Daniel Silva Would Like You to Be Quiet

From a New York Times Inside the Best Seller List story by Elizabeth Egan headlined “Daniel Silva Would Like You to Be Quiet”:

The former journalist, author of 25 spy thrillers and a stalwart on the best-seller list, opens up about his writerly quirks.

Daniel Silva begins a phone interview with an apology for taking a few hours to respond to a request for a phone interview.

“I was getting to work on my new manuscript and, per my usual work habits, I switched off my internet and stuck my phone in another room,” explained Silva, who is the author of 25 spy novels, including “Portrait of an Unknown Woman,” now in its third week on the hardcover fiction list after debuting at No. 1.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Silva has completed three books. (The other two are “The Cellist” and “The Order.”) He will let a new idea percolate over the summer, then enter a seven-month writing cycle that sounds both grueling and so simple, you wonder why you haven’t attempted it at home. “I scratch and peck and find my way into a book, and I consider Labor Day the starting gun,” Silva said. “I hand it in on April 1.” Generally, he wraps up final edits by early June, calling in changes to his publisher until the last possible moment. (“I’m always up against the clock.”) In the peak of the process, he’ll work for 12 hours at a time.

Silva, a former journalist, admits to one creative quirk: He requires absolute silence while cooking up new capers for Gabriel Allon, his art-restoring, intelligence-gathering, newly retired protagonist. “A leaf blower could destroy my day,” said Silva, who works from home offices in Georgetown and Palm Beach County, Fla. (The former has a view of a small garden; the latter overlooks the Intracoastal Waterway.) “You can hear the lawn mower on the sports field adjacent to our house. It’s the bane of my existence.”

Sounds of walking, construction and “general banging” are also pet peeves. As for the most distracting noise, Silva admitted, “My least favorite is also my favorite. My wife is a reporter for CNN. When she is on the phone, she is really loud. I love listening to her do her work but it interferes with mine, so there’s a lot of ‘shush’ and ‘can you please go to another room.’” Silva and Jamie Gangel have been married since 1987; he added, “The sound of my typing annoys her. It’s a two-way street.”

Lest you think Silva is an ogre (his word), his writing routine includes one mutually beneficial, household-friendly quirk. “When I take a break, my favorite thing is to do the laundry,” he said. “My wife comes home to a lovely folded pile of her clothes every single day. The laundry bins are empty in our house.”

Elisabeth Egan is an editor at the Book Review and the author of “A Window Opens.”

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