Nothing is quite what it seems inside Dan Brown's sprawling stone mansion in New Hampshire. "Everything moves," the Da Vinci Code author says, chuckling as he pushes a mahogany bookshelf to reveal a secret passageway leading out to a sculpture garden. Down a nearby hall, he points to a portrait of a woman, gently presses the frame, and voilà: The wall rotates into a recording room, where the onetime songwriter still composes music. How many hidden alcoves are there? "Six that we admit to," he says. Describing the house, his editor and friend Jason Kaufman says, "It's like stepping into the pages of a Dan Brown novel."
That's what Brown, 48, had in mind when he and his wife, Blythe, 60, a painter, spent six years expanding and renovating the former hunting lodge they'd bought a few weeks before The Da Vinci Code
was published in 2003. "We designed everything ourselves. This would be a house where Robert Langdon lives," says Brown, referring to the Harvard professor of symbology who's the hero of the megaselling Code and three other Brown novels, including his latest, Inferno, out this month. Along with the hidden passageways, which delight his two young nephews ("They get lost in here!"), there are codes and symbols everywhere. Even the stones in his driveway, Brown confesses, "are laid out according to the Golden Ratio." And lest he forget the fans who made it all possible, there's a bookcase in the library that holds one copy of each of his books from around the world - in 52 languages. "We call it," he says, "the Fortress of Gratitude."