Needing (and Hating) Technology

WORD CRAFT, The Wall Street Journal  |  July 13, 2012
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The research for my new novel, “The Fallen Angel,” a Vatican-based thriller, took me from the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica to the Etruscan tombs outside of Rome, to the ancient tunnels and aqueducts beneath the Old City of Jerusalem. Along the way, I walked a few paces behind Pope Benedict XVI, candle in hand, on the Feast of Corpus Christi, and chased wild jackals across the Golan Heights.

In the end, neither scene made it into the novel. But I’m certain that somewhere within the story and its characters are tiny brush strokes, invisible to the reader, that were inspired by these two unforgettable experiences.

There are easier methods of acquiring the information I need to write my novels. I could have skipped the transatlantic flights and apathetic hotel service and visited the Vatican and Jerusalem via the Internet with a few keystrokes and a click of a mouse.

More and more, however, I find myself trying to keep technology at bay, not only in my daily life but in my stories as well. This can be a challenge, because my hero, the occasional Israeli spy and master art restorer Gabriel Allon, works for an intelligence service known for its technical prowess. But whenever possible, I focus on the human being using the technology rather than on the technology itself.

NWS was honored to welcome Silva at the launch of his national book tour. He took the stage with Doug Stanton to discuss his enormously popular novels, including the latest installment in the Gabriel Allon series, “Portrait of a Spy.”