He moved to Los Angeles with the goal of becoming a singer-songwriter and pianist, and joined the National Academy of Songwriters. In the early 1990s, he got a production deal for an album of “adult contemporary piano stuff” in the vein of Elton John and Billy Joel, which he titled, “Dan Brown.”
“I made a record that about three people bought,” he said. “Right at the beginning of the rap craze. My timing was horrible.”
In 1990, he met Blythe, who at the time was the director of Artist Development at the National Academy of Songwriters, and she helped him make connections in the industry. For his day job, he taught at Beverly Hills Preparatory School.
When his career as a singer-songwriter fizzled, he and Blythe moved to New Hampshire, where he found a job as an English teacher at Phillips Exeter, and she worked as a dental assistant. Eventually, he turned to his backup plan, writing novels, and kept making music on the side.
In 1998, Mr. Brown published his first book, “Digital Fortress,” starring an attractive, brilliant National Security Agency cryptographer named Susan. He followed with “Angels & Demons,” featuring his now famous Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, then “Deception Point,” about another attractive, brilliant government bureaucrat, a White House intelligence analyst named Rachel, who uncovers a conspiracy when she investigates a NASA discovery. All three books initially sold poorly.
Then came “The Da Vinci Code,” an explosive thriller published in 2003 that hinged on the premise that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and had a child together. It was made into a movie starring Tom Hanks as a code-cracking Robert Langdon, which grossed more than $760 million globally. To date, the book has 85 million copies in print.