July 27, 2013

Daniel Silva Launches "English Girl" Featuring Art Restorer Gabriel Allon at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue

by Tanya K. Lervik, ARCA Alum

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Wednesday night, New York Times bestselling author Daniel Silva endured lighthearted ribbing and a gentle grilling by his wife, veteran journalist Jamie Gangel at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue.  The event celebrated the launch of Silva's latest novel, "The English Girl."  The hero of Silva's series, Gabriel Allon, an art restorer turned Mossad covert agent, is drawn once again into a complex adventure - this time an attempt to rescue the kidnapped secret mistress of the British Prime Minister.  The packed audience welcomed several prominent guests including the Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren; Newt and Callista Gingrich; and celebrated CNN  journalist Bernard Shaw.

Daniel Silva explained how his background as a journalist, first at UPI, and then as a writer at CNN helped prepare him to create his popular series of novels.  One audience member asked about how he dealt with "writer's block".  Mr. Silva replied that, though he might not always be pleased with his writing, he does not have difficulty in writing the 1000 words per day required to complete a novel.  He credits his time as a reporter with that discipline because there was no time for hesitation.  Stories had to be written to a tight deadline.

Interestingly, Daniel Silva described how his main character, Gabriel Allon, was never meant to be the main focus of his first book.  Mr. Silva does not outline his novels in advance, and they evolve as he writes. He described the character as "just taking over" as he wrote, which is fortunate for his fans now enjoying the thirteenth installment in the series.

Research plays an important role in the process, according to Daniel Silva, including library research, expert interviews, and travel.  One memorable experience Mr. Silva described was visiting with the Vatican's expert restorers.  By chance, as he walked through the workshop, he noticed an unfinished work by Leonardo da Vinci, unframed and awaiting repairs.  Astonished, Silva was treated to an up close inspection of the masterpiece by the Vatican specialist.

He said the idea for this current book coalesced as he was standing in St. Peter's in Rome.   As he stood there, he kept hearing a piece of scripture resonating in his head, "And the house which Solomon made for the Lord was sixty cubits long, twenty cubits wide and thirty cubits high."   Silva said, "Of course it wasn't my voice I heard saying it.  It was Bernie's (Bernard Shaw),"  which brought chuckles from the audience in acknowledgment of the broadcaster's famous baritone. 

Though the character, Gabriel Allon, has aged into his sixties, Silva has no plans to retire the series anytime soon.  When asked whether the series might someday make the leap to film, Silva said he had been in negotiations, but that he was very concerned about keeping control of the end product. Regardless, the future seems bright for the author and his novels with their unlikely fusion of fine art and spy-craft.


I discovered Daniel Silva and his wonderful character Gabriel Allon a couple of years ago, and have been enjoying catching up with the series every chance I get! I'm now reading "The Messenger", and it's so much fun to watch the "evolution" of the "Angel of Death".

Great reading, when I retired my wife recommended I read the Daniel Silva books, I started and read them all during the first year and read each new book when released, what a great escape.

I have enjoyed all of Daniel's books and started "The English Girl" this morning. I put it off as long as I could because once started, there is no putting it down.

I found the first book in the series as I was about to take an international flight from NYC on business. I was hooked and have read them all as well as the first three pre-Allon. It was an honor to get to meet him very briefly and shake his hand at his book signing event here in The Villages.

I agree. I read all of his books this year and I have the English Girl on my shelf, because I am not looking forward to waiting a year for the next one.

What ever you do Daniel Silva, do not make any movie featuring your top character Gabriel Allon. Just look at the horrible movie staring Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher! The movie was a total failure and shame on Lee Child for letting it happened...I guess money do talk.

I look forward to your books every summer. The English Girl was terrific. Thanks so much for doing such a great job with these books and bringing back the wonderful cast of characters. Your description of the various venues where the action takes place brings back so many memories of my European travels. As far as the film goes, it can be done - but you have to work with a director you can really trust and make sure the people involved are invested into more than one Allon film.

If Mel Brooks can play Shamron..then maybe Gabriel Alon can be Liev Schrieber? Chiarra can be Neve Campbell or Maggie Gyleenhaal?

Did Daniel Silva used to be in a spy agency?