Daniel Silva’s THE DEFECTOR Book Signing

Daniel Silva at The Defector book signing

Daniel Silva’s twelfth book, The Defector, is currently number one on the New York Time’s bestseller list and the author was at Borders Books & Music in Birmingham, Michigan on August 3rd to speak to a packed crowd. The Defector is the ninth book to feature popular character Gabriel Allon, a retired Israeli spy who works as an art restorer. Silva spoke at length about his travels and foreign affairs with the practiced air of a college professor. He also announced his recent appointment to the council of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Silva described The Defector as a love story and said that his inspiration came from his good friend Henry Winkler (Fonzie on Happy Days). Winkler suggested that Gabriel Allon is too cool and detached and he wanted to see him show some emotion. Silva complied with his friend’s request and many critics think it may be his best book yet.

He was also inspired to write this book by the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, the Russian defector who was poisoned with radioactive material in London. This and other recent events have Silva very concerned about what is happening in Russia. He feels strongly that Vladimir Putin is rolling back democracy and is “engaged in a very systematic effort to whitewash and airbrush away the worst aspects of Russia’s communist past and to play up its successes. It is quite literally, and I mean quite literally, right now rewriting Russia’s history books.” Silva is concerned that history could repeat itself and already sees it starting to happen with recent murders of Russian journalists who had been critical of the current regime.

World politics and terrorism play a large role in Silva’s books and it is a subject he seemed very knowledgeable about. The Defector takes place in various locations around the world, including London, Paris, Lake Como, and Russia. Silva has spent time in each location, including Moscow; although now he doesn’t think he will be allowed back into Russia. It’s his understanding that the Russians were not too happy about his book Moscow Rules and would not give him a visa if he applied for one. The laws there prohibit criticism of the government, so Silva is reluctant to return after writing two books that are deeply critical of the Kremlin.

If you are waiting for a Gabriel Allon movie, don’t hold your breath. Hollywood is definitely interested, but Silva isn’t selling. Producers, directors, and actors have all pitched movie ideas to Silva but there’s always a snag. One producer/director asked Silva if Gabriel Allon really had to be Jewish, to which Silva replied, “Well, he is Israeli… I think that’s one we’re not going to be able to fudge.” He does consider each offer; he just hasn’t found the right one yet. Daniel Day Lewis is who he envisions starring as Allon.

The Defector is in stores now (you can buy it on Amazon) and if you would like to hear more from Daniel Silva check out this interview on Minnesota Public Radio.

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