News Column

Dan Brown Talks About His Fans, His Critics 'The Guy He Wishes He Could Be'

June 2, 2014

By Maryellen Fillo, The Hartford Courant

June 02--Since "Angels and Demons" dropped in 2000, and "The DaVinci Code" in 2003, best-selling author Dan Brown has taken his readers on all over the world scavenger hunts full of thought provoking intrigue, symbology, history and dilemma. On June 7, Brown comes to The Bushnell for a fundraiser for The Mark Twain House & Museum.

Brown, who lives in New Hampshire, will engage in conversation with WNPR radio personality John Dankosky at the program that also includes a VIP pre-program meet and greet with the famed author. But before he visits Connecticut, Brown, whose novels have been published in 52 languages, was just sitting in a hospital parking lot nursing a bad knee (he'll explain that later) when he made time to Spill the Beans with Java.

Q: You did it again when it comes to making a reader pick up one of your books and not being able to put it down. I started reading "Inferno" at 6 p.m. last night, read until 11:30 p.m., woke up at 4 a.m. and started reading again until I had to get ready for work. What do you think draws us to your books and the adventurous and inquisitive Mr. Langdon?

A: I'd say the books attract smart readers who like to learn. The books take place in the real world in real settings. Readers learn about art, divine comedy, the world and more. It's escapist fun that actually simultaneously informs.

Q: Do you write as a way to get the story idea out of your head or do your write with commercial success in mind?

A: I write the book I would want to read and hope that people share my taste. Whether you are an artist or a writer or a chef or a musician, all you have to guide you is your own taste when you do something. You create something you like and hope other people like what you like. Some will and some won't.

Q: You have a hot and cold relationship with critics when it comes to your books, but "Inferno" was one the New York Times and others liked, with most staying you were "back in stride" again. What do you say to the critics?

A: So you liked us and that's terrific. Does it matter? You wish everyone loved what you do but the reality is I think anybody who has had any creative success has learned to accept that not everyone will love what you do. The most important thing for me is when I finish a book is that I am proud of it and like it and that my fans will like it. Fans are more important than critics.

Q: I know your parents had strong connections to church and you were brought up as an Episcopalian and all that goes with it. Where did the idea of tethering all your stories to faith begin?

A: I write these books to explore questions I have. I think my fans have fun watching me struggling with a big idea. I write to learn something. In "Inferno" the population explosion and future of the world and the relationship to faith, the idea that everything is going to be Ok, and whether there is a moral obligation to use new technologies are the questions. I hand those questions to a bunch of fictional characters and let them debate.

Q: Are you Robert Langdon?

A: He is cooler and braver than me and has a much more exciting life. I think he is the guy I wish I could be.

Q: If some genie gave you one wish, that you can have half a dozen people or so for dinner at your home. who would you invite?

A: Gary Zukav, Michio Kaku, George Orwell, the Dalai Lama, and Shakespeare, so I could figure out who really was. And you, so you could report on it.

Q: Are you working on a new book yet?

A: I am in the research stage and there are definitely no hints for you.

Q: I know a movie based on your "The Lost Symbol" is currently being filmed. Does "Inferno" have the same potential on the big screen?

A: Actually "Inferno" will be made into a movie first and the script is terrific. It will come out in 2015 and Mr. Hanks will be back as Mr. Langdon. He is terrific.

Q: If you were going to write Dan Brown into a story, what kind of character would he be?

A: He would have to be a gatekeeper of some sort, someone who has access to information and doles it out carefully.

Q: You turn the big 50 on June 22. What is fact and what is fallacy when it comes to reaching the half decade mark for you? And how will you celebrate, or will you?

A: I feel better now than I ever have, both physically and mentally. If you want to live a long life the only way to do it is to get old, and embrace it and the intellectual growth that comes with it. That said, I am in a parking lot at a hospital because I just had knee surgery yesterday and have to start physical therapy. Maybe that is part of being 50 years old. As far as celebrating, I am going to pretend I don't know about the big surprise party my wife is planning.

Q: You are coming here guest of Mark Twain House 7 Museum. Is Mr. Twain and his writings a bit tame for you? What's your favorite Twain book?

A: We are quite different but I have massive respect for Mark Twain, his accomplishments and the humor of what he does. I think we can always learn from others. As far as a favorite book, a fan never chooses a favorite.

Q: You are sent to a desert island. What three books do you take?

A: The Bible, the Quran and one book that is entirely blank and a pencil.

Q: You are also an accomplished musician. What is on your iPod?

A: Everything. I am listening to Franco De Vita, a Spanish singer. I love Loreena McKennitt. I listen to a lot of classical and choral music. My brother Gregory is a composer. It's kind of funny. He has composed a piece based on the Catholic liturgy that is based on the writings of Charles Darwin. It's an amazing piece of music that sounds like church music but if you listen closely, it's about evolution.

Q: I know it's been a while since teaching English was your main profession but what do you think is right and wrong with education in America today?

A: Think the problems are systemic and it boils down to enthusiasm. The teachers of every subject need to convey enthusiasm and passion because that is contagious. You can't teach literature effectively if you can't persuade your students to be excited about it and want to learn about it on their own. If there is a problem in education, it is our failure to convey passion and enthusiasm.

Q: Will Robert Langdon ever settle down and exactly how many more years can he be running around the world?

A: I don't know the answer to that. I have at least a dozen ideas lined up and won't have time to write them all. Fans do ask why Langdon never gets the girl but what happens in his relationships, it's off the page. My feeling is your imagination is going to be better than anything.

Q: What is something practically no one knows about you?

A: I tore my meniscus. That is private information. I don't know how I did it. I got up one day and it hurt. I had walked nine miles on three days in a row. And my knee was just sore.

DAN BROWN: Tickets range in price from $25 to $75. There are a limited number of $250 VIP tickets available that include a pre-event reception with a chance to meet and chat with the author; premium VIP orchestra seating locations at The Bushnell event; and a pre-signed copy of "Inferno." Call 860-987-5900.


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