August 28, 2015

Do I Write Like a Master Spy?

By Marilyn Baron

One of my favorite authors is Daniel Silva, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The English Spy, his 18th novel and the 15th book of his Gabriel Allon series. Apparently, I’m not the only Gabriel Allon fan. The Philadelphia Inquirer calls his continuing character, Gabriel Allon, “one of the most intriguing heroes of any thriller series.” 

I recently went to an author talk and book signing for The English Spy, and met Silva for the second time. Silva says he came up with his character when he was walking down the street in Georgetown with his wife, journalist Jamie Gangel, and she said, “We’re going to have dinner with David Bull, one of the world’s finest art restorers.” He asked Bull how he could turn an Israeli assassin into an Italian art restorer. Later, Silva went to Bull’s lab. Fascinated by the restoration work going on there, the more he learned about the craft of restoration, the more he realized he could apply that to the craft of assassination. He used that knowledge to structure Gabriel’s first novel and a character was born.

I was surprised to learn that Gabriel was supposed to appear in one book only, as a second-tier character, but it didn’t work out that way. “He took over that novel and the story became his,” says Silva, adding, “He talked me into writing the second book.” It turned out that in researching the professional provenance of that character, he saw another side to Gabriel. The concept of restoration—of situation, of historical wrongs and of people—plays a major role in all of Silva’s plots.

As an author, I was curious about Silva’s writing process. Like me, Silva tries to go to all the places he writes about to bring his settings to life. He credits proper technique and his character’s unique point of view with helping him convey emotion and setting. Silva is a creature of habit. Unlike me, he writes every day, seven days a week and finds days off and holidays “personally traumatic,” when he’s on a tight deadline. He turns the temperature down, writes in the same clothes every day—grey sweatpants, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a fleece jacket. He writes in pencil on yellow legal pads and then types the novel into the computer. In general, Silva doesn’t outline his books (and neither do I). He knows enough to get started and then he “brings the book to life.” His first draft is his outline. Sometimes he knows the plot twists and turns in advance. Sometimes he doesn’t.

When I asked him to reveal the most important advice he could give an author, he said, “When you’re working on your first manuscript, you have no expectations, so enjoy the writing experience.” The first time I met him, his advice was, “Finish the book.” I took that advice to heart. In 2015, I’ve released four books and a short story, including my latest book, Landlocked, from The Wild Rose Press.     

Marilyn Baron is a corporate communications consultant in Atlanta. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America and Georgia Romance Writers (GRW), recipient of the GRW 2009 Chapter Service Award and winner or finalist in writing awards in single title, suspense romance, novel with strong romantic elements and paranormal romance. Marilyn writes in a variety of genres, including: Humorous coming-of-middle age women’s fiction (The Widows’ Gallery, Stones, Significant Others); a psychic suspense series (Sixth Sense, Homecoming Homicides and Killer Cruise); romantic suspense (her latest novel, Landlocked, is her 10th published by The Wild Rose Press); historical romantic thrillers (Under the Moon Gate and the prequel, Destiny: A Bermuda Love Story); and fantasy (Someday My Prints Will Come) for The Wild  Rose Press; and humorous paranormal short stories for TWB Press (A Choir of Angels, Follow an Angel, The Stand-In Bridegroom, Dead Mix and her latest, The Files Death Forgot). She also wrote two books with her sister Sharon (The Edger, Murder at the Outlet Mall) and a new musical about Alzheimer’s called Memory Lane. Marilyn is a member of the 2016 Roswell Reads Steering Committee and belongs to two book clubs. A native of Miami, Florida, Marilyn now lives in Roswell, Georgia, with her husband and they have two daughters and a new son-in-law. She graduated from The University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism [Public Relations sequence] and a minor in Creative Writing. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, going to movies, eating Italian food, and traveling. She often sets her stories in places she’s visited, including Bermuda, Australia and Italy, where she spent six months studying Italian and Art History in Florence during her senior year in college. Visit her Website to find out more about Marilyn’s books and stories at Her latest release, Landlocked, is a romantic suspense. Facebook: Blog:  Marilyn blogs with Savvy Authors on the 22nd of every month at Twitter: Goodreads:

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