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Authors: Graham A Thomas

The Dan Brown Enigma

BOOK: The Dan Brown Enigma
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To my family and friends and especially my colleague Craig Cabell for giving me the support to write this book

CONTENTS

Title Page

Dedication

Author’s Note

Introduction
by Craig Cabell

Part One: The Early Years

Chapter One: Just the Facts

Chapter Two: Who is Dan Brown?

Chapter Three: Rock Musician

Chapter Four: One Door Closes, Another Opens

Chapter Five: The Big Idea

Chapter Six: Mrs Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Husband

Chapter Seven: Digital Fortress

Chapter Eight: Angels and Demons

Chapter Nine: Deception Point

Part Two: The Big Time

Chapter Ten: The Last Hope

Chapter Eleven: Striking it Rich

Chapter Twelve: The Church Attacks

Chapter Thirteen: Media Frenzy at the Old Bailey

Chapter Fourteen: The Da Vinci Code

Chapter Fifteen: The Wait is Over

Chapter Sixteen: The Lost Symbol

Chapter Seventeen: Smoke and Mirrors

Appendix One: The Characters

Appendix Two: The Films

Dan Brown US/UK Bibliography by Craig Cabell

Endnotes

Index

Plates

Acknowledgements

Copyright

AUTHOR'S NOTE

T
hrillers are part of the modern psyche. The genre is a relatively new one dating back to 1915 with the publication of John Buchan's
The Thirty-Nine Steps.
The story has all the essential elements of a modern thriller: an ordinary man thrown into an extraordinary situation full of tension, danger and intrigue. The hero overcomes physical danger, fear and many other obstacles in his path as he races to complete his quest and unravel the mystery that surrounds him.

Dan Brown's books have these same elements, which is what drew me into his stories. My thriller hero has always been Alistair MacLean, who wrote such masterpieces as
Night Without End, Fear is the Key
and
When Eight Bells Toll.
When I first came to Brown I didn't want to read him, but his blend of fact and fiction in a modern style at rocket pace caught my attention.

What intrigued me was his ability to blur the boundaries so well that the reader ends up believing everything on the page. It is how he takes myths that are buried deep in our collective subconscious and explodes it onto his pages that I find so interesting.

Everyone was going crazy about
The Da Vinci Code
so I steadfastly refused to pick up the book. But one day I did and never looked back. The more I started researching this book, the more involved I became in Brown and his characters, plots and ideas.

Whether the information Brown uses in his books is correct or not is not as important as the man's story. The facts he uses can be debated time and time again and they have been. There are dozens of books claiming to decode the mysteries in Brown's books. Are these mysteries and strange facts true? Who knows? But that's not the point. Brown is a master storyteller who has managed to tap into our collective psyche, draw us in and blend it all together with staggering effect.

I wanted to write this book to get to grips with the effect that his books have had on organisations like the Catholic Church and the Freemasons. That effect has been profound. The Church has gone to great lengths to refute everything that Brown claimed was a fact in
The Da Vinci Code
. Why did they do this?

It is the writer's choice to wind fact into his fiction and in some cases to dress up fiction as fact to push the story forwards. If Brown hadn't put a Fact page at the very beginning of
The Da Vinci Code,
it's likely there would have been no outcry, no debate, as there has been since its publication.

The Dan Brown Enigma
tries to unlock Brown's methods of creating his mysteries, how he builds intricate puzzles while weaving in ancient texts, myths and legends into the stories. In a way he reminds me of Number Six from the cult Sixties TV series
The Prisoner
. We never really know who he is but we are hooked by his quest to escape the village and above all to find out who is really behind it.

Brown's quest to find information and research that forms the basis of his novels is just as addictive. How does he do it? Why does he do it? Who is he?

Read on and enjoy the ride.

‘We want information.'

‘You won't get it.'

‘By hook or by crook, we will.'

Graham A. Thomas
Warminster, March 2011

INTRODUCTION
WORKS OF FICTION

I
t was a chilly, dry morning in 2009 that I found myself at Waterstone’s the booksellers in London’s Piccadilly to attend the official UK launch of Dan Brown’s
The Lost Symbol
.

Although the great man wasn’t there, there was still a strong media presence as devoted fans queued to get their hands on one of only 150 signed, book-plated copies of the first edition UK hardback. Each special copy had a colour flaming key pictorial plate with bold black signature – gold dust to the true fan and restricted to one copy per person.

I spoke to
The Times
and did some radio sound bites, answering such questions as: why is Dan Brown so popular? What sort of person reads Dan Brown? Do you think the new novel will live up to the notoriety of
The Da Vinci Code
?

I answered the questions while the fans looked on expectantly. Some smiled; others nodded their heads in staunch seriousness. At least they agreed with me, but the thing I learned from this experience was that Brown fans took his work very seriously. They believed in the threat of a
Digital Fortress
code, they believed in the Holy Blood line, they believed in ancient societies enduring from the Dark Ages to the present day.

Did I?

There is a difference between what one wishes for and what one suspects is true. And that’s where – for me and many Brown fans – Dan Brown exists. He is a storyteller of great power and works on the minds of enquiring people with his fervent imagination. When all is said and done, Dan Brown writes stories. There may be some hard facts there but there will also be some supposition, so one doesn’t really know what is the fact and what is the fiction. The resulting ‘faction’ is not a new concept. The creator of such work in modern times is Frederick Forsyth, with such key books as
The Day of the Jackal
and
The Fourth Protocol
.

When I left Piccadilly – still before most commuters’ breakfasts – I glanced at the queue of people eager to purchase their special copy of Dan Brown’s latest novel. For them, the latest book didn’t have to be
The Da Vinci Code
. It did, however, have to have Robert Langdon in it, and that’s where Dan Brown will endure: through his most popular character. He had waited long enough for the hype of
The Da Vinci Code
to calm down before releasing the next Langdon book. The book wouldn’t be as controversial, but then Brown didn’t set out to make
The Da Vinci Code
controversial in the first place. The media did that. He simply told his intricate chase novel and thrilled his audience.

With
The Lost Symbol
it was the Freemasons who were now under scrutiny, not the Catholic Church; but unlike the Catholic Church, the Masons didn’t respond negatively to the book, so there was no media circus and over-analysis of the text.

In short, Brown had created a new type of faction, which initially shocked certain people but as Tony Robinson found with his excellent programmes about
The Da Vinci Code
and
The Lost Symbol
, there’s little to get uptight about – just enjoy the story!

This book continues to break down the mystery surrounding Dan Brown and his works. It outlines the writer’s life and works and becomes an essential companion to the half-dozen books by the American author. It has not been released during the hype of
The Da Vinci Code
nor on the back of the
The Lost Symbol
. It sits in a space where we can soberly analyse the life and work of one of the world’s most successful writers, and I for one applaud its companionship.

Craig Cabell

London, March 2010

PART ONE
THE EARLY YEARS
CHAPTER ONE
JUST THE FACTS

F
ailure was not an option. For the longest time he stared at the blank screen in front of him; around him lay the books and papers he was using for his research. He and his wife had been through them all. Now was the moment of truth: the time to start writing.

He’d written three books so far, all well received but flops at the booksellers. Yet in his heart and his soul he knew they were good. This was what he was meant to do, wasn’t it? He’d even had his eureka moment which had showed him writing was his true calling. But they hadn’t sold. His music career in L.A. hadn’t worked out either, so now his fourth novel just had to work. The pressure was on. If this book didn’t sell then he’d be back teaching again. He knew he couldn’t face that.

He felt the pressure keenly and he felt the failure deeply as well. It was now or never. He and his wife had travelled to Europe twice and investigated the Louvre museum in Paris as thoroughly as they could. He’d read countless books on religion and the Sacred Feminine. He stared at the keys knowing that they would not move by themselves. He looked at the headset that he used for dictating and which freed him to move around his little cottage. Now was not the time for that technology. Now he had to start typing.

The cursor blinked. He touched a key on the keyboard and the letter appeared on the screen. What was his big idea for this book? Though it wasn’t yet completely clear he knew it would come to him. This one just had to work.

And indeed it did. The book in question was
The Da Vinci Code
and the man behind it was Daniel Gerhard Brown – Dan Brown.

Brown has said he is a very private person, so to know the man we need to look at how he writes, because there must be something special about a man who has probably sold more books than any other writer.

How does he do it? Is it the fact that he hangs upside down in his anti-gravity boots two or three times a day? ‘You’re hanging upside down and you’re seeing the world through a different lens and I think you think differently,’ Brown said. ‘I may be crazy but I’ve solved a bunch of good problems upside down.’

To spend as much time as Brown does on researching his books –
The Lost Symbol
took six years – he must have an abiding passion in what he is researching. ‘If you are researching secret societies, abstruse science or all things ancient, it could take a lot of extra time,’ Brown remarked. ‘All things arcane interest me.’

But before we delve deeper let’s look at some basic facts about the man. He was born on 22 June 1964, in Exeter, New Hampshire in the United States. He is the eldest of three children and his father, Richard G. Brown, taught mathematics until he retired in 1982. Both his mother and father are musicians and singers, having served as church choirmasters and his mother as a church organist in the Episcopalian faith in which he grew up.

BOOK: The Dan Brown Enigma
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