thrilled and impressed that he/I had the focus to write an entire novel, too!

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

To start a novel, words and scenes rattle around together in my brain until exactly the right moment in the action reveals itself. It's like watching a movie but paying half attention, until something happens that makes you go, "Whoa, what?" It's only then that I put words onto paper, only once I know that I cannot possibly start the book a second later. I suppose it's the same with the end, but that's a slower reveal in that it comes to me as I'm writing.

As for which I change more, it's hard to say. I think I approach writing a little differently, in that I don't abide by the "write a terrible first draft and fix it later" maxim. What I put down on paper the first time is usually very close to what ends up there. I think that's a function of having been a journalist (I write quickly) and a lawyer (I write with precision). It's also a function of being lazy and hating editing, but that's our little secret...

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

I think in this book more than any other, they are a world apart. Perhaps it's because the book is set in 1940, and I cannot imagine myself in that world. I do see some similarities, for example Henri's smart-aleck personality is (I have heard) a trait I occasionally exhibit.
Visit Mark Pryor's website.

My Book, The Movie: Die Around Sundown.

--Marshal Zeringue