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.
Visit Brandt Dodson’s website at www.brandtdodson.com.
I believe the law keeps us functioning as a civilized society. I’ve long been frustrated with corrupt politicians who subvert our laws for their own gain while pretending to be leaders in the fight to protect the rest of us. That frustration was a strong motivator to write The Sons of Jude, and I’ve learned that such motivation isn’t all that unusual.
Most writers will write out of a need to address some inner issue or anxiety. Stephen King has said his writing is a way of dealing with his own fears, and the work of Dean Koontz often deals with broken people – people who face some unusual challenge – who rise to the occasion to defeat their nemesis and realize their dreams. This was the pattern in Dean’s life as he fought to overcome an alcoholic father. In my case, I’ve been stymied more than once by politicians on some level or other – public or corporate – and have come to view most politicians as people who would not succeed in any endeavor if their success depended on merit or ability. This is why they play the game. This type of public corrosion is no more evident than it is in law enforcement. Good cops not only have to fight the criminals who threaten us, but the corrupt judges and politicians that manipulate the system as well. That is a story that needed to be told, and it needed to be toldin the way I wanted to tell it.
What was the experience like writing The Sons of Jude?
Cathartic. I was able to tackle some of the demons I’ve wrestled with and defeat them in a way that was satisfactory. But I also was able to leave the door open for round two. The battle against corruption – a battle that good cops fight every day – is never fully won and I wanted to illustrate that in an entertaining way. The last chapter was fun to write because it leaves the door open – just a crack – for what is to come throughout the series. I’ve referenced Stephen King once already, but I’d like to do it again. In an interview about Salem’s Lot, King said he felt the best stories derived their power from the fact that it could happen again. I agree.
Where did the title come from?
I was living in Chicago in the 80s and stumbled onto the set of Brian DePalma’s The Untouchables one evening while waiting for a train at Union Station. Kevin Costner and Andy Garcia were filming the climactic shootout scene that occurs near the end of film. Having watched the filming, I promised myself I’d see the movie when it was released. Early into the film, Sean Connery’s character, Malone, mentions that St. Jude is the patron saint of lost causes and police officers. That bit of information stuck with me and during my early research for the book, I also learned that he is the patron saint of the Chicago Police department.
There is a war on our streets as certainly as there is a war on the front lines of Afghanistan. Most cops recognize they will never win the war. As long as there are people who believe that our laws apply to others but not to themselves, or as long as enough people feel that a certain law is wrong or they simply don’t want to obey it, the war between those of us who want a civilized society and those who feel they can live as they choose will go on. Nevertheless, police officers in towns and cities all across the country pin on their badge and go to work knowing they may die while trying to enforce the laws we say we want. To fight a war you know you can’t win – only maintain – takes a great deal of courage.
Can you tell us more about your main characters, Frank Campello and Andy Polanski?
Frank Campello and Andy Polanski are polar opposites. Frank is a cop’s cop. He’s a 20 year veteran of the Chicago Police department, as was his father, and has risen through the ranks. He’s earned the respect of all who know him, and his loyalty to his brothers and sisters in blue is unquestioned. Faithfulness to his fellow cops is a code he lives by. It’s part of his inner core.
Enter Andy Polanski.
Polanski is everything that Campello isn’t. The son of a disgraced cop, Andy is motivated by being everything his father wasn’t. He goes by the book and expects others to do the same. He is not a team player, holds everyone to his high standards, and will not tolerate flexibility in the rules. Consequently, he is despised by all who know him, and is the frequent target of taunts and attacks. His inflexiblemorality is his inner core.
Are there any supporting characters we need to know about?
Christy Lee is an investigative reporter with a local newspaper and has an axe to grind with the police. When Polanski rats out other cops and triggers a series of riots, she desperately tries to corner him for an interview. She is motivated by personal issues, rather than by journalistic interests, and is blind to this short coming. It threatens to destroy her career.She sees Frank Campello as the very symbol of all that is wrong with the Chicago Police department; a true Neanderthal and a throw-back to the stone-age. Nevertheless, she is attracted to him despite herself.
Can you open to page 25 and tell us what’s happening?
Page 25 closes the third chapter. We see that Christy has arrived at the opening crime scene, bent on priming Campello and his new partner for information. Campello has closed his investigation of the scene and is about to leave to pursue a lead. He tells Polanski to catch a ride back to 28th district headquarters and is doing this for two reasons. First, he views Polanski as a turncoat and doesn’t want to work with him or even ride in the same car. Second, he figures if he throws Polanski to the wolves – in this case, investigative reporter Christy Lee – he will say something he shouldn’t and will be punished by the department, clearing the way for Campello to acquire a new partner. One he can work with. It’s a very self-serving scene.
What about page 65?
This is the opening page for chapter 13 and takes place in Peter Green’s office at Green’s Warehouse and Distribution center. Polanski has developed a connection between Trina Martinez, the young girl who is a murder victim, and Peter Green, manager of the warehouse and son of a powerful Alderman who is also the greatest political benefactor of the CPD. Polanski knows he’s treading on some dangerous ground and stepping on some powerful toes. What he doesn’t know is that his interview of Peter Green is also going to infuse new tension into his working relationship with Campello, bringing it to a climax.
Now that The Sons of Jude has been published, what’s your next project?
I’m working on Chicago Knights, the next in the Sons of Jude series. This book will take place in the 28th district (a fictional district within the CPD and referred to in the series as “The Castle”) and will feature some of the characters from The Sons of Jude in minor roles. This keeps the story fresh with new and interesting characters while allowing readers to follow previous ones as they marry, die, promote or retire.
Do you have anything you’d like to tell our readers?
This novel is a bit different than my Colton Parker series with fewer attempts at humor and a higher level of suspense that is driven by high stakes. I hope they enjoy it and it is available in Ebook formats as well. I’m always interested in hearing from my readers and can be reached through my website:
www.brandtdodson.com or on my facebook and twitter accounts.