PW: The Confessor obviously draws on the research of Holocaust historians like Susan Zucotti and Daniel Goldhagen. To what extent would you say your works are influenced by WWII?
Dan Silva: I think the aftermath of WWII is something we are still dealing with, particularly in Europe, in lands that felt the impact of the Holocaust, and governments that had to come to an understanding with Hitler (such as Switzerland and the Vatican city-state). For me, there's a tremendous wellspring of material there that I find fascinating.
PW:The Confessor portrays a generation gap between old- and new-school factions within the Mossad. Is this based on actual developments?
DS: It's largely imagined, but partly inspired by the idea that there are a lot of people in various communities who want to let the past lie, and others who don't. Ari Shamron is someone who felt the Holocaust in a very personal way, like many Israelis of his generation. Gabriel Allon, our hero, felt it in a different way; he is the son of survivors, and bears a special burden in that respect.
PW: Gabriel continues to embody the parable of the "restorer," the spy who makes things right through his work, although in actuality he is much more destructive than constructive. How do you explain this duality?
DS: He definitely has two sides to his personality. He's a reluctant destroyer, yet his most basic instinct is that of a restorer. What I like about him is that he's quietly addressing the sins of the past, punishing the guilty and setting things right. He's uniquely suited to doing that. Also, there's a not-so-subtle metaphor involved, in that Gabriel is living and working in Venice restoring churches when he sets out on this mission.
PW: What makes the Mossad different from other intelligence services?
DS: They live and work in a very dangerous neighborhood. They operate in a thin margin of security. They are extraordinary risk-takers. But, they comprise a service founded by Jews after the Holocaust, and they see themselves as guardians of the Jewish people. I think that's their ultimate goal, and I don't think you can say that about any other intelligence service on the planet. I think that's what makes them different.
PW: This is your second novel with Putnam. How has that experience been?
DS: I can't say enough about Putnam editorially. I am blessed to work with the finest thriller and commercial fiction editor in the business [Neil Nyren]. I feel my work fits in well with Putnam's list. They have many other authors who've been much more successful than I have, and it hasn't been a problem. I've found my niche there and couldn't be happier.
PW: The Catholic Church has gotten a lot of bad press since your last book. Do you think The Confessor will add to it?
DS: It's not the reason why I wrote the book. I'm someone who was into the Pius/Holocaust debate, and have devoured all the major works on the subject, and incorporated them into this book. But I was also attracted to it from a pure mystery standpoint: What's in its archives that the Church doesn't want the world to see? I didn't write the book to pile onto the Church in any way, but having said that, watching the way it dealt with the situation in this country was very instructive; how they deal with scandal, and the lengths they'll go to keep a secret.