Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki
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Fifty years ago The Commander came into power and murdered all who opposed him. In his warped mind, the seven deadly sins were the downfall of society.
To punish the guilty, he created the Hole, a place where sinners are branded according to their sins. Sinners are forced to live a less than human existence in deplorable conditions, under the watchful eye of guards who are ready to kill anyone who steps out of line.
Now, LUST wraps around my neck like thick, blue fingers, threatening to choke the life out of me. I’ve been accused of a crime I didn’t commit, and the Hole is my new home.
Brutal and savage violence.
Every day is a fight for survival.
But I won’t let them win. I will not die in the Hole.
I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter. My name is Lexi Hamilton, and this is my story.
Zeus, the Great Dane
by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki
When Reading Teen asked us to write a guest post, right away we decided it was time for our beloved Zeus, the Great Dane to have some fun in the spotlight. He’s a fan favorite and of course one of ours.
When we sat down to discuss Branded and the characters we wanted to develop, Abi brought up the idea of having a dog as a main character. And of course, Missy also loves dogs, so she agreed. Abi had just lost her Rottweiler, named Zeus, around the time we started thinking about Branded. So it was only natural that we would name our dog, Zeus.
Why we picked a Great Dane
There was a Great Dane that lived in Abi’s neighborhood, and she loved to watch him. He was a hundred and seventy pounds and his back stood taller than Abi’s waist, who is five feet four inches tall. Her kids called the dog the cow simply because he was white with black spots. Anyway, what Abi loved about the Great Dane was not only was he friendly and loving, he was goofy and had no idea how large he really was. He tried many times to sit on her lap, but of course he just knocked her over. But it was the other side of him that she admired; his protective side. Great Danes are wonderful guard dogs as well as family pets, as long as they are socialized and around a lot of people and other dogs at a young age. But in this case, we needed a Guard dog.
After deciding on a Great Dane, we needed to make sure he had the right amount of characteristics. And realistic ones at that. So, we made him loving, caring, goofy but also very protective and hard headed. He’s more vicious than a normal house pet obviously, because of the setting of the Hole and the danger that surrounds him. But Zeus not only brings protection into our story, he brings bravery, selflessness, humor, and unconditional love. Zeus shows no fear. He thrives off it and will do anything he can to protect Lexi and Cole. Zeus leans more toward Lexi, because he senses she’s not as strong and needs the added protection.
One of his best attributes is that he has a good sense about people. If they come across someone they aren’t familiar with, they wait for Zeus’s reaction. Zeus also has immaculate hearing that comes as a huge advantage to our characters. He can hear things far away, things that a human ear could never pick up. We find these characteristics fun to play with. They can make for some great tension in the story.
We tried to make everything Zeus does as realistic as possible in Branded. Both of us have two dogs each, so we had plenty of traits, funny idiosyncrasies, and facial expressions to choose from. Minus the violent acts.Those we’ve only witnessed on Cops the TV show. :)
Zeus is a hero. He’s a loyal dog and he loves his family. That’s something we can all understand and value. He brings a freshness and humor to an otherwise depressing, sometimes hopeless setting. He brings out the best in others, like our dogs do. Branded wouldn’t be the same without him. And we are grateful that so many of our readers love him, just as much as we do.
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