I’m a writer of crime fiction, thrillers mostly, and the creator of the Colton Parker series. Like a lot of writers who chronicle a single character, I can get easily bored and the writing often grows stale. I’ve seen in other’s work, and I’ve seen it in my own.
When my agent was approached by a publisher who wanted to work with me, they asked for a novel that had series potential. I was resistant to creating yet another character (Please don’t get me wrong. I love Colton Parker) but I wanted to develop something that had the potential to build a steady readership while giving me the opportunity to write different characters and different stories. Then, in a eureka moment, I had an idea.
The seed for The Sons of Jude were planted in the fall of 1986, long before I expressed any desire to write. I was living in the Chicago area and took the train to the city daily. I was running late that evening and had missed my train. While waiting for the next one, I stumbled onto the set of Brian DePalma’s The Untouchables. Kevin Costner and Andy Garcia were filming the climactic shootout scene and I promised myself I would watch the film when it was released. A few months later, while watching the movie, I heard Sean Connery’s character, Malone, mention that St. Jude is the patron saint of lost causes and policemen. Now I grew up in a family of cops, running on both sides of my family and extending as far back as the 1930s, and I had never heard that.
Spin forward to 2010.
I was asked to write a crime novel with series potential. I recalled hearing the line from the movie and began to research St. Jude. I learned that not only is he the patron saint of police officers, but of the Chicago police department specifically.
I had the idea.
I would write a series and would call it The Sons of Jude (the first novel in the series would bear the same name). The entire thrust of the series would be to illustrate how hopeless law enforcement can sometimes be. I wanted to follow Joseph Wambaugh’s adage of writing a story of how the job works on cops, rather than on how cops work on the job. I wanted to show how an arrest today doesn’t change a thing for tomorrow. And yet the arrest needs to be done and the law enforced if society is to hold together.
Because I come from a family of police officers, I truly believe that the thin blue line is all that stands between us and them; between your family and those who would do them harm. But being a cop isn’t easy. And as often as not, the challenges come from within; from unmotivated prosecutors, corrupt politicians, and other officers who would pervert the badge they wear.
We all watched in 2001 as police officers and other first responders risked their lives – some of them losing – to save others. They did this against overwhelming odds.
And that’s the story I wanted to capture.
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.