A Spanish author's entry into the U.S. market uses a proven code.

Is The Secret Supper (Reviews, Jan. 2) the new Da Vinci Code?

Well, the two have one thing in common: both were written as page-turners. But that's all. My book is set in 15th-century Italy, and features Leonardo as a living character. My intention was to bring the reader into Leonardo's mind at the time when he was finishing The Last Supper. I read Dan Brown's bestseller after I had written The Secret Supper—I feel that his book was almost unfinished. I believe that those who enjoyed the Code but were waiting for "something more" will enjoy my "Secret." I offer them a new approach to Leonardo's art, a more complete one. In that sense, my book is closer to Eco's The Name of the Rose than to The Da Vinci Code.

You've worked as a journalist and have written nonfiction books, so why did you write this book as a novel?

All my previous nonfiction books were about historical or scientific mysteries. In those books, I did my best to reveal unexplained facts to my readers, but I could not propose the answers to those mysteries without entering the treacherous field of speculation. With literature, things are different: I can use facts as a basis and my imagination to explain those unsolved mysteries that historians cannot clarify.

There's plenty of intrigue out there today; why go the historical route?

Researching historical mysteries allows me more freedom and independence of thought, and to search for my own answers. But, as some Eastern mystics have stated, the most important thing here is the very act of searching for the truth, not the truth itself, because it is impossible, and always dangerous, to reach an absolute truth.

What are you working on now?

A nonfiction book about the discovery of America. This will sound strange from a Spanish writer, but I am convinced that Christopher Columbus was not the first European to arrive in America. He reached the New World in 1492 using old maps and "privileged information" from explorers who arrived long before the 15th century. But at the same time, I'm studying Jewish history to prepare for a future novel.