In late 2003, Dan Brown got on the phone with EW to discuss The Da Vinci Code, his mega-selling breakout novel that reads like a bullet and features a symbology-prof hero named Robert Langdon. (It had, back then, only recently been announced that Ron Howard would be adapting the book for the movies; Tom Hanks had not yet been cast as Langdon.) Prior to the interview, Brown’s publisher, Doubleday, announced that it would be his last for a while — the author was going into a self-imposed ”hibernation” to research and write his Da Vinci Code follow-up. That follow-up has not yet arrived, but in the last two-plus years, The Da Vinci Code has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide. Meanwhile, until he was dragged into a London court this month to testify in a copyright-infringement case, Brown stayed in hibernation, and he still hasn’t spoken out publicly at any length since this EW interview.
Here, for the first time, is the Q&A from that 30-minute conversation, in which a very jovial Brown discusses his favorite movies, his future plans for Robert Langdon, what it’s like to sit next to a stranger on a plane who’s reading your book, and how his life resembles Indiana Jones’s.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I heard you’re going into hibernation.
DAN BROWN: This is the last interview. I’ve gotta go write a book!
How long you gonna be gone? And where are you going?
I imagine I’ll be in hibernation at least a year. I’ve done all the research for the next book, and now I just need to write it. Where I’m going, if I say that, it defeats the purpose of hibernation! [Laughs] I will come out only to play a couple of hours of tennis every day, to stay in shape and stay sane.
You going abroad?
I will be doing a lot of research abroad, and also some here.
So what’s the new book about?
The book, like Da Vinci Code, will be very complicated. Parts of it are set in Washington.
And Robert Langdon comes back?
Absolutely. And I can tell you that this deals with another secret society — the oldest brotherhood still in existence on earth today.
Where do you come up with your plots?
The Da Vinci Code was inspired by an art history lecture I heard 15 years ago in Spain, and this new book is really a fusion of a lot of… I guess you would say secrets I’ve learned in the process of writing these other books.
How hard is it to generate ideas?
I’m amazed how easy a lot of this information is to find if you know where to look. There are a lot of people who firmly believe all of these theories that are put forth in the book. And that is their reality, and you have to track them down and let them convince you. And with Da Vinci Code, I’ve said it before, I really began writing this book as a skeptic. I expected to disprove a lot of what’s in the book, and the more research I did, the more I began to believe it and realized, Wow, this makes an awful lot of sense.
Do you have a lot of ideas for future books?
There is no shortage of secrets and adventures for Robert Langdon to take. I have ideas for about 12 books. I know I won’t have time in my life to write them all. For a symbology professor, someone who understands iconography, ancient mysteries, there is no shortage of material for this character.
Next page: Brown on his research methods