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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Decoding The Lost Symbol - Simon Cox

Solving mysteries is what I do. In my case, its usually historical mysteries and enigmas, I’m the perfect person to write a guide to the latest Dan Brown novel, The Lost Symbol. This is my fourth such guide book after, Cracking The Da Vinci Code, Illuminating Angels & Demons, and The Dan Brown Companion. I think I have Mr. Brown figured out by now.

So, what were the major mysteries of The Lost Symbol? Well, they certainly weren’t in the same controversial league as the previous novel, The Da Vinci Code – but mysteries there are nevertheless. As a British based author, I suddenly found myself faced with a mountain of research to undertake on the foundations of the United States, its founding fathers, the seemingly Masonic origins of many of the symbols and iconography associated with the formation of this new state and of whether secret societies had a hand in this creation. It was one of the most interesting research endeavors I have ever undertaken.

One of the major eye opening mysteries that I looked into, was the seemingly sacred and secret layout of Washington, DC. This beautiful city on the banks of the Potomac river is at first glance an elegant and well designed array of streets and boulevards that show a high degree of architectural skill and forward thinking design. However, when you look deeper you find that other hands may well have been at play when this city that was to rise from the swampland was designed and planned. There are obvious symbolic elements and Masonic meanings encoded within the very fabric of the city. The way streets are aligned and laid out, the placement of buildings and monuments, and the number symbolism inherent within the measurements of many of the original buildings, all points to a unified and symbolic meaning encoded within DC. It was wonderful to see and understand, like a fog had been lifted, and I could see a glimpse of the original idea.

What makes the Dan Brown books so absorbing is the way he weaves such factual elements into the fabric of his thrillers. In The Da Vinci Code, he had us all wondering whether a great religious and sacred secret was to be found in the south of France, in Angels & Demons he introduced many people to the brilliant artist and sculptor, Bernini, for the first time. In The Lost Symbol, he once again introduces the reader to some deep and interesting themes. Science is represented by noetics, religion by the ideas of such men as Jefferson, Franklin and Washington, art by the amazing Albrecht Durer. It all adds up to a compelling and addictive mix that involves you as a reader and engages you as a researcher.

The Lost Symbol is a pretty good book in the end. Not as immediate as The Da Vinci Code and not as dynamic as Angels & Demons, but its much more of a slow burner. A book that challenges you to look deeper and think more about belief, tolerance and the fundamental meaning of things.

My guide book, Decoding The Lost Symbol, is published in the United States on November 3rd, by Touchstone/Simon & Schuster. I hope it inspires some people to look at the bibliography and some of the entries, with an eye to looking further into some of the mysteries of the past. Your past.

For those of you interested in knowing more, or who want to contact me directly, I am on Facebook under my name, on Twitter (@FindSimonCox) and have a website at www.decodingthelostsymbol.com, where you will also find details of a fabulous conference I have put together for November 8th in Los Angeles.

Simon Cox


Shirley said...

Good morning, Simon. So glad you're joining us this morning.

I'd like to know if you had some prior knowledge that The Lost Symbol was being written. Did you try to coincide your book release with the actual book?

Janet Kay Gallagher said...

Hi Simon,
Is Our government founded on some evil plot?

Janet Kay Gallagher said...

Hi Simon,
What did Dan Brown think of you explaining his books?
And, Why did you think it was necessary?
And, How did you come to under take such a project?

RTHRBRTN said...

Welcome to Sleuth's Ink, Mr. Cox. I look forward to reading your book. I started reading The Lost Symbol, but got bogged down as we slowly traversed the guts of the capital. I have long been interested in Free Masonery as several of my ancestors were Masons. Actually, at this point their symbolism and pagentry seems a little silly to me.

Good luck with the sale of your book.

Beth said...

Thanks for guest blogging, Simon. Your post is very interesting--especially about Washington, D.C. I'd love to know more about the sacred, secret parts of D.C.!

I have a few questions:

How did you research The Lost Symbol? Mainly on the Internet, in libraries, or where?

Have you met Dan Brown?

How long did it take you to write your guide book?

Have you written anything other than guide books? It sounds as though you've found your niche combining (and demystifying) science and art.

Finally, do you work in the mornings, afternoons, or evenings? (I love to know how writers manage their time.)

That's all for now. Again, thanks. I'll check out your site. Good luck with your book and conference.

Stephanie Jarkins said...

Thank you for blogging on our site. I look forward to reading your book. Have you found some readers very "defensive" on the points of Masonic secrets or do they welcome your unpacking of Mr. Brown's book?

Janet Kay Gallagher said...

Hi Simon
I went to the site and saw you have two covers on your book. I like the one shown here on Sleuth's Ink best.

Cait London said...

Since you're a Brit, you may not have our History channel. If you can get the documentary film about the Freemasons, you may find contrast pts to discuss in your book club talks. WA DC was mentioned and the pts laid out. Pretty interesting.

Best wishes on your book.

Beth said...

Well, we haven't yet heard from you and I'm assuming that's because of the time difference in Europe. We're all anxious to chat!

Shirley said...

Well, this is interesting. Maybe we should all check back tomorrow and see if our guest has stopped by.

Vicki Kennedy said...

Hi Simon,

I imagine there was a lot of reference material to wade through. Was it all fairly easy to find?

Janet Kay Gallagher said...

Wow Our Very Own Mystery!
The Case of the Mystery Blogger: Missing! Is there foul play or could he be out playing somewhere?
Grab your De-Coder Rings, Sherlock Holmes Hats and Magnifying Glasses and see if we can find him! "Simon Cox, where are you?" goes out the cry all over the land, better make that world...

Shirley said...

I agree, Jan. Definitely got ourselves a mystery here.

However, we were promised free books for two lucky people so the winners are:

Beth Carter and Vicki Kennedy.

Congratulations ladies. I'll send your addresses to Simon's publicist and she'll be mailing out the books.

Shirley said...

Vicki, I'll need you to email me your address. You can catch me at fictionrus@aol.com

RTHRBRTN said...

Mr. Cox: I am reviewing your book for Bookloons.com. All I'm going to say here is WOW! I'm impressed with all the research. Your books really makes the Lost Symbol more interesting and I will be reading it to the end this time. I teach a ladies Sunday School Class and the name Abaddon really jumped out at me. It is used in the book of Esther. I'll be looking for more of your books.

dragyn29 said...

Finally figured this out.

Simon Cox said...

Hello all. Firstly, my apologies for not showing up earlier. I am currently in LA and have picked up the dreaded flu - so aches, pains and sniffles have taken over.

Gosh, so many questions. OK, firstly, I had no prior knowledge of the new Dan Brown book - only the clues I had gleaned from comments, etc over the intervening years. I've never met Dan Brown in person, but have had communication with him several years ago for a magazine I used to edit. He has never commented on my books (four in all) about his work, as far as I can tell.

My research consisted of trawling through my extensive personal library first. All the book in the bibliography are ones that I own and used in the research. If I needed more information, I would then consult various online academic sources that I have access to (JSTOR etc), before any general internet searches. I'm still a bit old fashioned and like to refer to hard copy books first and foremost.

This book was written in ten days. Which meant that library visits were not possible - and neither was sleep! Lots of coffee was consumed. I used a research team - one that I use a lot - of people that I trust. They would be emailed subject headings and direction from myself and would then send back research papers based on these headings. I would then take this research and write entries based up it and research I had undertaken myself. For fast books like this, this is the only way to work.

I worked from midday through to 2am most days - sometime later. I prefer to use the mornings for reading and relaxing, then start work around 12 or 1pm.

I am currently working on a rather wonderful (if I do say so myself) novel. Its all a bit hush hush at the moment though. Needless to say, its historical based and uses the backdrop of Egypt as a main canvas. More info on this as I am allowed.

I'm sure there are more questions. I would be delighted to answer them as they come up. You can also contact me directly at: coxinvestigates@mac.com if you want a more personal dialogue.

Simon Cox

Simon Cox said...

PS - just to say that I love research. Writing for me is really a sideline from this. What I mean is that the art of finding things out is my real reason to be. I'm a historian, having studied Egyptology, Ancient History and Psychology at University. I like to turn history upside down and show its underbelly - to show that history is in many cases, simply wrong as taught to our children.

I love my job and hope to move into the visual media too soon - thats why I'm presently in LA.

Enjoy the Dan Brown book, and mine. It was fun to do.

Simon Cox

Patg said...

Great blog on a very interesting topic. Will put your website in my favorites. Major fan of Dan Brown, just because of those things that hit the things so many people hold to be undeniable and kicks it around the room. Love the fear factor it causes as reason sets in. Conspiracies! Some people wish!
Got your book in my wish list.