Brown hopes Tomhanks
three books before Da Vinci were flops, and it’s given him some perspective. “I worked hard on – and felt very passionately about – three books that nobody read.”
That wasn’t the only career low point he’s had. Born in New Hampshire, the son of a maths teacher and organist, after leaving college and a short spell teaching, Brown, a gifted pianist, moved to Los Angeles in 2001 to try to become a singer/songwriter.
“I got a record deal, I sold 12 records – 10 of them were to my mum. The road signs of life were saying, ‘Maybe you ought to do something else’.”
While struggling with the music career, he met music executive Blythe Newton, 12 years his senior, who was to become his wife.
“At some point, living in Hollywood and struggling in the music industry I realised I didn’t like performing, I liked being alone and I liked the creative process, but not the performance aspect of it. I realised that writing novels was a better fit.”
But writing wasn’t an easier option. “I had two teaching jobs simultaneously with writing my first three books. I’d get up at 4am and I’d write until 8am and then I’d go and teach. Then I’d ride my bike 15km and teach some more.
“But all I wanted to do was pay my rent and be creative. So because I had that as a goal, when The Da Vinci Code took off it was magical, wonderful, exciting and a little scary, like a dream.”
Losing some of his privacy has been a small price to pay for being a globally successful novelist, he reflects. “We would have people
(second from right) will reprise his role as Robert Langdon in the film adaptation of Inferno Brown’s currently working with Sony Pictures on the film adaptation of Inferno and he hopes TomHanks will star as his hero. “I’m involved in the adaptation process but I’m a novelist, I don’t know how to make movies. I’m not the kind of person who tells Ron Howard [director of The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons] how to make a movie.”
How have the 10 years since Da Vinci been? “The decade has been surreal,” Brown reflects, “but the writing process has not changed. I still get up at four in the morning. Writing is hard work. I take it very seriously. For every one page you read in Inferno, I’ve thrown out 10.”
He could easily afford to give it all up, but there are many more Langdon books in his head.
So is Langdon really Brown? “Langdon is much more interesting and intelligent than I am,” he answers, smiling. parked outside the house with cameras. We would get hundreds of letters a day. You have to suddenly have security and change your phone number every week.
“And yet, I’m very careful not to complain too loudly because I have had experience of writing a book – three books, actually – and, not only is there nobody outside your door with a camera, there’s nobody at the publishing company who knows they’ve published your book.
“So I’m very grateful about what’s happened to me and my wife and I just focus on what’s so wonderful about it.
“The good thing about being a writer is that your book is the celebrity.”
What’s next for Langdon?