Well here we are again, sharing a moment in this crazy world with an author. We hope it provides you with a few moments of escape. Welcome, Robert.SC: Tell me a little bit about your main character of this book.
RH: Rik Arrowen is a leader who cares deeply about his town and the men and women who serve under him as Hunters. Their job is to protect the city from the mutated predators that prowl the forests and seas, killing them or driving them off if they get too close to civilization. His biggest weakness is a quick temper that he got from his father, and a streak of stubbornness that makes him intractable at times, but he is also fair and open minded at heart and often comes around. He is engaged to Mona Raine, who is Third Seat in the governing Women’s Council, but that is not public knowledge and sometimes he feels like he’s not good enough for her. She came from financial wealth and privilege and he doesn’t have anything beyond himself to give to her. He is more loyal to his job and his friends than he is to the letter of the law.SC: Sounds intriguing. Since we like the unusual around here, it begs the question, do you believe in the paranormal and if so, do you have an experience you can share?
RH: I have an open mind. I believe there is far more that we don’t know than we do. I have a couple of experiences. One was a premonition. I was someone who had never used my seatbelt back in the early ‘90s; it never even crossed my mind. One day driving in the fast lane on Highway 101 near San Francisco I felt an overwhelming need to put my seatbelt on. About five miles further on I realized the exit I had been thinking of taking, which was on the left, had been closed for repair, and the last exit before I would have had to go over the Bay bridge at rush hour was three lanes over on the right. I looked and swerved over to make that exit but missed seeing a truck in my blind spot. My car was totaled, and everything inside was ejected and piled up on a concrete divider sixty feet away. The state trooper who got there first told me that if I hadn’t been wearing a belt I would have been killed. The other one I recall happened in my twenties in Reno a long time ago. I woke up in the middle of the night and thought someone in an old time western outfit was standing in my doorway. I kept looking and it just got clearer. I shoved my arm into the pillowcase and lunged at the guy but whatever it was just evaporated and I slammed into the wall. I could have been dreaming or just seeing things, who knows.SC: It sounds like you've got a bit of an open door to the paranormal. Interesting. What titles are you working on now that you can tell us about?
RH: I am writing a semi-autobiography. It will be a fiction novel but all of the incidents it contains will be authentic, just with different names and some differences in timelines. It is challenging for me because it is being written in the first person, which I don’t have extensive experience with. I had kind of a wild youth. People have often told me I should write about it so that is what I am doing. Some of it is difficult to go back and rummage around in, it brings up a lot of feelings and forgotten details emerge with the writing, but I am excited about the way it is going and I think it will be a good read.SC: Well, thanks for dropping in today, Robert. Let's take a look at your novel now.
Spawn of the Cataclysm
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic Adventure
Publisher: Solstice Publishing
Date of Publication: March 2. 2020
Number of pages: Print 227; Kindle 194
Word Count: 70K
Humans carelessly wielded their power to create new things, a power that far outpaced their understanding. It was only a matter of time until something went terribly wrong. Something did.
Technology has been erased for millenniums, monsters spawned at the end of a world infest the forests and seas, and a new civilization has slowly risen from the long darkness. In sight of the looming ruins of what was once called San Francisco there is an evil growing.
The people of New Gate are about to face their greatest challenge.
Excerpt Chapter One
“We didn’t create the virus, it lived in the wild. We found it when Howler monkeys began starving to death even though they stripped every local crop in the area. The virus triggered their metabolism to speed up ... we were paid by the Defense Department to develop an offensive application, said we could keep exclusive rights to all its commercial uses if we delivered. It could have changed the way we grow food but they pushed us. It wasn’t ready to test, and when the earthquake hit… is out now. The death toll will be on their heads. And ours.”
Translated from the Cataclysm
Rik Arrowen leaned over the gunwale, his gaze following dancing green shafts of sunlight that plunged into the depths. He strained his eyes, thought he saw movement. A huge shadow drifted slowly below the light. He knew the creature they Hunted was down there, a hungry thing that lurked unseen.
“It is here,” he muttered.
A school of silver fish darted upward, their bodies flashed like a thousand mirrors. Rik’s heart jumped in the instant before a sail-sized fin, jagged and scarred, cut slowly into the green twilight before receding back into the murk. He had no time to catch his breath, or shout a warning, when the great misshapen spawn rose fast and straight into the light, its gaping jaws filled with teeth. The thing ignored the weighted haunch of bloody meat they had drawn it in with, and hit the wooden galley on the port side with enough force to knock four Hunters into the bay.
As the hull rocked, the water turned red and raw screams filled the air.
“What a beautiful day to be alive.”
The voice blew away Rik’s memory and brought him back to where he stood, high above the countryside on the windy battlement of Stonehaven’s north wall.
“Oh, forgive me,” the voice continued. “Did I startle you?”
Rik did not bother to turn around.
“No, Jerold,” he replied. “I was watching the bay. It’s been six days since we lost those four Hunters to the spawn. I can’t stop hearing their screams as the thing ate them. Nothing we could do. We hit it with five harpoons and it still swam away. On the way down, it swallowed the bait haunch whole, and would have pulled us under if we hadn’t cut the rope.” He paused for a moment. “I have never seen one that big. I hope it has gone back out to sea.”
“May the Mystery welcome them all,” Jerold said. “I don’t often see anyone else up here this time of day. I like the solitude, the view calms me when the Council is crawling up my back about money.”
Rik scanned the horizon. The morning mist had burned away, and the sea breeze held a hint of pine. To the west rose a low range covered with giant redwoods, some of them hundreds of feet tall. The ridge continued to wind its way from the south, ending in cliffs at the mouth of the bay. The wide channel reflected the blue of the sky, and ripples that ran counter to the waves marked strong currents that carried the tide out to sea. Across the water, the redwoods picked up again and became the great northern forest. Long ago, when the seas were lower, a famed bridge the ancients called Golden Gate stretched above the treacherous waters from shore to shore. Nothing was left of it now but a few worn mounds of concrete piles at each end.
Below the fortress, starting near the base of the hill, the city of New Gate sprouted like a garden. It spread down to the bay, a bright jumble of buildings and spires that tumbled to the busy harbor. There, sailing ships and galleys crowded together, bare masts bobbed within the walls of the breakwater. New Gate was home to almost twenty thousand souls and a passing refuge for a few thousand more at any given time. Now, it was bursting at the seams with wagons and people who could be seen crowding the streets and setting up stalls in the Market Square for the upcoming Equinal Games.
To the east and scattered around the bay were ruins. Most were settled into oddly geometric mounds and small hills covered in green, but in some places, they rose like monstrous patches of black lace from the dense hardwood forests that covered the lowlands around the bay. The largest cluster of these, called Lily’s Bones for reasons nobody could remember, contained broken and crumbling towers so immense that their ragged peaks were sometimes lost in the clouds.
About the Author:
Robert Hoppensteadt lied about his age and started working in Reno when he was fourteen, washing dishes on the late shift at a casino restaurant. Since then he has been a grunt in the Forest Service, a carpenter, and, after receiving a degree in Information Systems, a recruiter and senior manager. Now he writes full time. He has lived on both coasts and several places in between but currently resides in Virginia with his wife and two seriously spoiled and obnoxious cats.
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Twitter - https://twitter.com/RHoppensteadt