The Man behind the Code

I spend my life essentially alone at a computer. That doesn't change. I have the same challenges every day.” –Dan Brown

Dan Brown, lahir pada tanggal 22 Juni 1964 di Exeter, New Hampshire, Amerika Serikat, adalah seorang novelis yang terkenal lewat berbagai karya fenomenalnya, seperti “The Da Vinci Code”, “Angels & Demons” dan “The Lost Symbol”. Nama Brown mencuat ketika novelnya, “The Da Vinci Code” yang diterbitkan pada tahun 2003, menimbulkan kontroversi di berbagai kalangan akibat jalan ceritanya. Namun rupanya di luar jalan ceritanya yang menimbulkan banyak kritik dan perdebatan, buku tersebut sangat laris di pasaran, dengan kisah seru sang tokoh utama Robert Langdon dalam memecahkan kode, simbol, serta konspirasi di dalamnya. Buku ini berhasil membawa Brown sebagai salah satu penulis yang paling diperhitungkan di abad 21. Hingga kini, buku-buku Brown telah ditranslasi ke dalam 40 bahasa dan pada tahun 2009 tercatat telah terjual sebanyak lebih dari 80 juta kopi di seluruh dunia. Bahkan dua dari buku-bukunya, “The Da Vinci Code” dan “Angels & Demons” telah diadaptasi ke layar lebar dengan aktor kawakan Tom Hanks sebagai pemeran Robert Langdon. Buku ketiga yang juga diangkat ke layar lebar, “The Lost Symbol”, akan dirilis filmnya pada tahun 2012 ini.
Dan Brown tumbuh besar di tempat kelahirannya, Exeter, New Hampshire, Amerika Serikat. Tak heran apabila ia tumbuh menjadi orang yang sangat menyukai misteri, kode dan teka-teki, karena Brown dibesarkan dengan teka-teki buatan orang tuanya sendiri. Ayahnya adalah guru matematika, yang bersama sang ibu juga adalah seorang penyanyi dan musisi. Brown’s interest in secrets and puzzles stems from their presence in his household as a child, where codes and ciphers were the linchpin tying together the mathematics, music and languages in which his parents worked. The young Brown spent hours working out anagrams and crossword puzzles, and he and his siblings participated in elaborate treasure hunts devised by their father on birthdays and holidays. On Christmas, for example, Brown and his siblings did not find gifts under the tree, but followed a treasure map with codes and clues throughout their house and even around town to find the gifts. Brown’s relationship with his father inspired that of character Sophie Neveu and Jacques Sauniere in “The Da Vinci Code”, and Chapter 23 of that novel was inspired by one of his childhood treasure hunts.
Mungkin tidak banyak yang tahu bahwa sebelum beralih profesi menjadi seorang penulis, Dan Brown sempat menjadi seorang penyanyi dan penulis lagu. Bakat musiknya ini terasah seiring lingkungan keluarga yang merupakan keluarga musisi. Ketika menuntut ilmu di Amherst College, baik bakat musik maupun menulisnya terasah. Brown bergabung dengan klub menyanyi Glee dan bertindak sebagai writing student untuk penulis tamu Alan Lelchuk. Pada tahun 1985 ia mendapatkan kesempatan untuk belajar sejarah seni di University of Seville, Spanyol selama setahun. Lulus dari Amherst pada tahun 1986, Brown memulai karirnya sebagai seorang musisi. Pada tahun 1991 ia pindah ke Hollywood untuk merintis karirnya. Brown bahkan masuk ke National Academy of Songwriters, dimana ia akhirnya bertemu dengan Blythe Newlon, seniornya yang lebih tua 12 tahun yang akhirnya menjadi istrinya kini. Setelah sempat memproduksi album sendiri pada tahun 1993 dan 1994, Brown dan sang istri akhirnya pindah ke New Hampshire. Di sanalah Brown akhirnya mengubah haluannya. Dari menulis musik dan lirik lagu, ia menulis sebuah cerita novel.
Dan Brown terinspirasi untuk menulis sebuah novel thriller setelah membaca novel berjudul “The Doomsday Conspiracy” karya Sidney Sheldon. He started work on “Digital Fortress”, his debut novel, setting much of it in Seville, Spain, where he had studied in 1985. Pada tahun 1996, Brown berhenti dari profesinya sebagai guru sekolah untuk fokus menulis. Pada tahun 1998, novel pertamanya “Digital Fortress” terbit. His wife, Blythe, did much of the book's promotion, writing press releases, booking Brown on talk shows, and setting up press interviews. A few months later, Brown and his wife released “The Bald Book”, another humor book after “187 Men to Avoid: A Guide for the Romantically Frustrated Woman”, which he wrote with his wife in 1995. Brown subsequently wrote “Angels & Demons” and “Deception Point”, released in 2000 and 2001 respectively, the former of which was the first to feature the lead character, Harvard symbology expert Robert Langdon.
Dan Brown’s first three novels had little success, with fewer than 10,000 copies in each of their first printings. His fourth novel, “The Da Vinci Code”, became a bestseller, going to the top of the New York Times Best Seller list during its first week of release in 2003. It is now credited with being one of the most popular books of all time, with 81 million copies sold worldwide as of 2009. Its success has helped push sales of Brown’s earlier books. In 2004, all four of his novels were on the New York Times list in the same week, and in 2005, he made Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people of the year. Forbes magazine placed Brown at number 12 on their 2005 “Celebrity 100” list, and estimated his annual income at 76,5 million USD. The Times estimated his income from “The Da Vinci Code” sales as 250 million USD.
Dan Brown’s fifth novel, also third novel featuring Robert Langdon, “The Lost Symbol”, was released on September 15, 2009. According to the publisher, on its first day the book sold over one million in hardcover and e-book versions in the U.S., the U.K. and Canada, prompting the printing of 600,000 hardcover copies in addition to the five million first printing. Brown has stated that he has ideas for about 12 future books featuring Robert Langdon.
Sang istri, Blythe, berperan sangat besar dibalik pembuatan setiap buku-buku Brown. In interviews, Brown has said that his wife is an art historian and painter. When they met, she was the Director of Artistic Development at the National Academy for Songwriters in Los Angeles. During the 2006 lawsuit over alleged copyright infringement in “The Da Vinci Code”, information was introduced at trial that showed that Blythe did research for the book. In one article, she was described as “chief researcher”.
Kesuksesan buku-buku Dan Brown membuat para sineas Hollywood tertarik dan berlomba-lomba untuk mengangkatnya ke dalam kisah layar lebar. In 2006, Brown’s novel “The Da Vinci Code” was released as a film by Columbia Pictures, with director Ron Howard. The movie starred Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon. The next film, “Angels & Demons”, was released on May 15, 2009, with Howard and Hanks returning. A movie adaptation of “The Lost Symbol” is confirmed to be in production for 2012 release.
Sepanjang karir menulisnya yang masih tergolong muda, Brown berkali-kali dihadapkan pada kritik pedas atas kontroversi yang terkandung dalam cerita-ceritanya. Ia juga pernah mendapatkan tuduhan plagiasi dari beberapa pihak. Namun Brown berhasil memenangkan semua tuntutan tersebut, karena meskipun merupakan cerita fiksi, memang setiap novel yang ia tulis adalah berdasarkan riset nyata yang dibantu oleh sang istri sendiri. Because of the research-intensive nature of his novels, Brown can spend up to two years writing them. In an interview with Matt Lauer on “The Today Show” in September 2009, Brown said, “I do something very intentional and specific in these books. And that is to blend fact and fiction in a very modern and efficient style, to tell a story. There are some people, who understand what I do, and they sort of get on the train and go for a ride and have a great time, and there are other people who should probably just read somebody else.
Minatnya yang sangat besar kepada misteri, teka-teki, kode, simbol, sejarah, seni, membuat Dan Brown berada di posisinya kini, sebagai salah satu penulis jenius yang dimiliki oleh dunia. Setiap karya-karya Brown akan selalu menjadi yang ditunggu-tunggu oleh para pembacanya. Tidak hanya sanggup memacu adrenalin, kisah yang dibangun Brown juga mampu menghadirkan pengetahuan-pengetahuan baru. His books are everlasting, and the readers will always be anticipated for this brilliant author’s next writing.

That is the definition of faith; acceptance of that which we imagine to be true, that which we cannot prove.” –Dan Brown

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