An author’s journey. Mindtravel is never restricted

Progress in completing the manuscript of the new adventure novel REBOUNCE was disappointing these two past weeks. Other obligations took time and effort: the marketing of TWO JOURNEYS (available e.g. as eBook $2.99, you can find it for instance at Apple Books) and FIELDS OF FIRE (available e.g. as paperback $19.99, for instance at amazon.com), needed urgent attention. In addition, I have been looking at ways to identify a publishing house and a literary agent; both of which take time. And I had a lot of other things to do too… taken together, all these distraction didn’t help to focus on corrections of the manuscript’s storyline. It still needs work; the flow and the action have to be smooth like silk.

So I have set up a rigid schedule, with specific times each a day (also weekends) dedicated to finalizing the corrections. After all, the aim is to publish five books in considerably less than five years… and that, to say it bluntly, is a challenge.

In any case, below is another tasty snippet from the new manuscript. Enjoy!

++++++++++REBOUNCE+++Draft+++Copyright+Clemens P. Suter+++++++++

We crossed the Swiss border and passed into the town of Basel. The road was four-lane, but soon we came to a traffic jam that disappeared into a tunnel underneath the northern site of the city. Like so many other tunnels, it had flooded with water shortly after the power-stations had shut down; most tunnels depended on continuously running pumps to stay dry. We had no other option than to maneuver through the narrow streets of the town, across the Rhine bridge, past the old city hall with its characteristic red façade, and from there in the direction of the railway station and the highway beyond. Francois insisted on getting some quality Swiss chocolate, so I parked the truck in an alleyway leading up to the Munster cathedral, a landmark of the town. I stood guard with the dogs, machine gun in my hand, pistols in my belt. Although the city seemed to be deserted, I still felt edgy and listened for sounds constantly.

Finally, Francois appeared again. I couldn’t help smiling, as he was lugging a cardboard box so heavy that the sweat was running down his face. “If I had known you were such a Luculus, we should have stayed in France.” He looked at me vacantly, clearly oblivious of the Roman dignitary famous for organizing lavish banquets. We boarded and continued towards the main station.

The curvy street had allowed only a single file of cars and only in one direction. Parked cars stood on the sides, many blocking the view of the sidewalks and the shops. I was driving slowly and both of us were checking our surroundings intently.

Suddenly a man appeared in the middle of the road. He wore army gear and a machine gun and raised his hand. I saw a couple of other men crouching down behind the parked cars. Although we had been expecting this to happen, we were still surprised, and Francois cursed underneath his breath.

With the bored air of a commanding officer, the man stepped up to our car and signaled me to lower the window. Francois and I had gone over possible scenarios, so it came as no surprise to see Francois steadying his machine gun towards the window. I quickly glanced back at the three dogs.

Je dois vous demander de sortir de la voiture.” Get out of the car, the man said.

“We have important information for your boss,” I said in English, “tell us where we can find him so that we can speak to him.”

“First get out of ze car. Leave your gunze in ze car.”

“I am not going to discuss this. We are not getting out of this vehicle, and we won’t disarm.” I looked ahead, pretending disinterest.

He seemed slightly astonished and considered his options. After a few seconds he spoke again. “Wher’ ar’ you ‘eading?”

“To your boss. Show us the way and we will talk to him.”

Silence followed. Without speaking, he turned around.

“There will shooting,” I said, “he seems to be in command, there is nobody he is going to ask for advice or commands. He will try to get us out of the truck.” Francois nodded. I checked the gas; the engine was still running. The officer withdrew behind the parked cars. We couldn’t see him or his companions. Somebody shouted. ”Get out of ze car, now!” To emphasize these words, one of the men fired a few shots at us, which cracked the windscreen. I would have been dead if the glass hadn’t been bulletproof. I opened the car door and grabbed Bo by the skin of his neck. “Show us what you can do, boy. Get them! Go! Go!” Enthusiastically, Bo clawed his way over my lap, his claws scratching my bare skin, and jumped to the ground. I didn’t have to say anything to the other two dogs, who immediately followed their leader. With their ears in their necks and low to the ground, the three dogs stormed forward and disappeared between the cars, silent and deadly like ghosts in the night. Francois and I jumped out of the vehicle too,  and staying low to the ground we quickly moved forward, one of us on one side of the street. A few shots were fired in our direction, but soon, shortly after a horrible growl, the shooting stopped.

Within seconds, we came upon the officer and two soldiers. The dogs had them pinned to the ground, snarling, holding their arms and necks. The officer tried to go for his pistol, but Lex released the man’s throat and went for his hand, his fangs closing on the man’s fingers. The officer’s face contorted from pain and panic. “Get him off, get him off!” he shrieked with an unnatural high-pitched voice.

Francois and I removed their guns and kicked them underneath the parked cars. I called the dogs back. Immediately they retreated and sat down beside me, liking their jowls. The officer held his bleeding hand close to his chest. “Wat ‘ave you dunn?” I kneeled next to him and took his hand. “You will need to get that hand taken care of, and your colleagues also need medical attention. Is there a doctor in your unit?”

He nodded.

“Get into your car and bring us to your medical staff.”

I helped him up, while Francois kept us covered with his gun. One of the men was still able to drive, and we put him in the driver’s seat of a small jeep they had parked around the corner. Francois got into the back with the officer. I took the dogs to our armored car.

A few minutes later we arrived at a hotel opposite of the central station. It was a stuffy, old fashioned place, with a guard just inside the door. He jumped to attention as I stepped in, and when he realized that I wasn’t a member of the staff, he attempted to raise his gun. I pulled the officer forward and the guard lowered his gun again, but he stared at the injuries of his comrades with considerable shock.

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Apple Books Reviews for TWO JOURNEYS

REBOUNCE teaser – sixty second read

REBOUNCE will be the final installment in the TWO JOURNEYS trilogy. An adventure story set in a post-pandemic, dystopian world.

*********************  Sample **********************

Large numbers of birds nested in the trees and their song was deafening. There was no farming in this area anymore, and the live animals that roamed the plains, or their corpses that rotted in the open air, led to an explosive increase in the numbers of insects. We had to remove the dead bugs from the car’s windshield twice a day, something that I only remembered my father talking about. Depending on our location, mosquitos and flies were so abundant that at times they overwhelmed us, getting into our nostrils and ears by the dozens. We constantly suffered bites and stings and the resulting itching drove us mad. The insects drove the animals wild too. The abundance of insects positively affected the numbers of birds and bats. I imagined that the world was now returning to the wildlife situation prior to the  nineteenth century – naturally without the species that mankind had eradicated in the interim. I wondered about climate change too. With the pandemic, the release of carbon-dioxide caused by humankind’s activities had come to a sudden stop. At the same time, most of the land that had been used for agriculture before the pandemic was now being reconquered by bushes and trees. This rich vegetation tied carbon-dioxide down in the form of biomass. Although it was too early to tell any difference, I suspected that the Earth’s average temperature would slowly start to decrease, leading to colder winters, the refreezing of the polar caps, the reappearance of the large glaciers, lowering of the sea levels and an end to desertification.

The first two novels of the TWO JOURNEYS trilogy. Get you copy in any internet bookstore, in any format.

Great News: The Raw Text of the New Post-Apocalyptic Novel is Available. Here’s a Sample – Enjoy.

Great news for all fans of my post-apocalyptic / adventure novels TWO JOURNEYS and FIELDS OF FIRE: the first raw version of the third installment in this trilogy was finished today, at 91,634 words. Now comes the hard part: refining the text, finetuning the storyline and… editing, editing, editing!

Below a sample for the impatient – but caution: this is unedited text.

************************************************************************

I had been asleep for a few hours, when Vora shook me. “Alan. I’m not feeling well, not well at all.”

She looked terrible, and she was hot with fever. I gave her some water and a few tablets to lower her temperature. “Go back to bed, I will look after you. If I’m not here when you wake up, I will be looking for medication. You will feel better in the morning.”

I lighted a candle and sat in a chair close by, dogs at my feet, and pretended to read a journal. My mind wasn’t with the text at all, as this unexpected complication took me by surprise. People did get sick, but I wondered what had struck her. I retraced our steps and activities but couldn’t immediately think of anything that might have caused this unless she had been wounded during the skirmishes in Denver. Or had one the soldiers been a carrier for an infection and had that been passed on to her?

After a restless night, dawn arrived, a blood-red sun slowly rising above the horizon. I had stolen away and wandered through the empty halls. I had located a store with some medical supplies; the stuff that travelers had needed; ibuprofen, aspirin, cough medicine, antiseptic solutions, plasters; nothing truly useful, but I took all of it along.

Vora was still asleep, her fever slightly better. She woke up about an hour later.

“How are you doing?”

She shook her head: “Tired mostly. Exhausted. This is a bastard.”

“Any pain?”

She felt her body. “Not really. Alan – I’m sorry, I…”

I put my finger to my lips. “Hush! I don’t want to hear it. Let’s get you going again, then we’ll talk about next steps. I will have to examine you, whether you have any damage.”

I helped her get out of bed and together we managed to take off her trousers. I lifted her shirt. She had some bruises and scratches, a few looked slightly more serious. I checked her feet and her hands for wounds. I cleaned every scratch with alcohol.

“What do you see?” She could only speak in a whisper.

“Nothing conspicuous. These wounds should all quickly heal, none of them should cause a fever, but you never know… Just rest now, and I will do some thinking. Did anybody do anything to you… anything that I should know about? That could have infected you?” She shook her head. “No, nothing that I can think off.”

In a clean t-shirt and loose leggings, her face and hands cleaned with some water and alcohol, and after a bite of food, she looked a bit better. “Stay in bed and relax.”

I left the lounge. I cursed when I was out of hearing. I needed Vora to get me across the ocean, to fly that plane for me… us. Without her support I would be lost. I needed to get her fit as fit as possible and as quickly as possible.

At the information desk in the arrival area, behind customs, I found details about the immediate surrounding area. Mostly commercial offerings, like hotels, restaurants, and shuttle services; nonetheless I also found a useful map: a university hospital was located nearby, may ten blocks away.

Vora had to be moved. A hospital would provide medicine, equipment, information…

Not much later, I located an ambulance parked underneath the terminal. The engine worked. I pulled out the stretcher and the dogs and I walked back to the lounge.

Vora was awake, but I wasn’t happy with the way she looked. She hadn’t improved one bit, that was clear. I transferred our gear to the ambulance, and then I tied her onto the stretcher, to which she objected halfheartedly. In her position I would have objected too, but I didn’t want her to break a hip should she fall off.

We went to the ambulance, I loaded her and the three dogs in the back, and off we went. For a second, I was tempted to switch on the siren, but decided against it, for obvious reasons; I didn’t want to attract any downers.

I drove up to the entrance of the emergency unit, unloaded the stretcher with Vora, and found a room where I could put her in. I put the stretcher down to a few inches off the ground. “Everything OK?”

She didn’t answer.

***************************************

Like it? Get a copy of TWO JOURNEYS on your Apple device, and start out with part one of the trilogy.

Black Hole Detected on Edge of Milky Way. The Dutch Postal System. #NederlandsePost #PostNL #DHLNL #PTT #Brief

My first experience with the cross-border mail delivery capabilities of the Dutch postal system date back thirty years. I had just moved to Germany, and Dutch friends sent me a gift. The box arrived, but the contents had been removed through a gaping hole in the side. This observation of the damage had been written on the package by a German postal worker at a delivery center on the border. I filed a complaint, with no effect. This was my first encounter with the consistently malfunctioning Dutch postal system, a country that is generally perceived as modern and well-functioning on many other fronts.

Years went by, during which family, friends and I continued to attempt to exchange holiday and birthday gifts across the German / Dutch border. Occasionally my parents sent money hidden in Christmas cards. Although sending money by post within Germany or from Germany to any other country is tricky business (thieves seem to have “magical machines” to detect money hidden in envelopes), no envelope with money ever managed to arrive if sent from the Netherlands. Surprisingly, Christmas cards without money sent at the same time did arrive, although always late. In fact, any letter or package consistently arrived with surprising delays, but also damaged… or not at all.

Not surprisingly, expat friends and I became very weary of the Dutch postal service. Years went by, during which I refused to send any package to and from the Netherlands. In contrast, delivery within Germany or to other countries remained as reliable as ever.

Ultimately, complacency would overcome my concerns, so after a while I would again try to send an occasional birthday present to a Dutch acquaintance. I started to notice an additional worrying phenomenon. Whereas in Germany, the addressee of a package is also the owner of its contents, in the Netherlands it may happen that the initial recipient gains full ownership. So, if the mail delivery service leaves the package with a neighbor (e.g. because the addressee isn’t home), this neighbor may well store this package with disinterest under a pile of coats in the hallway. Then after many weeks, somebody (a child, or a pet) will open the package and eat the edible contents. This lackluster treatment of other people’s belongings, combined with a below par delivery service, has caused much frustration and disappointment over the years.

Since a few years, we rely on a mix of traditional postal services and DHL.NL. There is no distinguishable difference in quality.

Now, some of you will say that I exaggerate, or have no hard evidence. Aha! Since two years, my two sons have moved from Germany; one to Belgium, the other to the Netherlands. Six months ago, I received election-related documents for them, which I sent on the same day to son 1&2. My sons had to sign a document, and return it to Germany. Then, from Germany the voting document was sent to each son, after which both could vote and return the ballot sheet. A complex procedure, that could not be done by email.

Now, a letter to and from Belgium takes about four days for delivery, and this son was able to vote well in time. My son in the Netherlands had no such luck. After all, a letter to and from the Netherlands takes 7, 9 or even 12 days. He missed the deadline miserably  and was unable to make use of his right to vote.

After this experience I swore that this was my very final interaction with the Dutch postal system. But my wife was still optimistic. In November, she packed two identical boxes with Christmas presents for both sons. My son in Belgium received the package after 7 days, around December 1st. Christmas came and went, and my son in the Netherlands was still waiting. The package could be traced up to the Dutch border, after which it entered the black hole of the Dutch postal systems.

Arrival pending.

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Originally posted 2020-01-11 15:35:19.

Teaser from my new manuscript REBOUNCE. Not for the weak & meek. Don’t try this at home.

In a previous post I provided details about the new novel that I am working on: REBOUNCE is the preliminary name of this book and the third and final book in the TWO JOURNEYS trilogy (get a copy of the first two books, for instance on your iPhone / iPad). I am now at 45,000 words, 55,000 to go.

The hero Alan, as tough as nails… combining unrelenting courage, adaptability, compassion and inventiveness – pre-conditions essential to survive in a devastated, post-pandemic world.

Danger lurks around every corner, and not just from humans. To illustrate the man’s resilience: here’s a short sample from the unedited manuscript. DON’T try this at home.

Stay tuned for more.

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Part of Chapter 7

Lewis’ eyes explored my face. “What happened to your eye?”

Usually, people ignore the black patch that covers my left eye, they just stare at it curiously, too embarrassed to ask.

“A guy with a knife attacked me.”

“Sorry to hear that.”

I shrugged. “He’s too. I shot him.”

Lewis’ eyebrows went up, a combination of respect and shock. I usually tell anyone who asks me this story. Why not make the best out of the loss of an eye? In addition, the true story was so embarrassingly weird, that nobody ever believed it.

I had at one point made the foolish decision to take a motorbike for a ride. In the absence of humans and pesticides, insects had returned in large numbers and as the engine accelerated onto an unspoiled stretch of highway, I hit into a cloud of fat hornets. One had landed in my eye and stung me multiple times. I fell off the bike and barely made it back to base. The next day, my left eye swelled up beyond recognition. I dragged myself to a drugstore where I camped for a few days, trying out any useful medication or antibiotic that I could find. It was no use; without any help, I suddenly had to decide between dying or operating on myself; the left side of my face was swollen like a red balloon, and the eyeball was gray and obviously invested by an aggressive, unbeatable bug. I pulled a stretcher into a backroom, mounted lights and a mirror above it, and prepared an infusion with a cocktail of salt, painkillers and antibiotics. Lying on my back, I anesthetized half of my face. The next hour was the most horrible in my entire life. On some level, even my wife’s death was by comparison a walk in the park. In my dreams, especially after a heavy meal, I sometimes still see the scalpel approaching my eye. The first incision was excruciating. I shortly passed out from pain and the obnoxious smell of puss and blood that ran down my face. I screamed in horror and shook my head like a wild man. After many minutes I regained some control, and feeling slightly better, I turned my head back to look at my reflection in the mirror. With my gloved hand I opened my half-closed eyelids. The eye itself was gone, the socket a gaping hole, with some ugly bits of tissue and the stump of the nerve in the back. With trembling hands, I rinsed the wound and patched it up with bandages and disinfectant that I had prepared earlier. Then I fainted. It took me six weeks to recuperate.

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The Best Books Ever! The Ultimate List of Adventure Stories.

The very first book I ever read was an illustrated children’s story about a small duck. I must have been six, I still remember how I struggled with the first page for weeks, until one Sunday morning I suddenly could read it in one go. I was so happy that I woke up my parents. Even after all these years I still have that book, torn and frayed at the edges.
I haven’t stopped reading since. I recall the books of my youth, such as the ones by Jules Verne and Karl May. I read Lord of the Rings when I was 13, and then moved on to science fiction: Asimov and Jack Vance. Many books I have read multiple times: some even 5 or 10 times. Good books never get boring.
I started writing myself, and in 2010 I published an adventure novel… about the  dreadful effect of a corona pandemic. As an author, I have less time for reading, but I still do manage to read some exiting novels. Luckily enough my wife prereads a lot of new releases and passes the most thrilling ones to me.

Here‘s my personal list of the Best Books Ever! It is in alphabetical order, but you can easily browse or re-order to your liking. Currently it contains 50 titles, but I will add more over time. And yes, my own pandemia books are also in the list, as they have also greatly impacted my life. I hope the list inspires you to pick up some great (classic) fiction and non-fiction.
Is any particular favorite of yours missing?

Woman reading Clemens P. Suter's CELETERRA

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Originally posted 2020-01-04 20:27:00.

Tokyo, Japan. Backdrop for TWO JOURNEYS, the Corona Pandemic novel.

Arguably, Tokyo is the most populated city in the world, with 36 million inhabitants during the day and 22 million at night. It is impressive how this city runs so smoothly with that many inhabitants. What would happen if it would come to a sudden standstill? The opening chapters of TWO JOURNEYS (my 2011 CORONA PANDEMIC novel) describe just that.
Below some pictures that I took in Tokyo during past visits and that inspired me to place my post apocalyptic work in this mega city.

Highrises in Tokyo. The sheer bulk of these buildings is overwhelming.

Alan, the hero of Two Journeys visits Tokyo around Christmas time.

Should an epidemic of the proportions described in Two Journeys strike, the lights (above) would extinguish rapidly, the trains such as the one below (famously overfilled) would halt.

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Originally posted 2018-01-06 23:15:11.