TODAY   |  May 14, 2013

Dan Brown: ‘I love to use action to propel plot’

TODAY’s Matt Lauer and bestselling author Dan Brown discuss the author’s newest book, “Inferno,” and take a tour of Brown’s library, which he calls “the fortress of gratitude.”

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> the author himself, dan brown , i had the rare opportunity to sit down with him in his miami in new hampshire . take a look. in his home in new hampshire .

>> so grim and terrifying.

>> dante 's decent into hell, demons and grotesque monsters, satan and a hole lot of pain. this 14th century classic is a perfect fit for one of the 21st centuries most successful authors.

>> langdon is back, cracking codes, going through museums, checking out master pieces. he's getting chased a lot.

>> he has that tendency.

>> sometimes i don't know who's chasing him. why do you love the action of this intellectual guy, thinker also running for his life half the time?

>> as dante does so well in "inferno" moving down to the levels, i love to use action to propel plot.

>> reporter: with "inferno" robert langdon returns to familiar territory, back in italy, this time in florence solving clues of great works of art from the renaissance, trying to stop an evil villain who threatens mankind.

>> dan, the villain in this book is a transhumanist. i'll be honest with you, i googled it. for people who haven't, what is a transhumanist?

>> the ethics and science of using things like biological and genetic engineering to transform our bodies and make us a more powerful species.

>> reporter: brown says it is a controversial science he's been interested in for years. not shying away from further controversy, brown's villain also fears a growing world population .

>> in the last 85 years, our population has tripled. we add 200,000 new people everyday. in this novel, the villain is concerned about this and he's also a dante fanatic. some of his visions of the future pair rallel dante 's visions of hell.

>> reporter: the author took many trips researching the book to florence and culture of secrets.

>> we came up the stairs and can we get out this way.

>> reporter: in one trip, brown slipped unnoticed into dante 's church. legend has it beatrice is buried there, donte's muse and unrequited love . it is tradition to leave letters at her tomb, seeking help with romance.

>> my unrequited love was really to write this novel. did write a note, singing the muse and telling a story of a man versed in symbols.

>> i immediately recognized it from "homer."

>> it was homer saying, i have to write the odyssey. sing a muse and help me tell the story. i wrote a similar note and put it in there and a year and a half later had a novel. who knows, it's magic.

>> reporter: when brown returns home, it's to place a lot like his novels. we got a rare glimpse into the private home of dan brown . his new hampshire home was built with secret doors and passageways at every turn.

>> you will find me behind this painting.

>> how do you get behind the painting?

>> very complicated. come here and press right here. a dan brown secret passageway .

>> a secret passageway . at 7:00 a.m . when i'm working i choose to work in here.

>> brown calls his library a place that holds books with more than 50 secret languages.

>> i need about four or five secret passageways . in this one goes outside. here, i'll show you.

>> this is great.

>> everyday when he finishes writing, brown plays the piano.

>> i stop and i play whatever. i play just improvise something.

>> that's not chopsticks. that's pretty good. is this one of your other passions?

>> this is definitely one of my other passions.

>> as passionate about masterpieces of music as he is about literature and art. now, this master of thrillers releases his sixth novel. he says he has ideas for at least a dozen more.

>> how far along are you on the next one?

>> i am nowhere on the next one. i'm exhausted and just spent three years in hell, as they say, literally in hell and i'm exhaling a little bit. this is apparently how i exhale.

>> he's an intense guy. fascinating. very interesting guy and that home is a surprise at every tur turn.

>> were you feeling intimidated when he sits down and playing the piano like that, crazy!

>> i thought he would hammer something out like an old beatles song. the guy goes crazy.

>> not that he needs more to do. he could go on tour reading and playing piano.

>> you talk about when he releases the book. he will appear at avery fisher hall at lincoln center tomorrow night. 2,000 people are coming from around the country just to listen to him talk.

>> you know what i learned this morning, dante really loved beatrice, kind of how you love hashbrowns, because you devastated this plate of hashbrowns.

>> there's one left. i was going to say, al had a half of one. these are great, thanks to whoever went and got these. dan brown 's "inferno is out today.