Brandt Dodson is a podiatrist by day and author by night – now there’s a fascinating combination! Gaining success as a writer with his Colton Parker Mysteries, Brandt has turned his hand to a stand alone suspense novel, Daniel’s Den.
It is my great pleasure to have Brandt share a behind the scenes look at Daniel and in a Relz Reviewz first, a character spotlight on Daniel’s dog, Elvis!
Daniel is thirty-five years old, stands six feet tall and weighs in at slightly over 180, give or take five pounds.
He has sandy brown hair with hazel eyes and features that are sharp enough to cut glass. Although his occupation as an investment analyst requires him to “dress for success” in suits that are sharply cut and shirts that are crisply pressed, he prefers the casual in his downtime, opting for jeans and a t-shirt.
This photo of actor George Stultz comes close to capturing Daniel Borden’s essence. On the surface he appears congenial and easy going. A laid back sort of chap. But that can be deceiving. Underneath the gentle exterior is a man determined to succeed. It is this determination – along with his definition of success – that drives Daniel to the crossroads of his life.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Daniel’s greatest strength is also his greatest weakness. His self-confidence is without restraint. Having been raised in poverty by parents that were largely disengaged, Daniel has learned to rely on himself for the things he wants in life. Near the top of this list is a job he loves, a home that is above average, money in the bank, and the ability to enjoy the finer things in life. He’s worked exceedingly hard to achieve his goals and has met his definition of success. But when all of this comes under attack by forces he can’t see and for reasons unknown, he learns that there are some things in life he can’t do alone.
Enter Laura Traynor. She’s everything that Daniel isn’t. But she’s everything Daniel wants. And needs.
Each morning, before leaving for work, he does 100 pushups and 100 sit ups followed by a three mile run. Every day. He follows this up with three nights of racquetball.
Daniel is seeking security, whether it comes from his money or his health, and will go to all lengths to find it.
Poor Daniel. Things are about to change.
Your inspiration for the character
Daniel is an amalgam of two people I know. One of these is a very self-reliant individual who believes he can do anything. The problem, though, is that he fails at nearly everything he tries. His opinion of himself far exceeds anything that is grounded in reality, but this doesn’t stop him from boasting and bragging. He plays office politics, often using his title as a means of trumpeting his “success”.
The other, however, is a person who has accomplished a great deal without really trying. This person lives life by doing the best job she can – whatever the job may be – and in the process, is leaving a legacy that will follow her long after she’s gone. She’s never boastful, never prideful, and has the respect of nearly everyone with whom she works. Unlike the office politicians who play politics because they could never achieve anything based on merit, this woman steers clear of backroom shenanigans and simply does her job.
The inspiration for Daniel’s Den came from Isaiah 26:12. “…all that we have accomplished you have done for us.” (NIV)
Background to the story
I watched the news of Katrina and the disaster it wrought on New Orleans with the same concern as anyone else. For days, the citizens of that city fought the ravages of a natural disaster for which the government was woefully unprepared. Like Daniel when he was tossed into the lion’s den, there were no powers or authorities that could save them from certain death and destruction. Except for God.
Daniel’s Den centers on two very different people who are living hundreds of miles apart.
Laura is a struggling single mother, working two jobs to support herself and her son and fulfill the dream she once shared with her late husband. There isn’t enough money and her dreams lie in the ash bin of defeat. In short, she seems to have nothing.
But when political corruption meets unchecked greed, Daniel and Laura find themselves thrown together, sharing more than they could ever imagine as they learn the true definition of security.
And now to Elvis!
Elvis is a two year old black Labrador who was adopted from an animal shelter by Daniel Borden, the protagonist of Daniel’s Den.
Elvis lost his mother early in life when she got into the garbage one afternoon and ate some chocolate. Shortly afterward, his father broke his leash and wondered into traffic where he was struck by an oncoming auto. This tragedy would set the tone of Elvis’ early life.
Following the death of his mother and father, Elvis and his siblings (two sisters, one brother) were farmed out to various pet stores and other venues, and none of them has since been able to reconnect with the others.
Unfortunately, Elvis was adopted into a family that felt a pet was a necessary part of a complete household, but which also felt no sense of responsibility. This lack of attention on their part – feedings were infrequent and he was often chained to a tree for days on end – was underwritten by a lack of affection. It wasn’t long before Elvis began to find himself on the receiving end of some aggressive behavior and was often the “whipping boy” for any problems the family encountered. He had all but given up hope when Hurricane Katrina struck the gulf coast.
The huge storm devastated the family’s home, but also freed Elvis from the hell that had become his life. After wondering the streets for several weeks and eating whatever he could find, he was picked up by a Red Cross worker who took him to a local animal shelter. It was there that he had the first decent meal he had enjoyed in a long time. Shortly afterward, Daniel Borden came looking for a pet and adopted Elvis.
There were problems at first. Elvis was shy around those he did not know, but he reasoned that it was better to be cautious than sorry. But as Elvis learned that his new owner meant him no harm (Daniel allowed Elvis to sleep on the foot of the bed, gave him his own ball, and even slipped him food from the big table on occasion) Elvis began to relax and, for the first time in his short life, learned that kindness does exist in the world and that there are those who care.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Elvis has the capacity to recognize his own strengths and weaknesses. He knows, for example, that he has the strength to forgive and he is pleased with that. Elvis recognizes that without the ability to forgive he would be destined to live a life of bitterness that would further poison the well. He knows he has a “right” to be bitter – life has not treated him kindly – but also understands that there are many other dogs, and pets of every species for that matter, that have not had the opportunity for recovery and have no one to love them like his Daniel loves him.
Elvis’ greatest weakness may lie in his sense of eternal devotion. Even after the starvation, the whippings, and the long bouts of neglect, he could not help but wag his tail whenever his previous owners came within view – even if they had a stick or belt in their hand; even if they wore the heavy boots he came to dread.
Elvis is a pleaser. His chief goal in life is to please Daniel. So when the morning run time rolls around, Elvis is usually chomping at the bit. As he and Daniel begin their trek around the neighborhood, Elvis will often strain at his leash in a good natured effort to challenge Daniel. The lab knows that his owner likes this, which only further fuels Elvis’ effort to please. He sees this as a quirk, but one that is true to his nature and should be embraced.
Your inspiration for the character
Early in our married life my wife and I adopted a Siberian Huskie that had many
of the same traits as Elvis. At the time, I was working for the FBI when one of the secretaries found the puppy sitting in the middle of our parking lot, abandoned. She called the animal shelter which had a policy of euthanizing any animal that was not adopted within a few days. I didn’t think a young pup should have its chance at life taken from it, so my wife and I drove to the shelter to adopt the dog. When the clerk told us that “the FBI found this dog” we feigned surprise (“Well, they really do get their man, don’t they?”), paid for the dog’s shots and took her home.We named her Hoover (no kidding) and she lived a long and full life.
Just fabulous, Brandt – loved Elvis’ story, especially 😉 Thank you!
On Monday, I will be spotlighting characters from a book I can’t wait to read ~ Irene Hannon’s Evan (Coop) Cooper and Monica Callahan from Against All Odds.
Dee Henderson has this to say about Irene’s book, “I found someone who writes romantic suspense better than I do.”
Relz Reviewz Extras
Review of Daniel’s Den
Visit Brandt’s website