With Dan Brown’s new novel Inferno putting him back atop bestseller lists, Lisa Rogak discusses her biography of the author and his future legacy.
Zola: What made you decide to write a Dan Brown biography?
Lisa Rogak: Writers fascinate me. In researching them, I learn a lot about their personalities and what makes them tick from their work habits, and Brown was no exception. I actually wrote the first edition of the biography back in 2005 when he first emerged in the spotlight with the publication of The Da Vinci Code and the subsequent trial for plagiarism in the UK. His life had changed radically in the years since, and I was intrigued by the idea of revisiting him.
Zola: What most surprised you about Brown once you started researching him?
LR: Nothing much surprises me when it comes to writers—I’ve written and researched so many of them, from Stephen King to Shel Silverstein—but I was heartened by the close relationship that Brown had—and indeed, still has—with his family. His relationship with his family is very close-knit and his parents nurtured him and his two siblings, which is typically an anomaly when it comes to writers and their families.
Zola: You managed to get a lot of people from Brown’s past to speak openly about him. How did you find these folks and get them to open up?
LR: A biographer’s best friend is the Wayback Machine, aka archive.org. I found past interviews and mentions of friends and colleagues, and contacted them. In most cases, they were happy to talk with me.
Zola: These days Dan Brown is a reclusive author who does very little press, but he was once quite the self-promoter. Do you think the change was his natural response to his sudden fame, or a guise he slipped into once the spotlights came out?
LR: Like many writers, he just wants to write and is uncomfortable being in the spotlight. In the early days, he did what was necessary to sell his “baby” to the media, but today he does very little press because, simply, he really doesn’t have to. His books will automatically sell themselves.
Zola: His sixth novel, Inferno, was just released. Have you read it? If not, do you plan to?
LR: I do plan to read it soon. I’m under deadline for two other books—one another biography—and so I have to squish my reading in where I can find it!
Zola: What do you think Brown’s literary legacy will be? Stephen King spent years enduring critical ridicule but later in life was even embraced by The New Yorker. Likewise Dan Brown?
LR: Could be, but King’s output is far more prodigious and of course, he’s been around a lot longer. In addition, King has experimented widely with a number of different styles and genres while Brown primarily focuses on creating well-researched, fact-packed page-turners that contain some degree of controversy. In any event, Dan Brown still proves that he can create a thrilling read that draws readers in and gives them a great education to boot!
This article originally appeared on Zola Books.