Five Questions with Mark Pryor
Photo © Todd V. Wolfson
'Zine of the Crime: Your second Hugo Marston novel is out this month! How has this release felt different than the first?
I've been a little less giddy, but only a little. The first one came out in October so it's not been very long, and I still can't believe the fun I'm having with both books. I plan to have another party, of course, any excuse for that! I would say that this release has been a little less stressful, too. I had NO idea how Hugo would go down with the reading public eight months ago, now it seems there's a little space for him in people's hearts (or book shelves) so I don't have to worry quite so much about that. On the other hand, I have to make sure I do him justice with the story... but so far so good, the feedback has been pretty positive and I have no complaints at all about the way this second release is unfolding.
'Zine: How has your main character, Hugo Marston,
changed since his last appearance and the events of
Hugo is a pretty placid fellow, and the two cases are not very far apart in time so he hasn't gone through any great changes. But I would say that he was definitely touched by what happened to Max [the bookstall owner who went missing in The Bookseller], and the Hugo that does everything alone, the tough FBI agent who relies on no one but himself, has realized that he's not such a rock after all. Loss, and love, and overcoming the coldness of a French policeman have all shown him that connections are not just necessary, but frequently rewarding.
'Zine: How have his relationships with other characters
The most visible change may be his professional relationship with Capitaine Garcia, which evolves into a friendship. That would be the most obvious, perhaps. But his relationship with Tom is also evolving. Sure, the old friends are back together and raising hell, but with Tom's ... shall we say wildness, his love for loose women and the bottle, Hugo has another worry on his hands. And, of course, Hugo also has a love interest that he didn't have 12 months earlier, and it's the relationship in his life that he comes to feel the least control over. Not just his own feelings, but Claudia's response to them, and to him.
'Zine: Describe a new character that you've introduced in this second book.
He's known as The Scarab, and he's the sort of man Hugo was born to hunt. He's a killer, a serial killer even, but that's not what drives him. I can't reveal his underlying motives, of course, but suffice to say that he's as evil and cunning a man as Hugo's ever faced. And unfortunately for Hugo, The Scarab has his own special way of flitting around Paris, and it makes catching him both difficult and dangerous. I also take Hugo back to the Pyrenees mountains, a place he visited in The Bookseller. We get a closer look, though, because the mountains themselves played an integral role in the life of The Scarab, and are a place full of mystery and menace. And maybe salvation.
'Zine: Can you give us a sneak peek at what we'll see in the next Hugo Marston novel?
Absolutely. It's called The Blood Promise and takes place in Paris, bien sur, and in two country homes on either side of the City of Light. It's something of a whodunnit, and will introduce a new (and hopefully lasting) character. On the downside, someone who appeared in both of the first two books is destined for an untimely ending, giving Hugo reason to ponder his own mortality and the loss of a friend. In the end, though, he and Tom (I could never kill Tom!) prevail and Hugo finds himself in the final pages with one more mystery: where the heck is his best friend disappearing to every Sunday evening?
The Big Thrill also asked Pryor a few questions about his writing process. Read that interview here.