So I thought it’d be a nice contrast against a legitimate bestselling thriller author, a guy whose books start at No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller lists—Daniel Silva. His protagonist is Gabriel Allon, a semi-retired Israeli spy who also restores paintings by the Old Masters. It’s a unique mix that’s just believable enough to work, as Silva is quite good with the details. His The Kill Artist was amazing, though a later work I read was a great deal less impressive.
On July 29, 2010, Silva arrived for about 200-250 people at the St. Louis County Public Library wearing a tie, suit jacket and complementary pants. (The most dressed up I’ve ever seen of an author at any reading.) When the host announced the winner of the drawing for a signed copy of his latest book, The Rembrandt Affair, he took the book from the host and walked it to the winner, shaking her hand. It was a classy touch.
Here are some highlights from the Q&A:
Writing a Thriller
- For every thriller, he reads between 50-80 non-fiction books while he’s writing—“I don’t have any time to read fiction.”
- He researches “all the way to the end.”
- Due to the realities of the publishing world, he must write 1 book a year, so basically he starts every January in his basement. So 1 book = 5 months of intense labor.
- He goes through every step of the different world-wide locales in his books to make sure he gets his facts correct. For The Rembrandt Affair he went to every locale, but one (because his daughter caught the swine flu), so another person went for him.
- He can’t enjoy reading his books until they’re in paperback.
- He has to crack open the past books to remember details about his characters. He says he’s started suffering from short-term memory loss.
- He said Allon was meant to be a minor character in The Body Artist, but he took over the book. He had switched publishers, so they asked him to pursue something new. He decided to focus on a Palestinian terrorist. That’s how he started, but that’s not how it ended. He’s been writing massive bestsellers ever since.
- He supplies “World Tour” T-shirts to anyone who purchases his latest book on-site.
- A fan came from
(at least a four hour drive) to attend this reading. Kentucky
- Silva said
is his favorite spot on book tours because it generates his biggest crowds. He said earlier on the 2-week tour, he’d been at a Costco, stuck between tires and cans of tuna. “The cans of tuna were as big as the tires.” St. Louis
- He cut off at 7:50, after about 45 minutes, because he said his voice was going (after nearly 2 weeks on the book tour).
- When someone good-naturedly asked about his wife and two kids, his face froze hard for a moment. This topic was obviously verboten. He answered generally and moved on.
- He turns 50 this year.
- Naturally, he’s been approached by
, but has rebuffed their efforts so far because he hasn’t been happy with the directing and writing talent involved. One executive told him, “What’s wrong with you? Just take the money. You’re the only one who won’t sell your books. You and that … that guy who wrote Catcher in the Hollywood . Are you afraid we’ll make a bad movie? Of course we’ll make a bad movie. That’s what we do everyday.” Rye