Dan Brown, The Lost Symbol, and Me

11/15/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

"Excuse me, Mr. Brown... I just want you to know... I've read all your books, and Angels and Demons is my favorite!" The wide-eyed woman shifted her weight anxiously. We were in the Upper East Side's Corner Bookstore, minutes before my nerve-addled, first-ever book reading. "I was wondering, how did you come up with...."

"Well..." I offered, gently cutting her off, my teeth clenched in friendly rejection. "I'm really sorry, but I didn't write those. That's another Dan Brown. My book is about being a rookie teacher in the Bronx."

She was undeterred. "I love that book." Her inflection left no doubt of her Dan Brown-inspired passion. We hung there for a long moment.

"That's a totally different guy."

Again, silence.

"But... what about The Da Vinci Code?"

I puckered my face again to express, "I would really like you to stay, but I understand that from your perspective I am innately disappointing." (All of that with a brow furrow.)

"Digital Fortress?" she tried again, hoping for a jackpot.



"I'm not that guy. Sorry."

The woman nodded, a little stunned. She slouched away and took a seat in the back -- though she later bought two copies of The Great Expectations School.

Since then, I've been asked if I'm "that Dan Brown" about nine thousand times. Brown's latest crypto-thriller, which is unleashed today, has brought with it a 50% uptick in alternately genuine and jokey questions for me.

Good luck on The Lost Symbol, Dan. And thanks for the memories.

Dan Brown is a teacher in Washington, DC, and the author of The Great Expectations School: A Rookie Year in the New Blackboard Jungle. He read The Da Vinci Code, but did not write it--- and he's okay with that.