a chat with silva

Best-selling author Daniel Silva visits Houstonians' living rooms in new virtual event

Daniel Silva visits Houstonians' living rooms in new virtual event

Daniel Silva author
Houstonians can hear from Daniel Silva in the comfort of their living rooms. Photo by Marco Grob

New York Times best-selling spy thriller author Daniel Silva is in conversation with CNN's Dana Bash, and Houstonians can get in on the virtual event.

The Bayou City's Murder By the Book has partnered with the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta and the National JCC Literary Consortium for this In Your Living Room Live event, marking the publication of Silva's latest book in the mega-popular Gabriel Allon series, The Cellist.

This virtual event will be held via Zoom on Monday, July 12 at 7 pm. Those who want to take part must purchase a copy of The Cellist from Murder By the Book in person or online, and will receive a link to the discussion.

It promises to be a lively one. Silva's thrillers, with their cosmopolitan international locales, starring spymaster, art restorer and assassin Gabriel Allon have, for two decades, offered readers insight into global intrigue. Plot points feel ripped from the headlines; in some cases, they even precede the deadlines.

"You can't be behind the curve in this genre," he tells CultureMap.

In book after book, Silva has looked ahead across world affairs, and crafted fast-paced, elegant, smart narratives that have not only proven his writing prowess but propelled him to the number one spot on the New York Times Bestseller List.

The Cellist sees the return of Gabriel Allon and his team. This time, in tracking down the truth behind the death of a Russian exile, Gabriel uncovers a Russian plot that seeks to undermine Western democracy from within. 

Silva has written about Russia and its meddling before in the series. Fans will recognize that The Cellist continues the string of developments seen in Moscow Rules, The Defector, and The Other Woman, among others. Bur those just entering the world of Gabriel Allon need not worry; every book is easily approached on its own. The Cellist explores how Russia uses money as a weapon.

"Money is Russia's greatest weapon," a Russian prisoner tells Gabriel in The Cellist. "A nuclear bomb can only be dropped once. But money can be wielded every day with no fallout and no threat of mutually assured destruction. Russian money is rotting the institutional integrity of the West from within."

"That," says Silva emphatically, "is the nub of the book."

Silva had just about finished writing it when insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6. 

"How could I not write about that?" he asks rhetorically. 

The event forced him to not only write an entirely different ending, but forced him to go back and rework the front two-thirds of the novel, causing him "many, many 14, 15-hour days." That's just about double his average writing time. 

Like many others, the author spent the pandemic at home. Last summer's release of The Order, the 20th book in the Gabriel Allon series, launched amid a flurry of virtual events, a trend that's continuing this year, as the U.S. grapples with the coronavirus Delta variant, vaccinations, and a slow return to normal life.

Silva notes that there was "an enormous audience" for one of the Facebook Live events last year, but he recognizes there's no comparison between that and the few precious minutes he spends talking to fans who turn up to his in-person signings. Still, his discussion with Bash will likely prove interesting viewing, especially given Silva's keen observations of current affairs.

The Cellist also offered Silva the opportunity to drop in something else he's keen on: classical music. 

"I love classical music," he says. "I listen to classical music first thing in the morning. I don't really sleep very much, so I listen to classical music much of the night. I am one of those people."

Two of the book's main characters share the author's enthusiasm, with very different approaches and story arcs.

"The initial inspiration some had to do with the musical background of my villain," he explains. "And then, as I pulled the thread and plotted and plotted and plotted, I decided to make that musical background a big, big part of the story."

It afforded him the opportunity to include some of his own favorite pieces into the writing, including Rachmaninoff's Vocalise, which he calls, "one of the most beautiful little pieces," some of Brahms' cello sonatas and pieces by Haydn. Astute readers will see some name drops for some of Silva's favorite real-life musicians and conductors as well.

"And I got to bring back a character I've always wanted to bring back," he relays. 

As he gears up for another series of virtual book tours, Silva's looking ahead. He's hopeful that next summer there will be a return to in-person events, possibly coming back to Houston, a city he's visited several times before, both for events the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center and at Murder By the Book.

He's also taking meetings about bringing his books to life on-screen. Previous deals have fallen through, but Silva says he's hopeful about the prospects this time.

So, there's much more to come for Silva, his characters, and his fans. When we spoke, he was already on page 66 of the next novel.