3rd May 2006
Congratulations on the whole movie thing. I bet after Angels and Demons/ Digital Fortress bombed you never thought you'd be a household name like Grisham. Quite a bonus for someone who started out simply wanting to "challenge long-held beliefs about religion". Since I am hoping that you are true to your roots, I have an idea for a big project that would be right up your alley.
You’ve proved that "research" is as simple as reading someone else’s conspiracy theory book, then uncritically accepting it when it suits your idea. No pesky cross referencing at the library, no consulting qualified peer-reviewed documents, with all their long papers and big words, no interviewing experts in the field. Nope, just snip, lift, paste, paraphrase a little, and it's yours. Heh heh, I like the line that your "expert historian" character Leigh Teabing says about Christianity being "the greatest story ever sold". Wasn't that the name of one such book you used?
Sure, the authors of these earlier books may get a little jumpy about that little thing called "plagiarism". But they know if you pull it all off successfully, their old books get dusted off and put right back on the shelves! Complete with fancy new covers and catch phrases like "before The Da Vinci Code, there was…". They love it, really. Their publishers won’t admit it though.
Nobody cares that both secular and Christian scholars totally debunked these conspiracy theories. Heck, that was 20 years ago. Nobody remembers them in the first place. That’s the whole point. It’s like milking a dead cow! It’s like repeatedly selling the same stories to people with Alzheimer’s disease!
So your claimed "facts" are nothing more than wild, baseless church-bashing speculation designed to generate publicity. Even if your fans find this out (fat chance), it’s still not the end of your intellectual reputation. Not by a long shot. If you’re ever confronted by that annoying reality of evidence, you can simply launch into the good old "what is Truth?" cliché (Pontius Pilate said it- that is, if he really existed). Dazzle everyone with philosophical semantics about truth being relative, the need to challenge accepted history regardless of the verifiable it is, and lament that you are simply trying to further wisdom and enlightenment, and so on.
Nope. You'll never have to answer to anyone, not even the real people and organisations affected by the slanderous inferences of your "fiction". We live in such a secular society. Everyone loves a good Jesus-bashing anti-establishment conspiracy theory. Besides, now that it's a movie you can just stay hidden away and let Ron Howard and Tom Hanks explain to the masses how the story isn't really offensive to Christians or Catholics. Artists are so good at making things look right even when they're just plain wrong.
Sorry to digress. So I have a project that I reckon will be a pushover for you. It involves hardly any research whatsoever. And I’m sure it will get massive publicity and make you even more money.
When it comes to fabricated, covered-up religious claims made by one person, to mislead and indoctrinate people and create wealth and power, look no further than ISLAM.
Okay, you wouldn’t be the first to write the horrifying legacy of Mohamed into a juicy "fiction based on facts" story. But then you weren’t the first to do that to the Leonardo thing either…just ask Lewis Perdue, author of 1983 "The Da Vinci Legacy" (yep, he made the same mistake as you with the artists’ proper name…but "The Leonardo Legacy" just sounds all wrong, doesn't it? ). Bad luck to him. You’re the one who made it a success, cashed in, and warded off those pesky plagiarism charges.
Well, now you can do exactly the same to the story of Mohamed and his army of poor, mislead followers. All 1.3 billion of them. How’s THAT for publicity?
Now, unlike your previous project, you don’t need to read, blithely accept and selectively pluck bits from a heap of existing, unoriginal conspiracy theories (or "plausible hypotheses" as your mate Michael Baigent likes to call them, since he can’t call it fiction, and can’t call it fact!). Oh no. Everything you need to piece together "possibly the biggest cover-up of our time" is IN THE KORAN and OFFICIAL ISLAMIC WRITINGS themselves!
Sure, there is a little chronological re-ordering to do, but from these very sources (verified by the religion of Islam itself) you will find out that;
- There is substantial evidence Mohamed was neglected, abused and molested as a child, subsequently becoming the abuser himself
- Mo was rejected by his mother and the women who were his unpaid carers, hence his, and Islam’s treatment of women
- Mo’s uncle was involved in profitable religious scams and cut him out of the inheritance, making Mo crave power and revenge
- "Allah" is not Arabic for "God", as Mo claimed to try and seduce Jews and Christians, but is actually one of 360 Arabic pagan gods. Indeed, earlier "revelations" from Mo named his magic God as Ar-Raman, an early Yemeni pagan idol.
- The illiterate Mo had to get third-hand accounts of the Torah and Bible to sound like a prophet, and needless to say he butchered them almost as badly as he butchered thousands of people
- Mo made up Islam as he went along, usually to justify some current lust or craving for booty, blood or slap and tickle.
- Mo suppressed people who spoke out against him, such as many poets of the time, by killing them. Much cheaper than advertising.
- The modern behaviour of terrorists is perfectly in sync with the legacy of Mo and Islamic teachings, not actually a "hijacking of peaceful Islam", as so many immams and politically-correct world leaders keep telling us.
And that's just a snippet. Just about every page of these documents (I use the word "documents" because it sounds more like there's a cover-up) is crying out to be exposed. Just waiting for a hero like you to "free the world to see the truth". Sorry to pinch a line from the Leonardo story. I hope I got it right. It might have been "The truth should be free", or was it "free the world from the burden of becoming properly informed about Christianity". Oh, by the way, I only have one problem with that line...the "truth" wasn't free. The hardcover edition cost me $24.95 (yet people have offered to GIVE me the gospels for NOTHING. What's up with that?)
Now Dan, when you are, ahem, "researching" all this, be sure and use older versions of the Q’uran and Hadiths, like Sirat Rasul Allah Bukhari and Sahih Al-Bukhari and Ishaq. Recent Muslim scholars have changed some bits, especially the bits that portray Mo’s atrocious behaviour, or the true meaning of "Jihad", or references to the true pagan identities of his "God", and lots of other stuff. A "cover up", you might say! Funnily enough they haven’t covered up the bit about Mo marrying a six year old girl. Maybe they figured it wasn’t so bad. After all, he didn’t consummate the marriage until she was nine. Wouldn't we call that paedophilia? Juicy stuff, huh?
Really, what better epic could there be than the illiterate Arabian camel-herder, abused and neglected as a child, hungry for revenge, power and boobies. He rustles up a massive following by pretending to be a prophet whilst not actually prophesying anything at all. All the ingredients are there- marrying into money, buying support, winning over uneducated, illiterate tribes with constantly changing divine "revelations", or just killing those that didn’t believe him. Maybe you can have Robert Langdon discovering all of this by reading a Koran in his hotel room whilst catching some rays in the Saudi Arabian desert.
You can impress readers with more "impeccable research", as the NY Times said of the Leonardo Code (I wonder…who researches the New York Times?). You’ll need to get into some history books on pre-Islamic Arabic culture to demonstrate how violent conquest only emerged post-Mohamed. Okay, so I lied- there may be a little research involved, but not much. If it does get too much for you, just do what you did with poor old Lewis Perdue. Look up guys who've already done all this- one is Craig Winn and he wrote some books which you’d find useful. His website is http://www.prophetofdoom.net/. There are many others, but why strain yourself?
Let’s face it, with all the terrorism these days, and coupled with your new-found popularity it’s a sure thing that you’d get bags of publicity. I know you’ve already succeeded in convincing everyone that the worst religious extremists out there are albino Catholic assasin monks, but remember those guys who flew those planes into those buildings (I mean in real life)? I don't think they were Southern Baptists. But I could be wrong. After all, what is Truth?
Yep, the whole world would flock to buy it. You could even write it with no plot or character development whatsoever and they’d still flock. Not that you did that with the Leonardo Code, of course. It sold purely on merit, not publicity.
And then...the movie! You would be the first to have a story that places Muslims smack bang in the middle of a nasty scandal. Nobody's done it yet. Well, I heard about some Dutch fellow making a film portraying Muslims mistreatment of women. But it couldn't have been that good, because nobody has seen or heard from the guy since. There was that movie "The Sum of all Fears" in which terrorists detonate a nuclear bomb in America. The book had them as Islamic terrorists, but Hollywood changed it to Neo-Nazis and South Africans so as not to offend Muslims! When will they ever learn that any publicity is good publicity? Even the Jewish Steven Speilberg pacified that whole "Munich" thing and portrayed the Jews and Muslims as equally culpable, over that real-life incident of Muslim terrorists killing Jewish athletes. To use Muslims as the token bad-guy would make you a pioneer!
After all, you said you wanted to "challenge long-held beliefs about religion". I reckon that’s a great idea. You’re not going to stop with Christianity, are you? You’re certainly not worried about offending people. In fact, that’s the modus operandi of any true writer- if all other publicity fails, offend someone (preferably someone who doesn't fight back, ). What’s the difference between offending Christians and Muslims? It’s all "religion", after all.
Don’t worry, I won’t expect royalties or intellectual property fees. It’s all yours if you want it. Even if I do have a change of heart later and sue you, think of the publicity.
Yours in conspiracy