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Real or make believe — The Illuminati, angels and demons

Da Vinci Code’s author discusses the paradox between science and religion

D. Kevin McNeir | 11/21/2013, 9 a.m.
The Miami Book Fair International kicked off its 30th anniversary last weekend with bestselling author Dan Brown as its keynote ...
Bestselling author, Dan Brown

The Miami Book Fair International kicked off its 30th anniversary last weekend with bestselling author Dan Brown as its keynote speaker. Brown, 49, who doesn’t make a lot of public speaking appearances, was clearly in his element last Sunday, talking about how he became a writer and his fascination with science and religion — something which he has loved since his childhood. For those few who are unfamiliar with Brown, he is the brainchild and writer of books that include The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons and his current release, Inferno. At 200 million books sold, he is one of the highest-selling authors of all time. And the recurring themes in his novels, which include several Christian motifs like angels and demons, cryptography, symbols, codes and conspiracy theories like the Illuminati [a secret society that supposedly has covert plans to take over the world for a One World Order], have generated plenty of conversation, debate and introspection.

“I think the human mind has a physical need to believe that there is something or someone that is in control of our world,” he said. “It’s comforting to think that someone is driving the bus or pulling the strings as most of us are uncomfortable with randomness. We are more at ease when we see tragedy as a result of another outside force or because of a conspiracy theory.”

Such ideas are what fuel Brown’s books and the films that have been adapted from his bestsellers, most notably the Robert Langdon series and its namesake character who came to the rescue in his breakthrough work, The Da Vinci Code. Incidentally, and for those who like Jeopardy-like trivia, the Langdon series is currently the seventh-highest selling series of all time.

Author still writes for the ‘fun of it’

While Brown is now quite a wealthy man and a writer that can take on projects as he desires, he says he never imagined that his work would generate the kind of income or response that it has.

“Like most writers, early in my career I wrote because I enjoyed the creative process,” he said. “I had written three other books before The Da Vinci Code — the others enjoyed limited success. What was great however, is that readers wanted to go back to see what else I had done. Writing is the kind of skill that requires perseverance. I still maintain the same schedule. I write seven days a week and begin writing every morning around 4 a.m. Often I’m still at it at noon which is a long day for a writer. That doesn’t mean that I’m satisfied with everything I write. In fact, I edit myself very carefully and am probably my worst critic. The key to being a good writer is being willing to rewrite until you get it just right.”

Brown’s newest release, Inferno, is the fourth novel in the Langdon series. He describes it as “a high stakes mystery with a high-tech element to it. Professor Langdon is back and this time it is his ability to solve the latest mystery that could mean saving the world from destruction.”

He says that while he writes fiction, he prefers reading non-fiction.

“I write fiction because it is a way to express ideas in a more approachable way,” he said. “But I am almost exclusively a non-fiction reader — especially biographies. I think the best compliment I could have received about my writing came from one of my fans who said, ‘when I read books by Dan Brown it’s like getting my vegetables but it tastes like I’m eating ice cream.’”