Portal to another dimension?

Brandt Dodson was born and raised in Indianapolis and comes from a line of police officers spanning several generations. A writer and a board–certified podiatrist specializing in peripheral nerve surgery, Dr. Dodson, his wife, and their two sons live in Newburgh, Indiana, where he serves as an elder at the First Christian Church. Daniel’s Den is his latest novel.

This past weekend I had my first signing for my newly released novel, Daniel’s Den. It was a local signing so I expected turnout to be good. It was. I signed for two and a half hours and had very little downtime. Dozens of books were moved and I got a chance to meet old friends and many new readers.

This, I thought, is what it’s all about.

Wrong.

During one of the few lulls of the afternoon, a very pleasant lady approached my table. I had noticed her earlier, buzzing about, eyes locked on me as she pretended to peruse the many overstocked shelves, so is was no surprise when she finally approached the table behind which I stood. This is not all that uncommon at a book signing as many people are either too shy or too reticent to approach an author.

She asked me how I got published. This is also a rather common question to hear during a book signing, or other author venue, and so I told her my own story and then proceeded to give her advice on how to break in. (Write the best book you can.)
She listened intently then asked me the mother of all questions; a question that no reader has ever asked.

“Do you believe that Evansville (Indiana – the location of the book signing) is a portal to another dimension?”

Unsure if I had heard her correctly, I asked her to repeat the question.

She did, confirming that my hearing was intact.

“No,” I said. “I don’t think so.”

She lowered her voice, leaned across the table and said, “Oh, I do. I think the muse is up there and just beams ideas into our minds.”

After a few more minutes of conversation – in which she told one reader to leave because I was talking to her – she smiled and moved on. When I told my wife about this later that evening, she asked if I wanted to watch “Misery”, the movie starring James Caan and based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name. (If you’re a writer, you need to watch it. But read the book, too.)

But as bizarre as the lady’s question may seem, I had to ask myself, “Is Evansville the portal to another dimension?”

Absolutely! In a literary sense, that is.

Our writing – and I’m talking novels, now – should transport our readers to places and times they could not obtain on their own. We should take them to the rain-soaked, wind-swept cliffs of a Gothic romance, to the bowels of the jungle in a military thriller, or to an old man’s cabin by the sea, as Hemingway did in his award-winning classic.

The best novels I’ve read – and I dare say, that you’ve read – are those that take us out of our world and into another. That gives us the chance to live vicariously through characters that are as palpably real as those who share our lives; novels that show us a side of life – or of ourselves – we’ve never seen.

As a writer, that’s the challenge; the brass ring for any novelist.

It’s not about meeting old friends or new readers at a book signing. It’s about the craft. It’s about the writing.

Is Evansville the portal to another dimension?

You bet. And so is the town in which you live, if you’ll settle down, put words to paper, and make it so.

Win a copy of Daniel’s Den by leaving a comment on this post. Winner will be chosen and announced on Tuesday.