Will Dan Brown write a blockbuster set partly in Ireland? 'Quite possibly'
HE IS one of the world's best-selling authors, raking in an estimated €20m in book sales last year alone and with film adaptations starring Tom Hanks, but he flew under the radar at the Web Summit yesterday.
Dan Brown told a huge crowd from Centre Stage today that yesterday he walked around the event at the RDS for an hour and a half accompanied by his wife, assistant and agent, and nobody recognised him whatsoever.
"I pulled on a baseball cap and walked around, and thought 'This is incredible'," he said.
"My agent thought, 'This is terrible - nobody knows who you are'," he added to laughter.
Brown has sold more than 200 million books since the runaway success of 'The Da Vinci Code' which was released in 2003, and the fourth Robert Langdon book 'Inferno' spent 11 weeks at the top of the New York Times Bestseller List when it was released last year.
According to Forbes.com, the 51-year-old earned more than €20m last year alone, and his was arguably the biggest celebrity 'name' at this year's Web Summit. One of his talks today was entitled 'Will science kill God?'
"I don't accept a lot of invitations to speak but when I was invited to Web Summit I said 'yes' immediately because I believe that technology will do as much to shape the future of religious spirituality as will all of the religious leaders combined," he said.
"I think it is a matter of personal taste whether it is for better or worse. I think as time starts to erode the gods of the past, I think it starts to build bridges to new kinds of spirituality, new ways of thinking about gods," he added.
He described science and religion as "two different languages attempting to tell the same great story" and said they "do great damage to each other".
But how is religion surviving in the face of the constant erosion by science, by technology, by the opening of communication, he was asked
"There is something about the human mind that creates order, creates answers," he said, remembering that when a girl he knew died of leukemia when he was a boy he took comfort from the priest's words that it was "part of God's plan".
"I remember that kind of comforted me - it is not all random, there is a higher power," he said, adding he knows agnostics who still pray before a flight takes off.
"I don't care how up to date your iPhone software is, when you take off it's not going to help you," he said to laughter.
Unsurprisingly, given the Irish love of fawning at big names, a question and answer session soon became parochial: would he ever set a book here?
"If you asked me a week ago whether I would base a book in Ireland, I'd say 'I'm not sure'. Today: 'quite possibly'. That is as much as I'm going to give you," he said.
But we pushed him nonetheless - would Ireland, given its complicated history with Catholicism and religion and given Mr Brown's interest in symbolism and religious disruption, not be the perfect place to send Robert Langdon in a few years?
"I've always been fascinated in the effects of religions, certainly the conflicts that religion causes so yes, this would be a fascinating place to set a book," he conceded.
He also confirmed he is staying on for another few days with his wife to see some of our countryside - so that's pretty much a done deal.
Mr Brown said he is "deep in the middle" of the latest Robert Langdon thriller, and is much closer to completion than the "five years" it sometimes takes him to write a book. He wouldn't be drawn on a release date, or a title.
He confirmed, however, that he continues to get up at 3.30am to write - just like he did in the 90s when he was holding down a day job to pay the bills.
This, he says, is for two reasons: to send a message to himself that writing is a priority, but also because he believes there is a "thin veil between dreaming and writing" fiction, and he likes to work on the cusp of it.