Dan Brown witness statement in Da Vinci Code case [2/4]

[Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4]

Advances in Angels & Demons

(a) The idea of the thriller as academic lecture

52. I tried to write a book that I would love to read. The kind of books I enjoy are those in which you learn. My hope was that readers would be entertained and also learn enough to want to use the book as a point of departure for more reading. When I was researching the book, I would learn things that fascinated readers. Rome was a location that allowed me to immerse myself in the history of religion, art, and architecture. For example, I visited the Pantheon. The docent talked to me about the history of the building – specifically its use as a pagan temple before being converted to Christian church. We talked about Constantine’s role in converting the pagans (including the Mithraics and the cult of Sol Invictus). Although I was familiar with Constantine, I learned about the cult of Sol Invictus, which was new to me, in particular its role in the choice of some of the dates of Christian holidays. This led to the section in Angels & Demons where Langdon is giving a lecture to his class about
Christianity and Sun Worship. He mentions Sol Invictus and Christianity borrowing from the previous religions.

(b) Hidden information and secret societies


53. Angels & Demons, like The Da Vinci Code after it, features a secret society. I had played with the subject of secretive organizations and hidden information in the first book in a high-tech setting. In Angels & Demons, however, I found far more interesting aspects to include. For example, the design of the Great Seal on the U.S. dollar bill includes an illustration of a pyramid – an object which arguably has nothing to do with American history. The pyramid, I learned, was actually an Egyptian occult symbol representing a convergence upward toward the ultimate source of illumination: in this case, an all seeing eye. The eye inside the triangle is a pagan symbol adopted by the Illuminati to signify the brotherhood’s ability to infiltrate and watch all things. In addition, the triangle (Greek Delta) is the scientific symbol for change. Some historians feel the Great Seal’s ‘shining delta’ is symbolic of the Illuminati’s desire to bring about ‘enlightened change’ from the myth of religion to the truth of science. All of this research and reading about the Illuminati led me also to learning more about Freemasons. This research was something I would come back to when I started to write and research The Da Vinci Code and also the book which I am currently writing.

54, Another group I read about while doing research for Angels & Demons was The Knights Templar. In Angels & Demons, the Templar Crusades play a major role in the back-story of one of my main characters (the Hassassin). I found Templar history fascinating. My recollection is that I had considered including more material on the Templars but decided to set it aside because I could not make all of Templar history fit into the tight framework of this novel.

55. I have asked myself why all this clandestine material interests me. At a fundamental level my interest in secret societies came from growing up in New England, surrounded by the clandestine clubs of Ivy League universities, the Masonic lodges of the Founding Fathers, and the hidden hallways of early government power. I see New England as having a long tradition of elite private clubs, fraternities, and secrecy – indeed, my third Robert Langdon novel (a work in progress) is set within the Masons. I have always found the concept of secret societies, codes, and means of communication fascinating. In my youth I was very aware of the Skull & Bones club at Yale. I had good friends who were members of Harvard’s secret “finals” clubs. In the town where I grew up, there was a Masonic lodge, and nobody could (or would) tell me what happened behind those closed doors. All of this secrecy captivated me as a young man.

(c) Codes and treasure hunts


56. Angels & Demons built on the writing devices I first used in Digital Fortress. In my first book, the cracking of the code is what accelerates the reader through the pages. In Angels & Demons, I moved away from the straight binary codes into the much more interesting device of clues wrapped up in poems or riddles. The snippets of verse in Angels & Demons are useful tools for releasing information and moving the plot to the next stage. One challenge when “presenting the reader with a complicated code is to control the flow of information so the overall mystery is not overwhelming. Finding a plot device that enables me to dole out information in bite size pieces is helpful. In Angels & Demons, I accomplished this by delivering the code in short snippets of verse, which enables the reader a chance to stay one step ahead of Langdon. Langdon, as a teacher, symbologist and art historian, satisfies dual prerequisites for my hero – that of being a credible teacher and also of being knowledgeable enough to decipher the clues in the artistic treasure hunts I create.

(d) The plot and the writing

57. I think that the plot and writing of Angels & Demons is better than that in Digital Fortress. In this second novel, I laid down a very strict outline of what was going to happen in this book and worked hard to stay on track while fleshing out the story.

58. I tried to write a book that I would love to read. I wanted every single chapter to compel the reader to turn the page. I was taught that efficiency of words is the way an author respects his readers’ time, and so I trimmed the novel heavily while I was writing. In Digital Fortress, the action takes place within twenty four hours, and I specifically set out to do that again in Angels & Demons. I compressed the plot and action to intensify the pace of the read, and I tried to keep the reader abreast of where the characters were physically, at all times. That seems to help the reader’s feeling that he is right there the entire time. In addition, I tried to end every chapter with a cliff-hanger.

59. All of my books have a very similar style, and I believe it to be the elements of this style (e.g. doling out information slowly) to which my readers react. All of my novels use the concept of a simple hero pulled out of his familiar world and thrown into a world that he (or she, in Deception Point) does not understand. I use strong female characters; travel and interesting locations; a romance between a man and woman of complementary expertise; a ticking clock (all my novels are set in 24 hours). Structural elements are consistent in every book. I think that it is not so much what I write which is compelling but how I say it. I must admit, however, that I did not realize this until my first three novels became huge bestsellers after The Da Vinci Code. The hard part of writing a novel is not the ideas but rather the nuts and bolts of the plot and language and making it all work.


Researching and writing Angels & Demons

60. Examining religion, art, and architecture was exciting to me. I loved researching these subjects; as did my wife, Blythe. Although I had researched Digital Fortress entirely on my own, for this new book Blythe became my research assistant. This was wonderful. We were able to work together as husband and wife; I now had a sounding board and a travel partner on research trips. Although Blythe’s main interest and expertise was art, I. did ask her for help researching specifics on scientific topics like Galileo, the Big Bang, particle accelerators, etc. She also served as a first pass set of eyes for new sections I was writing.

61. Architecture, art, sculpture, and religion are all intertwined, and nowhere more so than in Rome and Vatican City. Once I started to look at artwork for inclusion in the story, I began to focus on particular artists. I knew Bernini had had problems with the Church, for example, his sculpture, The Ecstasy of St. Teresa, which I mention in the book (Angels & Demons, Corgi, page 375), had been controversial. I think that this may have been the trigger for using Bernini in Angels & Demons. I had studied Bernini in Seville and knew a lot about his paintings and work. I was intrigued by the concept that Bernini’s artwork might contain hidden messages; I had learned in art history classes that artists like Bernini (and Da Vinci), when commissioned to create religious art that may have been contrary to their own beliefs, often placed second levels of meaning in their art.

62. As the novel’s Author’s Notes says, all of the works of art, tombs, tunnels, and architecture in Rome are entirely factual. It took me two separate trips to Rome to locate what I needed. Blythe and I walked miles, took hundreds of photos, and explored the city using all kinds of guidebooks, maps, and tours. The second trip I went over with an art specialist who had ties inside the Vatican. The Vatican has a staggering collection of Renaissance masters such as Michelangelo, Raphael, and Bernini. We spent a week in Rome, and our contact facilitated our gaining special access to the Scavi, access to the unclassified sections of the Vatican archives, as well as our seeing the Pope, both at a mass and in his audience hall.

63. Unfortunately, I did not get access to the Vatican secret archives. There are only a few American scholars who have been allowed into the secret archives; Many of the books inside have been there for hundreds of years, and some have never been seen. I have read that there are four miles of shelves in the Vatican secret archives, and I became captivated by the prospect of what might be kept down there. Before my first visit, I had petitioned for access to certain documents within the Vatican Archives. Not at all surprising to me, my request was denied. Nonetheless, our contact there generously arranged for us to see several restricted areas of the Vatican, including the Necropolis (the city of the dead buried beneath the Vatican), St. Peter’s actual crypt (which we learned is not where most people think it is), and some perilous sections of the roof high above the Basilica; all of which featured in Angels & Demons.

Simon & Schuster

64. After our trip to Rome, I had completed an outline for Angels & Demons, including a grand finale at CERN, which ultimately I did not use. St. Martin’s Press (SMP, my publisher for Digital Fortress) wanted to buy Angels & Demons, but I had been frustrated by their lack of promotional effort on my behalf. I had taken matters into my own hands. I spent my own money on publicity. I booked more than a hundred radio interviews, doing several a day for months. Despite good reviews, a very newsworthy/timely topic, and all of my grassroots efforts, the novel sold poorly. I decided that I would change publishing houses. I got an offer from Simon & Schuster, who wanted to buy Angels & Demons based on my outline and promised me a much larger publicity campaign.

65. Because Simon & Schuster had purchased my book in advance, 1 now was writing knowing that 1 had a publisher. I was encouraged because Simon & Schuster said they were extremely excited by Angels & Demons. They promised to give the book considerably more publicity and support than my previous publishers. Their proposed publicity included a much larger print run (60,000), advertising in major newspapers, web advertising, a 12 city tour, an e-book release, and other exciting prospects.

66. Unfortunately, when the book came out, my print run was slashed down to 12,000 copies with virtually no publicity at all. I was once again on my own and despite enthusiastic reviews, the novel sold poorly. Blythe and I were heartbroken as we had put so much work into this book. Once again, we took matters into our own hands, booking our own signings, booking our own radio shows, and selling books out of our car at local events.

67. At this point, my motivation was running thin. (I was still teaching to make ends meet, and I had made little money on Angels & Demons. I still owed Simon & Schuster another novel (I had signed a 2 book deal, with Simon & Schuster having an option on a third), and so I kept going in hopes that my sales would pick up or that one of the novels would be optioned and turned into a movie. At the time, that was a big financial incentive. I did receive numerous offers for the film rights to Angels & Demons, but I turned them down as they were not enough money and not with major studios.

68. This was not an easy time financially. I remember that we were forced to literally sell books out of our car at low profile publishing events. The few readers who read Angels & Demons had gone wild for it, and Blythe and I really believed we had something – if we could only get it to a critical mass of readers. The store where we buy most of our books, The Water Street Bookstore in Exeter New Hampshire, was hand selling my books, but the superstores still did not even know my name. Doing our own publicity and self-funding a book tour was expensive and exhausting. I was seriously considering not writing again. I learned a lot about publicity during this time, none of it very encouraging. I was told that the window of opportunity in book publishing was only a few weeks and that an author needed to reach a critical mass of readers very quickly after release, or the bookstores would return his books to the publisher to make room for the next round of new books. This is why large scale, coordinated launches are needed to make a success of most books. I realised I could not do it alone, no matter how hard I tried,

Deception Point (published 2001)

69. As I said, this period around 1999 was a very difficult time for me, but I remained hopeful. I was exhausted from the research and writing of such a complicated religious thriller, and I felt like I needed a break from symbols and art history. Even though I had lots of viable material left over from all of my research on religion/art/Rome and the Templars etc. I felt like I needed a change of pace. I decided to write what I later termed a “palate cleanser”. After writing about the covert National Security Agency and the clandestine brotherhood of the llluminati, I found myself hard pressed to come up with a more secretive topic. Fortunately, I had recently learned of another US intelligence agency, more covert even than the National Security Agency. This new agency, The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), figured prominently in my third novel, Deception Point.

70. The research I had completed for the first book, Digital Fortress; was a good starting point for the third book. I had a lot of information on national security, technology, funding and other government departments. At the time, the press had also been commenting on NASA’s string of failures and the feasibility of private aerospace companies taking over NASA’s role.

71. This debate gave me my “big idea”. I became very interested in the question of whether it made sense for my tax dollars to fund trips to Mars while the very school in which I was teaching could barely afford an art teacher. Then again, could we as human beings really give up our quest for discovery in space? Deception Point centred on issues of morality in politics, human progress, national security, and classified technology. The book explored organizations such as NASA and the NRO. The crux of the novel was the link between NASA, the military, and the political pressures of big budget technology.

72. The novel was a thriller about a meteorite discovered in the Arctic – a discovery that turns out to have profound political ramifications for an impending presidential election. The set up gave me a chance to debate and explore topics of morality in politics and science.

73. Of course, there is a twist in the tale, as there is in all my books. Like its predecessors, Deception Point incorporates my usual elements – a secretive organization, a love story, a chase, and plenty of academic lecture. At the heart, however, my books are all essentially treasure hunts set within a 24 hour period.

Researching and writing Deception Point

74. Unfortunately for Blythe, the technological subject matter of Deception Point did not interest her much. She helped research some of the geology and glaciology, the architecture of the White House, Air Force One, etc., but she served more as a first pass editor and sounding board.

Editing and promotion of Deception Point

75. After the disappointment of the sales of Angels & Demons, I was nervous about the prospects for Deception Point. Simon & Schuster assured me they were going to “build me” as an author and that publicity for my new novel would be better. Unfortunately, it was not.

The Da Vinci Code (published 2003)

76. Halfway through writing Deception Point I began to think that maybe I had made a mistake with this palate cleanser. I was feeling bored by the topic. I was no longer keen on politics – which was part of the story in Deception Point – and I did not enjoy writing with a female lead. I had been far more interested in the Vatican, Langdon, codes, symbology, and art. I wasn’t enjoying writing, I had no money, and I found myself wondering once again if I should give up. Fortunately, my wife has always been a tremendous support system and she encouraged me to keep at it.

77. In addition to Blythe’s support, my parents (both avid readers) repeatedly assured me the novels were commercial and that I just needed to find the right publisher. My lone advocate at Simon & Schuster seemed to be my editor, Jason Kaufman, with whom I had developed a friendship and level of trust. He too had become deeply frustrated with the lack of publisher support I was receiving at Simon & Schuster.

78. The day after I submitted the Deception Point manuscript Blythe and I travelled on a much needed vacation to Mexico. It was thereon the Yucatan Peninsula, exploring the ancient Mayan pyramids and archaeological ruins of Chichen-Itza and Tulum, that I was (at last) able to leave behind the high tech world of Deception Point. We were immersed in ancient ruins and lost cultures, and this intriguing history was tickling my imagination again. I began to muster the sense that I might be able to write another novel. At that point, I had no doubt who my hero would be – I would return to the world of Robert Langdon. This sequel would ultimately become The Da Vinci Code.

79. The Da Vinci Code tells the story of professor Robert Langdon’s race to decipher clues left for him by murdered Louvre curator Jacques Sauniere. Many of Sauniere’s clues involve wordplay and relate to Leonardo da Vinci. The novel is, at its core, a treasure hunt through Paris, London, and Edinburgh. The story is a blend of historical fact, legend, myth, and fiction.

80. The novel’s themes include: the sacred feminine; goddess worship; the Holy Grail; symbology; paganism; the history of the Bible and its accuracy, including the lost Gnostic Gospels; Templar history; the suppression of information by the church; the genealogy of Jesus; religious zealotry; and nature’s grand design as evidence for the existence of God.

81. Many of the themes mentioned above have been popular topics for centuries. One can find explorations of them in many languages, including the languages of art, literature, and music (specifically the songs of the Troubadours, the game of Tarot cards, and travelling storytellers).

82. Many of the aforementioned themes from The Da Vinci Code fall in a category I often call “secret history” – those parts of mankind’s past that allegedly have been lost or have become muddied by time, historical revision, or subversion. Of course, it is impossible when looking at secret history to know how much is truth, and how much is myth or fanciful invention. This blend of fact and potential intrigues me and is one of the reasons I love Leonardo da Vinci. Some of the most dramatic hints to possible lost “secret history” can be found in the paintings of Leonardo da Vinci, which seem to overflow with mystifying symbolism, anomalies, and codes. Art historians agree that Da Vinci’s paintings contain hidden levels of meaning that go well beneath the surface of the paint. Of course, some “secret history” may be fact, some fiction. This idea, of course, excited me as a potential plot device.

83. The Da Vinci Code has taken a lot of this infom1ation and put it forward in a different genre – that of a work of fiction, a thriller.

Researching and writing The Da Vinci Code

84. As with all of my books, so much time has passed since I researched each of the novels that it is hard for me to be exact about what sources I used at which precise point in the research and writing of each of the novels. In the case of The Da Vinci Code, Blythe and I spent a year or so travelling and conducting research during the writing of The Da Vinci Code. On the way, we met with historians and other academics and extended our travels from the Vatican and France to England and Scotland in order to investigate the historical underpinnings of the novel.

85. In preparing this statement, what I have done is gone back to my research books and notes and thought long and hard about how these big ideas came to the surface. In doing so, I see that more notes have survived from The Da Vinci Code than from any of my previous novels. This is not surprising. I am not a pack rat; in fact, I’m the exact opposite. In the same way that I try to trim the fat from my writing, I am constantly trimming excess clutter from my life. I have discarded most of my life’s memorabilia, including personal letters, grade school essays, early diaries, and even academic commendations. I trashed my first manuscript for Digital Fortress (which I now regret) and even disposed of most lyric notes and demo tapes from my years as a songwriter. This may sound surprising, but both Digital Fortress and my music career felt like creative failures (as did Angels & Demons and Deception Point), and big boxes of old notes felt like painful reminders of years spent for naught. Also, we have moved house four times since I began writing, and heavy boxes of old notes rank very high on my “to discard” list.

86. I believe another reason that I found more notes from The Da Vinci Code is that it has been the most research intensive of my novels to date. It was my fourth novel, and I was getting better at writing; in the same way a musician chooses to perform harder and harder pieces as he masters his instrument, I was eager to tackle more complicated plotlines. My research books for The Da Vinci Code are heavily marked with margin notes, sticky notes, underlining, highlighting, inserted pieces of paper, etc. A good portion of these notes (as with Angels & Demons) are in my wife’s handwriting. She is passionate about art and secret history and was enjoying educating herself and being involved in the research. For example, in Angels & Demons, she may have found me the exact specifications of Berriini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers. With The Da Vinci Code, however, she was reading entire books, highlighting exciting ideas, and urging me to read the material myself and find ways to work the ideas in to the plot. In particular, she became passionate about the history of the Church’s suppression of women, and she lobbied hard for me to make it a primary theme of the novel. Blythe also tends to save far more memorabilia than I do; many of the research notes were now hers, and more of them found their way into safe-keeping.

87. Looking back at the books, I can see that we were highlighting all the big concepts that eventually appeared in the final draft of the book. In the following paragraphs, I have noted specific parts of source works we looked at to illustrate this point – this is not an exhaustive review of the research we did, but it gives an indication of the parameters and extent of the research.

88. In beginning to write The Da Vinci Code, I tried to place my head back in to the world of Robert Langdon – the world of art, religion, secrets, and symbols. In exploring his world anew, I began mulling over much of the information that had been leftover from my Angels & Demons research. This included my research on the brotherhood of the Masons and on The Knights Templar. As I have pointed out, the links between the Illuminati and the Masons are well documented, and one can hardly read about the Masons and not also read about the Knights Templar.

89.. Blythe and I began buying additional research books on these groups. We already owned several books about the Masons (e.g. Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry, Morals & Dogma). In looking back at what we were buying at around this time, the titles included: The Hiram Key, by Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas (D.44); The History of the Knights Templars, by Charles G. Addison (D.23); The Knights Templarand their Myth, by Peter Partner; and Born in Blood, by John J. Robinson (D.55). All four books are listed in the partial bibliography I produced for the Synopsis for The Da Vinci Code, which I later submitted to publishers, including Random House (see 163).

90. From my research in Angels & Demons, I had read extensively on the Templars, including the legend of “The Money Pit” – buried Templar treasure in Nova Scotia. This well-documented legend (literally buried treasure) held my interest for a time, and I toyed with it as an element for this new novel. I soon decided that Nova Scotia was not an ideal setting for a novel because it did not afford me the many options I would need for dramatic settings. In addition, I longed to put Robert Langdon back in the world of Angels & Demons – and that meant Europe.

91. At the outset of the project, one of my desires was to explore the origin of the Bible. The Bible is, in many respects, like any other compilation – it is a heavily edited collection of many authors’ works. Even so, many people accept what is said in the Bible to be absolute fact. Another reason for selecting the topic of the Bible was my fascination with religion in general. To put it at its simplest, although religion often did good things and helped a lot of people, I could see that there were also many situations where any religion could be used for evil purposes. I found this clash to be potentially fertile ground in which to plant the seeds of my novel. I thought that perhaps this would be the theme, or “big idea” of the novel.

92. The theme of the Bible and religion took me to the Gnostic Gospels (essentially those parts of the Bible that were drafted, but ultimately did not appear in the final version and, therefore had not been widely read). Since visiting Rome while researching Angels & Demons I remained fascinated by what could be buried in the Vatican secret archives – those miles and miles of books must contain something pretty interesting – what could it be? At this early stage I thought that the answer to this question would be, in essence, material contained in alternative drafts of the Bible and the Gnostic Gospels – the story we read in the Bible is a partial story and it is an edited story. Many historians believe that the Gnostic Gospels are one of the missing pieces.

The Hiram Key – Knight & Lomas (D.44)

93. Angels & Demons had given me the chance to build on my knowledge of Constantine and the history of Christianity. I thought that it may be an idea to look at that history through a slightly different lens, that lens being the exploration of those books of the Bible that were omitted from Constantine’s version. An important book for this early research was The Hiram Key by Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas. This book examines the role of the Masons and The Knights Templar in excavating and then hiding a cache of early Christian writings. It also mentions the family of Jesus (siblings as opposed to children), the origins of Christianity, the Gnostic Gospels, and Rosslyn Chapel, in Edinburgh.

94. Looking back at my copy of The Hiram Key. I can see that either Blythe or myself has underlined passages that speculate as to the nature of what the Templars found and the subsequent impact on Christianity. We also underlined sections that deal with Constantine and the importance of Sol Invictus in determining modern Christian dates and practices.

95. I can see from our copy of The Hiram Key (D.44) that there is a mix of handwriting (quite extensive in parts) and markings (pencil, pen and highlighter pens) made by Blythe and me. In my childhood, I was taught never to write in books. To this day, I still have a strong aversion to it. (In fact, when I first became published and people asked me to sign their editions, I felt funny about it.) For this reason, my margin notes often are very light or taken down on a separate piece of paper. Blythe does not share my idiosyncrasy, and she often marks books very heavily. She also often produced research documents for me as a result of her studies of the books. An example from The Hiram Key is “hiram’s key notes” (D.332). It can be seen from that document that she included a number of page references which she thought I should consult.

96. The above references to my books and documents are byway of example (as are the other examples I cite in this statement). When I am researching and writing a novel I read a lot of material. There is, of course, additional material in all of these sources which I would have seen, either because I read the book or because the research would suggest I read certain sections. Usually, I carefully read the notes Blythe prepared for me, but on some occasions she prepared notes that were either too lengthy (which I skimmed or ignored), seemed off-topic (notes that were of interest to her, but for which I had no use), or were outdated (sometimes I asked for information and then changed my mind or deleted that plot point).

The Templar Revelation- Pichzett& Prince (D. 53)

97. One of the new research books we found that I found most intriguing was The Templar Revelation. I think we discovered this book by chance during one of my book signings for Deception Point at a large chain bookstore. On our copy, I see its cover includes the tagline “Secret Guardians of the True Identity of Christ”. Even today, this kind of book is the type that we would pick up. The cover of our copy of Templar Revelation bears a symbol with which we were already acquainted –the ankh which is mentioned in Angels & Demons by symbologist Robert Langdon (Corgi, page 253). I think this discovery was very early on in the research process –at this stage, I did not yet have a title for the novel. I was still hunting around for the “big idea”.

98. The Templar Revelation discussed secret Templar history and the possible involvement of Leonardo da Vinci. This Da Vinci connection fit well into my desire to write in Langdon’s domain, the world of art. I became excited about using Leonardo da Vinci as an historical touchstone and plot device for my new novel. Bernini had been central to Angels & Demons and I had enjoyed writing that book. Moreover, I knew Blythe was an enormous fan of Leonardo da Vinci and would be eager to help me research. It was probably at about this time that I came up with the title The Da Vinci Code.

99. Leonardo da Vinci is often described as a man who awoke from a deep slumber only to find that the rest of the world was still sleeping. An artist, inventor, mathematician, alchemist, he was a man centuries ahead of his time. Perhaps the greatest scientist the world had ever seen, Da Vinci faced the challenge of being a modem man of reason born into an age of religious fervour; an era when science was synonymous with heresy. Men like Galileo and Copernicus, in studying astronomy and the heavens, were considered trespassers -invaders in a sacred domain whose mysteries previously had been reserved for the traditional scholars of heaven -the priests. The Church believed that the magic of the universe (the stars, the seasons; planets) were evidence of God’s almighty design. They were miracles to be revered as such, not scientific riddles to be unravelled and de mystified with telescopes and mathematics.

100. Surprisingly, despite Da Vinci’s lifelong conflict with religion, he was a deeply spiritual man. Like Galileo, Da Vinci looked at nature’s miracles, and in them, he saw proof of a divine Creator. The ratio PHl is a perfect example of this. Leonardo da Vinci employed this “Golden Ratio” in much of his f religious artwork. His philosophy was one in which science and religion lived in harmony. As I have said, I have a fascination with the interplay between science and religion, and I think that’s one of the reasons I became so quickly engrossed in Leonardo da Vinci as a topic. He is perhaps the perfect subject for me, given my love of codes, science, religion, art and secrecy.

101. As I stated earlier, I studied art history at the University of Seville. The course covered the entire history of World Art, including, of course, Leonardo Da Vinci. The course made a great impression on me. I was only 21 years old at the time.. but years later, reading Templar Revelation (D.S3), I recalled the professor’s observations about the dark quality of The Last Supper. I was starting to sense I had another Langdon novel in the works. Angels & Demons had touched on Bernini’s secrets; and now I could see a path where I could do the same with Da Vinci.

102. Da Vinci is also the connection between art and the secret society that I chose to include in The Da Vinci Code – the Priory of Sion. Like Da Vinci’s paintings, the Priory of Sion and Da Vinci’s involvement with it is discussed in Templar Revelation (D..S3). I had included the subject of cults and secret societies in my previous novel, Angels & Demons, by referring to the Illuminati. Both Digital Fortress and Deception Point featured secretive organizations. With Langdon the common protagonist to both Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code, and having played around with the idea of the Masons being the secret society, I decided to include a reference to another cult in The Da Vinci Code, namely the Priory of Sion. I also made the decision to shelve the Masons for another day.

103. From the moment I started conceiving The Da Vinci Code, it was a certainty that art would feature significantly. Langdon is not merely a symbologist, he is an art historian. From looking back at my documents and sources, I can see that Blythe and I purchased many books with information about art and codes in art, Templar Revelation (D.S3) being one of them.

104. There is a note on the first page of our copy of Templar Revelation (D.53) referencing Poussin, the Last Supper, Teniers and Notre Dame. In the book, there is also an analysis of the painting Virgin of the Rocks. In my printed research, one of the documents is entitled “Interesting Leonardo stories” (D.334). This features some quotes from Templar Revelation and analysis of Virgin of the Rocks. In another document “DVC -TO ADDl’ (D.91!, there is information on Boticelli, the artist that features in Margaret Starbird’s book The Woman with the Alabaster Jar{D.59) (a book which I mention again below).

105. Many other books were bought by Blythe, or were simply in our possession as art lovers, on Leonardo da Vinci. The partial bibliography on my website lists The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, which I know we own but cannot find. It also lists, Prophecies, by Leonardo da Vinci; Leonardo da Vinci: Scientist, Inventor, Artist; and Leonardo da Vinci, the Artist apd the Man. Itis most likely that I read these texts online, found something useful, and therefore credited them. I particu1arly recall using Prophecies for a quote.

106. More information on coded paintings was found in book The Tomb of God, by Richard Andrews and Paul Schellenberger (D.24). For example, its front cover is the painting Les Bergers d’ Arcadie II by Nicolas Poussin. On the title page there is a note in Blythe’s handwriting. There is a chapter on Poussin and Teniers, with a note in Blythe’s hand-writing “work Poussin into Mystery?”.

107. Cocteau is another artist who features in The Da Vinci Code for his coded works, particularly with regard to Notre Dame. Looking back at my notes and research texts, it would appear that most of this information came from Templar Revelation (D.53). (I know that Holy Blood, Holy Grail also examines hidden meaning in Cocteau’s work, but The Da Vinci Code and Holy Blood, Holy Grail discuss different pieces.)

108. I should mention that Blythe wrote similar notes in many of our research books, usually urging me to take note of some interesting fact she had found. She was becoming more and more intrigued by the information we were learning, and she wanted me to incorporate all of it (which I could not possibly do). She often playfully chided me about my resolve to keep the novel fast-paced (always at the expense of her research). In return, I jokingly reminded her that I was trying to write a thriller, not a history book. In the end, we found a comfortable balance of pace and history, and we had a wonderful time throwing ideas back and forth. Blythe’s female perspective was particularly helpful with this book, which deals so heavily with concepts like the sacred feminine, goddess worship and the feminine aspect of spiritually.

109 Somewhere during the research for The Da Vinci Code (and well before I started writing anything), I learned that Mary Magdalene was not in fact a prostitute (as I had been taught in Sunday school) – this is alluded to in Templar elevation and The Woman with the Alabaster Jar. This stunned me I was amazed that this piece of mis-information had survived so long. I was curious about what other mis-information remained part of official church doctrine once again, I was motivated to dig deeper. So we purchased some of the books instead in Templar Revelation, including The Woman with the Alabaster jar, by Margaret Starbird. I can’t remember how we found this book – perhaps by Blythe searching in the internet, or perhaps simply by seeing it mentioned in Templar Revelation. The Woman with the Alabaster Jar focuses on the story of the misrepresented Mary Magdalene. I am fairly sure that it was his book which led us to the second Margaret Starbird book, The Goddess the Gospels (0.58).

110. As I read more about the lost books of the Bible, I was reminded of the old truism that since the beginning of recorded time, history has been written by the “winners” (those societies and belief systems that conquered and survived). Despite an obvious bias in this accounting method, we still measure the “historical accuracy” of a given concept by examining how well it concurs with our existing historical record. I was becoming more open to considering different versions of history.

111. Although I was sceptical at first about Margaret Starbird’s books, Blythe reacted to them with enormous passion and enthusiasm. In fact, I’m not sure I had ever seen Blythe as passionate about anything as she became for the historical figure of Mary Magdalene (particularly the idea that the church had unfairly maligned her). Blythe even bought a painting of Mary Magdalene and hung it over her desk. Margaret Starbird’s books opened our eyes to the concept of the Church’s subjugation of the sacred feminine. But I still needed some convincing. At about this time my wife ordered a series of three historical films by the film maker Donna Rea ~ (Women & Spirituality). I found the films absolutely fascinating. I was amazed to learn of the existence of a church publication called The Malleus Maleficarum (D.45), a book that counselled people how to identify and murder women who fit the church’s broad definition of “witch”. I began to realize that history barely mentioned the Church’s systemic subjugation of the sacred feminine. The films also mentioned the Gnostic Gospels, pre-historic art honouring the female as life giver, the symbol of the inverted triangle – the womb, Catholicism, symbols, the serpent being linked to religion, the obliteration of 25,000 years of goddess worship by the ancient Greeks (Athena, formerly a goddess of love becomes a war goddess and – strikingly – sprang from the head of Zeus, as Eve came from Adam’s rib).

112. My eyes were now wide open to the idea of the suppression of the sacred feminine. My reading convinced me that there was a great case to be put forward that woman had been unfairly treated in the eyes of society for hundreds of years if not longer, and that religion had played a big part: in this. An example of where I worked this conception into The Da Vinci Code is on pages 173- 74 {Corgi).

113. However, my “big idea” had not yet fully formed itself. At this point, I might have toyed with writing a few sections of the book (in no particular order) to get a feel of the characters or setting, but I still wasn’t entirely decided on the backbone of the story. It seemed to be evolving into something much more interesting than simply Da Vinci’s paintings and the origins of the Bible. I could not imagine how this information about suppressing the sacred feminine had been done or why it was not known in the mainstream. Blythe, as well as helping e with the research, encouraged me to incorporate the theme of the sacred feminine and the goddess. From looking back at my documents and sources, I can see, for example, that on a note inserted into the inside cover of The Woman ‘s Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects, by Walker (0..60), Blythe has written a note “goddess section” (0.238); and on page 202, she has written “read all” by the Goddess entry. Further, in a document entitled “DVC 16 – TO ADDI” (D.91); sections of material either Blythe provided or I toyed with include references to themes such as the sacred feminine, fairytales, lsis, and other topics which feature abundantly in the Margaret Starbird books.

114. Margaret Starbird’s books were a big inspiration -the image she created of Mary Magdalene being the bride, the lost sacred feminine, was very elegant – it seemed like the “big idea” –like the core of a classic fairy tale or enduring legend. This concept of the lost sacred feminine became the backbone of The Da Vinci Code and would become the central theme of the novel –in the Acknowledgements I thank my wife and my mother and note that the novel “draws heavily on the sacred feminine”. Also, the reason why Sauniere is so keen for Sophie to meet with Langdon is because of a shared interest in goddess worship. In the book Langdon’s yet to be published manuscript is called “Symbols of the Lost Sacred Feminine” (The Da Vinci Code, Corgi, pages 42 -143)

115. Indeed, at the very start of my Synopsis, for The DaVinci Code (0.4), which I refer to below, I included the quote from Genesis “God created man in his own image male and female”. I did this to reinforce the central theme of the book, which was there right from the start of the writing. In The Da Vinci Code, I. also decided to describe the Priory as “the pagan goddess worship cult” (Corgi page 158) in order to further steer the emphasis of the novel towards Mary Magdalene and the lost feminine. This portrayal of the role and ideology of the Priory was my personal interpretation,

116. I also included a quotation attributed to Pope Leo X, which appears in The Hiram Key “It has served us well, this myth of Christ”, because the book would feature the history of Christianity. My dad is a great sounding board, and I still remember talking to him about the idea of writing a novel about the lost sacred feminine. He seemed uncertain but noted (tongue in cheek) that if I wrote a book with the central theme of the sacred feminine, I may sell more books and able to pay my rent because most book-buyers were women.

[Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4]

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Mar. 14, 2006
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