Dan Brown is an author that receives a lot of criticism, criticism I rarely agree with. His books have always been easy, fast-paced reads for me. One of my "popcorn movie" books. So when I saw his AMA (ask me anything) on reddit I was eager to dive in and see what type of questions would be thrown at the author. Here are what I thought were the five most interesting questions and answers from his AMA:
Q: Your work receives a lot of criticism from the world of literary "experts," and yet is incredibly well-received in the marketplace. Ignoring both your critics and your financial success, what has been the most rewarding aspect of your career as a writer?
DB: People for whom creativity is a profession have little choice but to take their critics lightly. The alternative is to care deeply what people think… and, in doing so, lose all spontaneity and creativity. As crazy as this may sound, I would much prefer to write a book that sparks passionate reaction (even a negative one) than to write a book that evokes apathy or indifference. Yes, I wish everyone loved the books I write, but that’s not how it works for me… or any author, for that matter. When you’re a creative person—whether a writer, a painter, or a composer—all you have to guide the process is your own taste. You create the novel/painting/symphony that you yourself like, and then you pray like hell that someone shares your taste. Those who do are fans…and those who don’t are your critics. As for the aspect of success that is most rewarding to me…it is the luxury of engaging in the creative process every day as a job. I learned long ago that if I’m not actively creating something, I’m not happy.
Q: What is the very first idea that popped into your head about the Da Vinci Code, and did it make it into the final book? - Also: What other conspiracy theories have you considered writing a book about, or incorporating into a book, but ultimately had to abandon (for whatever reason)?
DB: The first idea for The Da Vinci Code stemmed from an image of a dying man leaving a coded message in the Louvre. As for future conspiracy theories, I've toyed with writing about ancient aliens but cannot do it quite simply because I don't buy it. Sorry. If anyone out there can convince me, please do. It would be a fun topic, but so much misinformation.
Q: You've said: “I don’t put in anything that’s gratuitous . . . I think video games are very dangerous . . . The quantity of hours that people play these first person shooter games. It becomes a reality of some sort, and that’s a part of it.”
Since there is no conclusive evidence on a causal link between violent video games and actual violence in real life, I am interested in the argument that you have for believing that such correlation exists.
DB: In the last decade, there has been a massive upsurge in violence by young people. My personal sense (which I suspect is at odds with most people’s here) is that this increase in violence in the real world is directly related to the increase in time that kids spend being violent in a virtual world. I’d be happy to learn I’m wrong, but so far, I’ve heard no argument that convinces me otherwise.
Q: How much research do you put into the books before you even start writing? Also, do you consult historians to make sure your facts are correct?
DB: Normally, I do at least a year of research before I begin writing. The history/science/locales that I explore in my research then become the primary building blocks of the plot. As for fact-checking, yes, there’s an entire team of people who go through the novels to doublecheck the foreign languages, science, history, etc…and even then, errors slip through. One of the perils of writing fact-laden books.
Q: Could you paraphrase Inferno for me please? I have to read it as an assignment for school and there's only a couple of days left until the deadline. Please send help. Note that I've absolutely cherished those first five pages!
DB: Langdon wakes up confused. Code, chase, a brilliant woman, more chase, more codes, a secret, another secret, an exotic secret location with secrets, and then some genetic engineering. The End.
Check out the rest of the AMA on reddit.