With his book Daniel’s Den, Brandt Dodson weaves a tale that could have been ripped from today’s headlines. Daniel Border is a successful New Orleans stock analyst and Laura Traynor is a single mother. Fate drives them together and they find themselves caught in a game of cat-and-mouse where they learn just how big the cat can be … and that it’s no game.
WHAT LED YOU TO WRITE DANIEL’S DEN?
At the time I wrote Daniel’s Den the economic crisis involving the banks, savings and loans, and Fannie Mae, had not yet become news. But anyone who follows world events can (or should) clearly see that we are heading for financial trouble. In my writer’s mind, I saw this as an economic Tsunami and wanted to portray this at its basilar level. I’m convinced that most of our troubles have arrived on an engine of greed. The type of greed that says, “I want it today whether I can pay for it or not.” In fact, it has been suggested that less than 50% of us pay the taxes that support everyone else. This problem is not unique to the United States. We see riots occurring in Greece because the minority can no longer pay for the majority. Ireland and most of Europe are experiencing similar financial stress.
The problem with developing the book was to make it interesting (there is nothing more mundane than a bunch of facts and figures). I did this, I hope, by bringing it to a personal level where Daniel Borden, the novel’s protagonist, endures the collapse of his orderly and financially secure world. This is something I believe most of us will see if we do not turn things around. I chose New Orleans as the setting, because no one, not even the U.S. government, could save the citizens when the hurricane hit. Only God can see us through our troubles and I wanted to show Him doing just that. He is indeed the only one who can close the lion’s mouth.
STARTING OUT, WHO WERE THE AUTHORS WHO INSPIRED YOU? WHO INSPIRES YOU NOW?
As a young boy I read the biographies of Augusta Stevenson and the stories of Beverly Clearly. As an adult, my early influences were Dean Koontz, Robert B. Parker, Raymond Chandler, Mark Twain, Tom Clancy, and Jack Higgins. While I still admire these writers, my current influences include Jeffrey Archer, Vince Flynn, Lee Child, Harlan Coben, Stephen Coonts, Michael Palmer, and Ken Follett. I admire Ken’s work and the way he’s managed his career. I’ve had the opportunity to meet him, and he is also a very personable fellow. That’s a nice thing to discover in an icon.
HOW DOES YOUR FAITH INFLUENCE YOUR WRITING?
My faith in Christ influences everything I do. I will not write profanity or graphic sex scenes or anything that defames His name. I am His tool, His representative, and I try to be ever mindful of that. Even if I were to write for the ABA rather than the CBA, I would not compromise on this singular issue. Having said that, I will also write fiction that, I believe, realistically portrays the fallen world in which we live. This is to the consternation of some in the CBA.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU KNOWN YOU WANTED TO BE AN AUTHOR?
In grade school, the only thing that I could ever do that seemed to come easy and that brought great pleasure was to write. In high school, and later, in college, I had the good fortune of having teachers and professors tell me that I should be a writer and that if I didn’t, I would regret it the rest of my life. I won an all-expense-paid trip to Washington D.C. while in high school by having the winning essay. Even while in Podiatry school, while learning about this new disease that was robbing Rock Hudson of his immune system (AIDS), I kept thinking, “this would make a great article.” I wasn’t seeing it as a physician who would be dealing with the problem, but as a writer who wanted to inform others.
WHAT DO YOU MOST HOPE THAT READERS GET FROM READING YOUR WORK?
First, I want them to be entertained. Then, I want my readers to find resonance. In short, I want them to think about the story for months or years after they’ve finished the book. I was a fan of Robert B. Parker’s Spenser series. He was a profound influence on me – maybe too much – but his books are like “brain candy.” I can finish one and pick it up six weeks later and re-read it like I’m reading it for the first time. On the other hand, Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot has stayed with me, with some of the scenes popping up in my mind from time to time. If I can find a story that resonates with enough readers, and write it in a way that defines that resonance, I will be able to write for the rest of my life.