Born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, Brandt Dodson later choose to use the very same location as the setting for his ‘Colton Parker Mystery’ series. He had discovered in grade school that he wanted to be a writer, however he did not do anything about this desire until twenty-one years later when he would put pen to paper. Mr. Dodson says: “I knew in fifth grade that I wanted to be a writer. Our teacher had given each of us a photograph which we were to use as inspiration for a short story. The particular photo I was given was of several young men playing handball in New York City. I don’t remember all of the particulars of the story now, but I do remember the thrill that writing it gave me.”
Later, while attending college, one of Mr. Dodson’s teachers praised his talent of writing, thereby increasing his desire to become an author.
“But life intervened and I found myself working at a variety of jobs. I worked in the toy department of a local department store and fried chicken for a local fast food outlet. Over the course of the next several years I finished my college degree and worked for the Indianapolis office of the FBI, and served for eight years as a Naval Officer in the United States Naval Reserve. I also obtained my doctorate in Podiatric Medicine, and after completion of my surgical residency, opened my own practice. But I never forgot my first love. I wanted to write.”
During his early years in practice, Brandt began reading the work of Dean Koontz. Brandt Dodson goes on to say:
“I discovered Dean’s book, The Bad Place, and was completely blown away by his craftsmanship. I read something like 13 or 14 of his back list over the following two weeks. It wasn’t long after that I began to write and submit in earnest.”
Even though his passion and desire to write was strong, it would be another twelve years before Brandt Dodson was able to secure the publishing contract he so desperately desired.
“I began by writing the type of fiction that I enjoyed; I wrote edgy crime thrillers that were laced with liberal amounts of suspense. Over the years, I’ve begun to write increasingly more complex work by using broader canvases and themes.
Since securing his first contract, Brandt has continued to pen the type of stories that inspired him to write when he was a boy, and that have entertained his legions of readers.
“I love to write, and as long as others love to read, I plan on being around for a long time to come.”
Brandt Dodson’s latest book is the crime thriller The Sons of Jude.
Readers are encouraged to visit Brandt Dodson’s website to learn more about him and his work.
Could you please tell us a bit about your book? The story? The characters?
I write stories that dance on the thin line between right and wrong; good and evil. I was raised in a family of police officers and was once employed by the Indianapolis office of the FBI. Like most novelists, I dip into the well of my experience and filter it through my imagination. The end product, as often as not, is a crime story in which the dividing line is frequently crossed by both sides. Nevertheless, there is a line and it must be preserved if society is going to survive in a cohesive way. No one is above the law.
In The Sons of Jude, I wanted to write a story that reveals what it’s like to be a cop rather than what’s like to do the job of a cop. I’ve never understood the term ‘police procedural’. We don’t use that term with any other genre. Instead, I prefer Joseph Wambaugh’s approach of telling stories of how the job works on cops rather than how cops work on the job.
The Sons of Jude is about the challenges cops face and how they often come from within their own ranks. The novel revolves around three central characters: Frank Campello, a twenty-year veteran of the Chicago police department; Andy Polanski, a newly-minted detective who is transferred to Campello’s district after ratting on other cops; and Christy Lee, a local reporter with a grudge against the police. With a mix like that, conflict is inevitable. It was a lot of fun to write.
How did you come up with the title and how much say did you have on the cover design?
I used to live in the Chicago area and rode the train into the city every day. In the fall of 1986, I was in Union Station waiting for my train and I had an opportunity to watch the filming of the shootout scene that occurs between Kevin Costner and several of Al Capone’s henchmen in Brian DePalma’s The Untouchables. I promised myself that I would see the movie. So later, while watching the film, Sean Connery’s character, Malone, refers to St. Jude as the patron saint of lost causes and policemen. The line stuck with me and while completing research for The Sons of Jude, I learned that St. Jude is also the patron saint of the CPD.
I like the cover, and I’d like to take credit for it, but other than voicing my opinion that the first proposed design wasn’t appropriate, I had little influence. The cover matches the desperation of the characters and reveals the theme of the story. Plus it’s eye-catching and that’s always a good thing.
Do you have a favorite line or excerpt that you would like to share from your book?
My favorite line is on page 313. It reads: “The police will never win, and they will never lose. It’s a war that is fought one battle at a time.” It is a comment made by Andy Polanski during his realization that the work of a cop is never finished. An arrest made today does not change the landscape tomorrow. It’s a pivotal moment for him.
What are some of your favorite ways to promote your work?
I love meeting readers so anything that gives me a chance to see them, shake their hand, or sign a copy of the book, is gratifying. Unfortunately, I can’t meet everyone so the internet provides a unique opportunity whether it’s an interview like this, or answering questions on a live feed.
What is a typical writing day like for you?
I usually begin by reading a few words or a chapter of one of my favorite authors. Writers like Dean Koontz, Jack Higgins, Ken Follett and Dennis Lehane, to name a few, serve as inspiration. There are days when facing the keyboard is a bit daunting and reading before writing always seems to help grease the machinery. Then I’ll read the material I’ve written the previous day before beginning to plow new ground. I always try to stop writing when I’m in the flow. That’s the time when the book seems to be writing itself and I’m doing little more than transcribing what the muse is telling me. If I stop when I’m hot, it’s much easier to begin the next day.
What are some ways that you like to relax?
My wife and I love to travel. We’re doing much more of it so I relax by planning the next trip. But on a typical day, it’s enjoyable to watch the sun ris–or set–with a cup of coffee and a good book. I read a lot of biographies and history. I also enjoy reading some of the classics. They still stand up. Maybe that’s why they’re classics.
What author/s do you think are overlooked in the writing/reading world today?
There is a relatively new author, Alex Berenson, who writes spy thrillers, and although he has placed in the New York Times, I still don’t believe he’s gotten the play he’s due. He’s a very talented writer who can pull me into his story world as quickly as any anyone.
What author would you most like to meet and why?
Could I pick two?
I’d love to meet Beverly Cleary. She’s the single most significant influence on my desire to read. I discovered her Henry Huggins books when I was in third grade–the same age as Henry–and they opened a new world for me. I’ve been reading ever since.
And then there’s Dean Koontz. I read Dean’s The Bad Place in one sitting and was amazed at how deftly he got into the head of Thomas, the character with Down’s syndrome. Dean re-ignited my desire to write.
Do you have any upcoming projects that you would like to share with readers?
I’m currently working on Chicago Knights, the second in the ‘Sons of Jude’ series. It will feature the 28th district, referred to as the Castle in The Sons of Jude, but will have a different cast of characters as will all the books in the series. Characters in one novel may appear in minor, supporting roles in another. Nevertheless, like the late Ed McBain’s 87th precinct novels, readers will be able to follow their favorite characters throughout the series as they marry, transfer, or retire.
What is something about yourself that would come as a surprise to many people?
I’m developing a taste for horror fiction. I had the opportunity to meet the late J.N. Williamson, a renowned horror writer and fellow Hoosier, and have discovered some of the greats in the genre. I’m not big into the vampire thing, but a solid horror story–the kind that raises the hair on the back of my neck–is always a good find.