Thursday, November 30, 2006

Author Spotlight: Brandt Dodson

Brandt Dodson has breathed new life into the classic Private Investigator formula with his Colton Parker Mystery series, and added a dash of hope.

In the first book of the series, Original Sin, Dodson introduces us to Colton Parker, a former FBI agent turned P.I. Colton’s life spiraled downhill six months previously when he lost his job at the FBI, his wife died, and his teenage daughter went to live with her grandparents. Now struggling to keep afloat financially, Colton’s first client arrives at his office. But this case is anything but straight forward. The client’s boyfriend is accused of murdering a local school guidance counselor, who also happens to be the aunt of the accused. Through illicit means, Colton soon discovers a missing computer and connections to an online pornography group in the dead woman’s apartment. Further investigation leads to Colton confronting members of an organized crime syndicate.

In book two, Seventy Times Seven, Colton is hired to find the missing wife of pottery entrepreneur Lester Cheek. What first appears to be a simple case of desertion soon develops into a complex investigation involving an international hit man. As Colton races to stop a murder for hire and save a marriage, he comes face to face with his past and must learn to reconcile his feelings of loss and abandonment.

Throughout the two books, Colton also struggles with his wife’s death and the resulting effects on his daughter, Callie. Colton must learn to balance work and essential time with a daughter who resents him and holds him responsible for her mother’s death. Can Colton connect with his daughter and seek her forgiveness before it’s too late?

Dodson has created a realistic cast of characters in his debut series. The reader is drawn to Colton and the issues he faces. Although a hard-nosed investigator, Colton has a vulnerability about him that leads to him helping the underdog, even at the risk of his own life. The only drawback in these two books is the stereotypical pastor who comes across as a little preachy.

If you’re looking for a suspenseful mystery with a touch of faith, forgiveness, and hope, then pick up a Colton Parker Mystery. You won’t be disappointed.
January 2007 sees the release of the third book in this series, The Root of All Evil.
Six Questions With: Brandt Dodson

What would be a typical day for you? If you have a job besides writing, how do you juggle your responsibilities?

I’m a practicing Podiatrist, with a subspecialty in peripheral nerve surgery, so my day typically begins in the office or hospital, between 7-8 am.
I usually arrive home around 5:30 -6, have dinner, spend time with my family (which is getting harder to do since the kids are growing up and have lost interest in dad), then begin writing around 9 pm. I’ll usually write until 11.
On weekends, I can usually get more time in at the keyboard. If I’m under deadline I write on my lunch hour - if I get one - and then all day on Saturday and Sunday.

How did you get started in writing?

This is a question that I’ve asked other writers and I find that their answer is very similar to mine. I got started in writing because a good teacher encouraged me.
When I was in grade school, I learned pretty quickly that I had no gift for singing, dancing, drawing, or painting. In fact, I remember my second grade art teacher holding up one of my paintings for all of the class to see. I was jazzed. I thought she was going to hold it out as a shinning example of what a young mind can do that is truly committed to the arts. Instead, she said, “this is an example of what we don’t want.” I was crushed.
On the other hand, my English teachers would always read my short stories as an example of “good writing.” In college, I got my final push from a creative writing instructor who said that I could go far, “if you put your mind to it and work hard.” His comment nurtured a growing love - and need - to write.

I’d like to be able to tell you that the sky opened up, and heavenly muses began to descend on me with divine inspiration. But it didn’t happen.
I wrote for twelve years, off and on, before I got my break with Harvest House.

What inspired you to write this series of books?

The old adage is, “write what you know.” The problem is that I don’t know much. So I went with the second adage that says, “write what you love.” And that’s what I did.
Dean Koontz once said, “You’ve got to write to entertain yourself. You’ve got to write what you can’t find in the bookstore.” I took his advice, and wrote to have fun. To let my mind wander and explore the things in fiction that I’ll never get the opportunity to explore in my real life.
I’m a fan of Chandler, Hammett, Parker, and Spillane. I wanted to see what I could do with my own character(s), and do it from a Christian perspective.

You were once employed by the FBI. How has this helped you with the Colton Parker series?

My experience with the FBI has given me an appreciation for a job that’s about as tough as they get. I served with many good men and women who would lay down their life for each other, and there aren’t too many places where that can be said about the employees who work there.
I wanted Colton to have a feeling for people that underlies his hard exterior. Although he’s cynical, tough, and weather-beaten, he still can’t walk away from someone who’s in trouble. He’s willing to sacrifice his own needs, wants and safety, to help a total stranger. But if you told him that, he’d be embarrassed, if not angry.
He sees himself as a “tough cookie,” but knows he isn’t. He cares, and sometimes that sense of caring can put him at risk.
That element of Colton is what I gained from my time with the employees of the FBI. In a way, they are hard. Tough. But underneath it all, they do what they do because they care.

What do you hope readers will take away with them after finishing this series?

Well, first, I hope they don’t finish the series. Plans are to produce a Colton Parker novel for as long as readers want them. But I do hope they come away from each novel with three things:

First, I hope they are entertained and come away with a desire to read more of the series.

Second, I hope they can personalize some of the issues that Colton wrestles with, as well as personalize the theme of the book. I want them to come away wondering just how they would’ve handled the same situation, then apply it to their own lives.

Third, I want resonance. I want the story to linger with them for years after they’ve read it. I want something from the novels to pop up in their heads at just the right time. And I want my work to drive them to the scriptures. If I can do all of that, then the novels will fulfill the challenge for which they were written.

What do readers have to look forward to in the future from Brandt Dodson?

Novels that will entertain and that will raise questions in the reader. Then I want them to go back to God’s word for the answers to those questions.
There are more Colton Parker novels in the works, and there will be some police procedurals as well. I’m also hoping to issue some standalone suspense, along with novels that could be classified as “thrillers.”I love to write. I hope that God will provide me with that opportunity for as long as He sees fit.

Learn more about Brandt at

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