The Sons of Jude – author interview – Brandt Dodson

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About the Book:

The Sons of Jude Book Tour

When Chicago detectives Frank Campello and Andy Polanski are assigned to investigate the murder of Trina Martinez it seems like an ordinary homicide. An unfortunate young girl in the wrong place at the wrong time has been brutally murdered. But their investigation is halted by a wall of silence, a wall erected by powerful interests that will render their inquiry a lost cause.

Then they enlist the support of reporter Christy Lee – and come under immediate fire. Polanski is arrested. Campello threatened. Christy is attacked.

It’s the case that every cop gets. The one that changes his life. The one where justice is elusive and the hunter becomes the hunted.

Frank Campello and Andy Polanski are The Sons of Jude.

Book Trailer Link:


Q:  Do you write on a computer or with pen/pencil and paper?

Technology is wonderful, isn’t it? The fact is, I wrote my first novel, Original Sin, with a pen and a legal pad. It was a ball point – a Gel pen, no less, which you could probably consider advanced technology when compared to the quill that Poe used to pen The Raven.

I’ve used a variety of different means. For the most part, I write on a computer which allows me the freedom to edit as I go. That’s a good thing since it engenders a cleaner manuscript, but it also has a negative side because it allows me to edit the first page far too many times, preventing me from moving on to the next. It also lets me do all the other things I’d rather not be doing when writing, but which seem to beckon me with the Siren’s call nonetheless. Things like: checking email, visiting Amazon, doing “research” (I can classify anything as research), or even checking YouTube. When I find myself doing those things, I shut the machine down and go back to the tried and true – a gel pen and pad.

Like most writers of my generation, I began with a typewriter. It was a 1920s-something, cast iron Remington, and I went through reams of paper trying to get the manuscript as error-free as possible. From there I graduated to a portable electric typewriter – the student model manufactured by Brothers – and eventually to a small, dedicated word processor that had a 4 inch by 6 inch screen. Those were the dark years; the learning years. But when I finally broke through, it was with a novel written with pen and pad. That’s still my preferred method. It makes me think before I write and the flow of energy from brain to hand is unhindered by technology.

Q:  Do you work from an outline?

I wish I could. It would save me a tremendous amount of re-writing.

I recently read the autobiography of the late Tony Hillerman, who was also a dedicated “pantser” (someone who writes by the seat-of-their-pants rather than outlines) and he talked about the endless re-writes he often had to do as a result.

In my latest work, The Sons of Jude, I attempted to outline and was able to do this for most of the novel, but it was exceedingly difficult for me. Part of the fun of writing, is learning the outcome of the story in the same manner as my readers. I enjoy the discovery. If I outline, I lose some of the spontaneity and the story becomes stale rather quickly. Still, there is an upside to outlining. You can catch the flaws early and that can save a tremendous amount of time. I know many writers who prefer one method or the other and who will never agree with each other. This is art. To each his own.

Q:  Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Given the fact that I’m not an outliner, you would think that I’ve lived my entire life as a “pantser”. But I’m a stringent planner when it comes to my personal life. Even as a boy, I had great plans for my future that were carefully thought out and which I intended to follow. In most cases, I have. But the Bible tells us that God laughs at the plans of men, and He’s done that a few times with me. My life has not always gone the way I envisioned. Thank God it hasn’t. I didn’t know myself as well as I thought and would’ve been miserable if all my plans had come to fruition.

Ten years from now? I plan to be writing full-time, telling the kind of stories I’d like to tell and doing it with a level of craft I have yet to achieve. When I was first starting, I would write short stories and submit them, only to receive them back with a rejection letter in what had to be record time. It seemed like I had just dropped them in the mailbox before I was receiving the rejection. I knew I wasn’t good enough. So, rather than continuing to submit poorly written stories, I started to take time off to learn the craft. When I thought I had improved, I would re-submit. I was still rejected, but the denials were less caustic. Now, I can read authors who are doing well and know that I’m at least on their level in terms of craft. But there are others, like Ken Follett for example, and I wonder if I’ll ever be able to write at their level. Nevertheless, I will continue to work. Time will tell.

Q:  What’s next for you?

I’m working on the sequel to The Sons of Jude. It will be titled: Chicago Knights and will feature the same district of the Chicago Police department, but a different cast of characters. Like the late Ed McBain, I’m writing a police series that features a district, rather than a single character. Readers who enjoyed following Frank Campello in The Sons of Jude will enjoy following his life throughout the series. But he will play a minor role from time to time. That gives readers the continuity they look for while keeping it fresh for me.

Beyond that, I have a wide range of fictional interests. I’d like to write a fantasy novel, a straight suspense novel, a horror novel, and a historical thriller. Those are brewing in the back of my mind.

Q:  Do you have a writer’s studio? Describe it for us and what is the view you see from the window?

When I first started writing seriously – with the intent to publish – I began by writing on our kitchen table after dinner. Today, I write in a dedicated room of our house. My writing room (I refer to it as The Batcave – how original is that?) is located at the front of our house and measure approximately 15 feet by 15 feet. It has a large window that looks out onto the house across the street and two folding French-style doors that separate it from the living room. I have a small couch on which I do my thinking (and napping) with two end tables and lamps. There is a desk with computer at one end and a row of book cases that house hundreds and hundreds of books, including each edition of my previous titles. My wife and I have looked for paintings and other artifacts that denote the room as a writer’s den and we have those on the walls as well.

The room is painted a dark red and furnished with red-leather chairs. It is comfortable and gives me the freedom to pace, read, or write as needed. And best of all, it’s at home. No commute.

Q:  Who or what was your greatest influence that made you want to be a writer/author?

My mother would take me to the public library when I was a kid (we didn’t have a television) and I would read all of the Beverly Cleary books I could find. I was partial to Henry Huggins, and read all of the series several times over. I was the same age as the character and could relate to his adventures. I found such pleasure in her work that I think this is about the time I decided I would like to try writing someday. Note that I said, try writing. It was many years later before I made the commitment to become a published writer.

Later, as I outgrew Henry Huggins, I began reading Ian Fleming’s James Bond. I started with You Only Live Twice and ran right through the series. So Beverly Cleary and Ian Fleming had an early influence, but it was Dean Koontz who pushed me over the top.

I am a Podiatrist and had just opened my own practice. It is no secret that patients do not beat a path to the door of the new doctor in town, so I had a lot of time on my hands. One day, I drove to the local mall and went into a B. Dalton’s (remember those?) and found a copy of Dean’s latest novel The Bad Place in paperback. It had been a long time since I had read a novel for pleasure and I decided to buy the book. I had never heard of Dean, but I liked the foil cover embossed with his name and the first paragraph was compelling. I took the book back to my office, put my feet up on my desk, and read the entire novel in one sitting. I was absolutely blown away by Koontz’ ability to get into the head of Thomas, a character with Down’s syndrome. Dean’s book, coupled with the encouragement of a high school teacher and a creative writing teacher in college, sealed the deal. I knew I’d never be happy if I didn’t write, so I made the commitment to see it through.

The Sons of Jude blog Tour Information:

About the Author:

Brandt Dodson was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, which he would later choose as the setting for his Colton Parker Mystery series. Although he discovered in grade school that he wanted to be a writer, it would be another twenty-one years before he would put pen to paper.“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 in college, one of Brandt’s professors would echo that teacher’s comment.

“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.

“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.”

Still, it would be another twelve years before Brandt 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.

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