The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown and/or Daughter of God by Lewis Perdue

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Two books were selected this month because the author of Daughter of God is claiming that some of the research and plot points in the best-selling DaVinci Code were plagiarized from his novel. Both books involve a religious secret hidden by the Catholic Church for centuries. Perdue’s novel is a traditional thriller, with gun fights, explosions and an Indiana Jones type trek though an abandoned salt mine. Brown’s book is also a page turner, which features a series of puzzles and hidden codes – deciphered by the protagonists at convenient intervals through the novel.

What the Armchair Critics Thought:
While the overall themes were of a similar nature, we thought the plot and characters were probably different enough to make a plagiarism charge difficult to prove. (The previous case of plagiarism we discussed: L.M. Montgomery’s The Blue Castle and Colleen McCullough’s The Ladies of Missaloughi was very clear cut.) It will be very interesting to follow the media coverage of this issue in coming years.

There was a mix of opinion about the two books – some preferred one and some the other. Both had fast-moving, intriguing plotlines and were hard to put down. We all enjoyed the puzzles in Brown’s book although felt that his conspiracy theories require a healthy dose of skepticism. Brown’s protagonists were compared to Energizer Bunnies as they never seemed to eat or sleep. We also felt that the violent scenes in Perdue’s book were described in more detailed than strictly necessary.

Interview with Lewis Perdue

We were excited to have Lewis Perdue contact our web site and offer to phone in during our February meeting. The following is a summary of our very pleasant chat with the author:

Can you tell us anything about the plagiarism issue?
A forensic linguist in the UK has been analysing the “DaVinci Code” along with my previously published books “Daughter of God” and the “DaVinci Legacy”. Some interesting correlations have been identified, including a research error in one of the original books which also appears in Brown’s book. I have 3 years from the point of infringement to decide whether to bring charges. I have decided to put the issue off for a year and concentrate on my writing. However the forensic report will be made public in the next year.

What message did you want people to take away from “Daughter of God”?
I wanted to draw the comparison between faith and the bureaucracy and power plays that can arise from formalized religion. Secondly I wanted to show how organized religion can work to disenfranchise those who are different from the people who make the rules. For example, the Book of Proverbs is clearly written the voice of a woman and is one of the few parts of the Bible from which this female voice has not been removed. Finally I wanted to illustrate that people can still have faith in a greater power even if they recognize that there are some problems with their religion. Just because the rope that keeps you from falling off the cliff is frayed, you don’t let go of it.

Are you currently working on another book with a religious theme?
My latest working title is “Perfect Killers” and is centred around the armed forces and the theme of where human consciousness lies.

Why does Daughter of God have such a high body count?
Actually the number of killings in my books has been decreasing over time. When I first began writing, dead bodies were very much part of the action genre. However, I do think you need a certain amount of violence in any thriller in order to establish that there are some consequences for the hero or heroine -to raise the stakes for them.

Why didn’t you do more with Zoe’s ability to hear colours as music? This was a really intriguing part of the novel and we were wondering if it was a real phenomenon?
In retrospect, I wish that I had expanded upon her ability. Synaesthesia is an actual condition and it is hypothesized that this may be the way babies perceive the world before their brains are hardwired.

Do you have any trouble writing female characters?
Not at all because I grew up in a household with my mother and sister and I also have several female friends who will tell me if something isn’t realistic. For example, one of my heroines was a very tall athletic woman and my friends explained that she would have trouble finding clothes to fit. My books always include strong female characters.

We really enjoyed the way Zoe was able to escape from her cell.
Thank you. I had to do a lot of walking to figure that out. I didn’t want any damsel in distress rescue -she had to get herself out of there.

What is your working routine?
I get up at 5am and do 3 hours of writing and editing in a small shed behind my house. No phones and no distractions. This ensures I am not disturbed by left brain thinking because once that happens, my right brain doesn’t create as well. I also have an office in my house where I do research, make calls and storyboard my ideas. I go for long walks in the surrounding parks and fields where I just let my subconscious work things out. I usually don’t know how my books will end because writing a novel is like running a marathon -if you think about how hard it’s going to be to finish, then you’ll never start. I generally write about 5 pages per day at the beginning of a book, but this starts to speed up when the end comes into view.

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