Thursday, October 12, 2006


Today and tomorrow, we talk with suspense novelist Brandt Dodson, author of Seventy Times Seven (Harvest House):

Lester Cheek had everything a man could want. A beautiful home, thriving business and money to burn. But he was alone -- very alone. Until he met Claudia. The attractive and effervescent Claudia was everything that Lester could hope for. But then, she mysteriously disappears and Colton Parker is hired to find her ...

A writer and a board-certified podiatrist specializing in peripheral nerve surgery, Dr. Dodson comes from a line of police officers spanning several generations.

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WHAT ARE YOUR WRITING HABITS? I'm a Podiatrist with a busy practice, so my days will typically begin in the hospital at 6:30 am and end when I arrive home at 6 or 6:30 pm. On nights when I have a meeting, or surgery, it can go even longer. The result, is that most of my writing tends to come in small segments of time.

I'll write during lunch hours -- if I get one -- or in the morning if I don't have rounds. But as a rule, most of my writing is done in the evening. I tend to write fast, which is a blessing since I need to make the most of the time I have.

ARE YOU AN "OUTLINE" OR "MAKE IT UP AS YOU GO" WRITER? I'm definitely a "Make It Up As You Go" writer. I generally start with a premise ("a highly respected high school guidance counselor who has no enemies is found brutally murdered") and then go from there.

Sometimes I know how the book will end, and sometimes I don't. I figure that if I don't know the end of the mystery, then neither will the reader. I recently had the opportunity to serve on a panel at the Bouchercon with Sue Henry, who writes two mystery series that are set in Alaska. She's an excellent writer, and I was pleased to hear her say that she also doesn't outline -- and for the same reason.

WHAT IS THE BEST THING ANYONE SAID ABOUT YOUR BOOKS? A reader, writing a review on Amazon, said, "There is definitely a bit of (Raymond) Chandler in Dodson." Wow!

WHAT IS THE WORST THING ANYONE SAID ABOUT YOUR BOOKS? So far, I haven't had any bad things said. The reviews have been good, and the readers have responded well. Check with me later.

HOW MANY BOOKS DO YOU READ A MONTH? Depends on how many I'm writing. Right now, I write two a year, and read a lot more non-fiction (to study the craft) than I do novels. I generally read two or three books at a time. Right now I'm reading Lawrence Block's Hit List, Lee Child's One Shot and Eric Wilson's The Best of Evil.

AS A READER, WHAT MAKES A BOOK INTRIGUING TO YOU? (WHAT DOES A BOOK NEED FOR YOU TO PICK IT UP?) If it's a new writer (new to me -- one I've never read) the cover will get my attention. After that, I read the first paragraph. If it isn't about people, I put it down. I tend to subscribe to Mark Twain's notion that stories should never begin with weather. Meaning that people are interested in character. Dean Koontz starts his books this way, and so do I.

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Come back tomorrow for the conclusion of our Q&A with Brandt Dodson. Find him online at

Related link: Q&A: BRANDT DODSON, PT 2

More mystery and thriller novelists:
Q&A: ERIC WILSON (The Best of Evil)
Q&A: JON L. BREEN (Eye of God)
Q&A: MELANIE WELLS (The Soul Hunter)
Q&A: SUSAN MEISSNER (Widows & Orphans)
Q&A: SANDRA BROWN (Ricochet)

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Die Laughing: Funny Crime and Mystery Fiction


A woman with a complicated past returns home to become the small town's new sheriff. Best Mann For The Job is by the writer/artist team of Chris and Erica Well. Read it from the beginning at Watch the trailer on YouTube.