A quick glance at the Dan Brown Twitter and Facebook pages this week reveals not so much a new clue as a competition. Accordingly we are all invited to submit our own Caesar Ciphers in order to get some kind of free copy of The Lost Symbol. No mention of whether it's a signed copy or a limited edition though.
At the bottom of this blog is my own Caesar Cipher. Can you decode it?
So what exactly is a Caesar Cipher? Well, it's a relatively simple substitution cipher that was supposedly used by Roman Emperor, Julius Caesar - hence the name. Caesar reputedly used the cipher to protect military messages going to and from his generals. You can find more about the cipher at its Wikipedia page here. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caesar_cipher)
Just like Angels and Demons, and The Da Vinci Code after it, the use of codes and ciphers will play a big role in The Lost Symbol it would seem - though I suspect that the cryptex will not be revived for this book! Already speculation is high as to the meaning of various codes and ciphers that have been hinted at so far. Indeed, there has even been an 'official' Lost Symbol puzzle game running over at www.gather.com with the theme being Women in History. Wonder where we have heard that one before? Players of the game have to sign up to Gather to play and the prize is a signed copy of The Da Vinci Code. The answers to each of the five days of puzzles have now become clues in their own right. George Eliot (really Mary Anne Evans under a pseudonym), Cleopatra (one assumes the famous Cleopatra the seventh of Egypt), Catherine The Great, Boudica, and Artemisa Gentileschi (an Italian early Baroque female painter), are all puzzle answers and now become new clues as to the content of the finished book.
Its interesting to note that the digital e-book edition of The Lost Symbol will be released on the same day as the print edition. I've felt for a little while now that the era of the e-book is about to take off, and maybe The Lost Symbol is the catalyst that the market needs to be a success. In the UK, one chain of booksellers are even giving a free digital copy of The Lost Symbol with all purchased units of a certain new e-reader. Of course digital e-books won't be the death knell for traditional print media, just like the iPod hasn't killed CD sales and CDs in turn didn't kill off vinyl (which, funnily enough is seeing a resurgence of sales). However, it may well see the marketing and production of books change and as an author, the possibilities have me excited and raring to produce some digital content.
Here at Decoding HQ in the UK, things are progressing well. I have stacks of books everywhere, with tunnels and sitting areas cut into them - my front room is that crowded with material! I'm starting to get through a lot of background research now and its all very interesting stuff indeed. If only a fraction of the rumors are true about what some of the 'killer' content may be in The Lost Symbol, it will be a fantastic ride - though once again, I think that Dan Brown will be keeping a low profile after publication - not everyone will be enamored with his brand of history re-shaping again. I've had confirmation that my Decoding The Lost Symbol will be released in the US on November 3rd by Touchstone Fireside/Simon & Schuster and available here at Barnes & Noble on that date (or even for pre-order if you are feeling warm and fluffy towards me - or related!).
This coming Monday (a holiday on both sides of the Atlantic) I will start my wring in earnest. I'll keep this blog abreast of the progress and try and let you all see what a mega quick book feels like to write - it's a rush - like a rollercoaster ride through a library. Have a great week and holiday weekend.
Oh yes, that Caesar Cipher. Here it is. Good luck.
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