Dan Brown in Sharjah

The celebrated author is coming to the Sharjah International Book Fair

Interview, Hot seat, The Knowledge

The celebrated author talks secret codes and Tom Hanks, ahead of his appearance at Sharjah International Book Fair. Interview by Chanelle Tourish.

As one of the world’s bestselling authors, you must feel pressure with each new title.
Shortly after The Da Vinci Code came out I did feel some pressure. I became self-aware for a few months and suddenly thought, ‘Wow, the next word I type is going to be read by millions of people.’ Then I just realised I need to do what I’ve always done, which is to write a book that I would want to read and just hope that other people would share my taste.

Why does Tom Hanks make such a good Robert Langdon in the movies?
Well Tom Hanks is such a phenomenal actor. He’s also very intelligent and intellectually curious. He has a fantastic sense of humour, which are all things I hope Robert Langdon has as well. He’s also an actor who you like to watch thinking. He’s not an action hero, he’s more of an intellectual hero, which makes him perfect.

What is happening with the latest film version of Inferno and when will it be released?
I believe that the release date is sometime in January 2016. Right now the script is done, Tom Hanks is committed to making it and the filming schedule is due to start in March 2015 all over the world – in Florence, Venice, LA and Istanbul.

So why is The Lost Symbol being skipped as a movie?
I don’t believe it’s being skipped. It’s a very difficult book to adapt and I think [the filmmakers] felt Inferno had such global appeal. So my guess is that when I’ve finished the book I am working on, they might make that and The Lost Symbol at the same time.

Why do you find symbols and coding so fascinating?
I’ve always been fascinated by codes and symbolic languages. My father is a maths teacher and a textbook writer and he taught me about codes when I was very young. My mother is a professional musician, so I understand music as a symbolic language. I think now, more than ever, when spiritual concepts and religion have the ability to pull cultures apart, or accentuate our differences, symbols are a universal language that pull us together.

Is it true that President Barack Obama is a fan of your books?
[Laughs] I’m not sure, I have heard that many times but I’ve never met him or spoken to him about it.

You spend most of your days reading and researching, but do you enjoy watching any particular TV series?
Of course. I spend six to eight hours a day writing and another three hours reading when it’s time for me to relax. When I can’t look at another word, I love quality television. Game of Thrones is terrific as are Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey and The Tudors.

You are coming to the UAE for the first time. Would you ever consider the Middle East as a setting for one of your novels?
I’m certainly open to that. My education and research has been in western civilization, that’s really Robert Langdon’s forte. But I’m fascinated by new cultures and philosophies. That’s one of the reasons I am happy to come to the UAE.
Dan Brown appears at the Sharjah International Book Fair. Thursday November 6, 7.30pm. Sharjah Expo Centre, Sharjah, www.sharjahbookfair.com.

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