More than 1,000 excited readers arrived at the Denver Marriott Tech Center on Nov. 15 for “An Evening with Dan Brown,” jointly presented by Douglas County Libraries and Tattered Cover Book Store. Despite publication of millions of his books in multiple languages (more than 52 million), the mild-mannered Brown reminds one of his globe-trotting college-professor/protagonist, Robert Langdon — bright, articulate, humorous — and certainly confident, but not ostentatious at all ... This is a guy one would love to chat with over coffee or a beer.
Many of those present bought not only a ticket, but a shiny blue copy of the new book, which will require some late nights of reading as Langdon travels in and out of trouble — mostly in Spain this trip. (He commented that the cover design is inspired by his experience looking down from the top of a steep spiral staircase at the Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona — Antonio Gaudi’s ongoing masterpiece.)
Brown is touring to introduce his latest thriller, published in October — “Origin” — and his publicists have provided a preliminary short background film that allowed this highly imaginative author to quickly get to the story at hand when he bounds to the platform. Like previous books, it deals with his ongoing interest in the juxtaposition of science and religion in our world today: “Will God survive science? Where did we come from? Where are we going?”
Research for “Origin” began with a visit to the famous Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, designed by Frank Gehry — Brown wished to be brought somewhat up to speed on modern art, which was not familiar territory.
And that’s where “Origin” begins its convoluted tale. “It was fun to throw Langdon into that scene,” he said with a grin.
Brown is the son of a math teacher and a devout church organist and was educated at Phillips Exeter Academy, Amherst College and the University of Seville. He said he published his first book at age 5, dictated to his father and “tied together with red string: `Giraffe, Pig and Pants on Fire.’”
He recalled asking a priest which creation story is true and being told, “Nice boys don’t ask!” He graduated from Amherst College and taught at his alma mater until he could devote his attention to writing. He gets up at 4 a.m., faced with an empty page and produces yet another exciting chapter.
But, when asked “What’s next?” he gently reminded the questioner that “Origin” has just been out three weeks. “You’re a mother, aren’t you? What if someone talked about the next baby three weeks after you’d given birth?” Asia, Africa and Latin America would all like to be settings for a Langdon visit — Brown said he’d spent time in India, but wasn’t yet familiar enough “because it’s not in my tradition. Would you be interested in setting big questions in the developing world?”
Several questions about his personal beliefs were parried. He sees “The Divine in interactions of people — I sense in moments like this love between you and me …” With a strong mother and a strong wife, he would never write about a “woman tied to the railroad tracks,” he added.
One participant probably spoke for all present: “Thank you for making us think!” she said.
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