For 16 years, author Daniel Silva has shared the adventures of Gabriel Allon, part-time art historian and assassin as he solves crimes, fights terrorists and helps launch Silva's novels to the top of the New York Times best-seller list.
On Wednesday, July 13 in advance of the release of his latest novel, "The Black Widow," Silva is coming to the Carroll Arts Center to discuss his writing, Allon and the world we live in.
"The Black Widow" is part of Silva's Gabriel Allon adventure series. In the book, following a terrorist attack that kills his friend, Allon is recruited to find an ISIS mastermind and train a French woman to infiltrate the organization.
The novel opens with an ISIS-launched terrorist bombing against Paris. It was during the writing process that Paris was struck with a terror attack in November 2015, during which shooters killed 130 people in the French city. Silva said the similarities between the real-life attack and his novel's opening unnerved him, and caused him to put the manuscript aside for a time. Soon, though, he decided to carry on with his work.
"I wanted to finish it, and I had something I wanted to say," Silva said. "There was enough of a shiver, that I debated whether I should change the book, but I decided to carry on and pretend that Paris had not happened in the world of my book."
Because the Allon series touches upon contentious political material, Silva said readers are often trying to read his own world views into the characters he's written. He said it's unfair to try and assess writers based on the viewpoints of their characters, who often have their own discrete backstories and opinions. Despite it all, he said he's passionately interested in writing political thrillers.
"This is the territory I have chosen. No matter what I write or say someone is going to be offended," Silva said. "I worked in the Middle East. I'm fascinated by the Middle East and these issues."
Silva's career began in journalism, having worked with United Press International out of their Washington, D.C. and Cairo offices as well as years of work as producer and executive producer with CNN. He left journalism for fiction following the debut of his first novel, "The Unlikely Spy."
"There's a reason why a number of journalists, going back to Hemingway for example, have gone into fiction," Silva said. "We obviously draw on some of the same skills. That said, I always wanted to be a novelist. I went into journalism, because I wanted to be a novelist."
Following "The Unlikely Spy" and two novels featuring CIA operative Michael Osbourne, Silva introduced Allon, the character he would become best known for. Allon debuted in 2000's "The Kill Artist." Since that book's follow-up "The English Assassin" in 2002, Silva has released an Allon adventure every year, continued with this summer's "The Black Widow." Over the 16 years and 16 novels, Silva said his relationship with the character has changed.
"Definitely the greatest fallacy is that it somehow gets easier, but it actually gets harder," Silva said. "I have a lot of respect for the character and the series, and it's a lot of work to create something that lives up to expectations."
At the event Wednesday, hosted by the Carroll County Public Library, Silva will discuss the latest novel, talk about his history and research and answer questions from the audience. He said he loves having the opportunity to reach out to the public that so often buys his books.
"I'm a naturally reclusive person, so getting in front of people is not something I necessarily enjoy doing, but I have a great deal of respect and gratitude for my audience," Silva said. "For the one or two hours a night when we're meeting face-to-face, it's nice."
If you go:
What: An Evening with author Daniel Silva
Carroll County Daily Headlines
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 13
Where: Carroll Arts Center, 91 W. Main St., Westminster
Cost: $25, includes a copy of "The Black Widow"
For more information: Visit library.carr.org