Guest Post, Interview and Exclusive Excerpt: Traces by Alexander Jalo

One seemingly insignificant moment sets into motion a whirlwind that would eventually suck the main character, Finnish Daniel Bremer, into its core. Daniel was planning to write a book about truth, but he didn’t expect to experience it himself in the most painful way. There is something behind the truth that eludes him. Sometimes, certain truths turn out to be too dangerous and it’s better to continue concealing that which is concealed. In the end, Daniel finds himself faced with conflicting feelings of love and guilt as a result of his own actions. And just when he decides that the truth will set him free, his life is met with tragedy.

Traces begins with Daniel having a romantic encounter with Marie Allègre in Paris and, as a result, being stalked by her jealous ex-boyfriend, Raymond Durand. As the story progresses, both Daniel and the reader are drawn deeper into Raymond’s dark world, a world that gradually becomes more complex. Daniel’s life raft comes from a surprising source in the form of CIA Agent Bruce Brock.

Traces, is an erotic thriller that delves into the world of intelligence. The story is driven by intense and intellectual solutions rather than relying on action and brutality. The objective of the book is to draw readers into a realm where they are confronted with deep and subtly developing mystical elements. Although Traces is full of hints regarding mysteries, it still manages to conceal that which is concealed. Traces might lead you to find your own special path, or you might lose track of the traces revealed if you, as a reader and tracer, are not sufficiently aware. Can you manage to resist the urge to find out?

Traces is the first book of the TML-trilogy, based on U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s warning about three great threats to freedom and democracy: the military-industrial complex, global banking and the scientific-technological elite. Although Daniel and Marie’s brief but passionate relationship takes place in the first book of the trilogy, its significance is not revealed until the final book. Some of the mysteries in Traces might seem unbelievable and, in truth, even the author was unaware of some of the strange synchronicities that eventually, in the third book, would provide a scientific explanation for these mysterious elements.

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Guest Post:
I’m so excited to have Dan stop by today. He comes to talk about what he fears. Read and enjoy!
Hi, I’m Daniel. You asked about my biggest fears? I would like to say that I don’t have any, but that would be a lie, wouldn’t it? Or, perhaps, it would mean that I suffer from some kind of disorder involving a ‘lack of fear’. Well, I’m not afraid of what’s going to happen to me. I get adrenaline rushes, lots of them, and they occasionally cause me to have blanks in my memory, but it doesn’t cause me to be afraid. The worst possible scenario is death and I’m not afraid of dying. I believe it would actually be the most beautiful experience in a man’s life. If I have to pick one thing I do fear, it’s a fear of hurting my soul. And of that, I am scared shitless.

Molly: What music, if any, do you listen to when you write?
Alexander: I follow a ritual before starting to write, and part of the ritual is to listen to the same record every time. The record depends on the book I’m writing and in the case of “Traces”, it was Procol Harum’s “Grand Hotel”. The opening song helped me get directly into the story. There is always music playing in the background while I am writing, but it has to be something that suits the story. With “Traces”, I was inspired by lounge music from the mid-2000s.
Molly: Are you a full time writer, or part time writer?
Alexander: I’m a full-time writer/speaker.
Molly: What was the transition like between part time and full time writer?
Alexander: I jumped directly from business life into writing. The transition was quite easy, because my mentality is more geared to working alone. I was so tired of my former profession and writing has always been my dream.
Molly: Do you have a word count per day you try to hit?
Alexander: I have no numerical targets. The story happens by itself, and I just write it down. I usually manage to write about 2000 words per day when I am actually writing. I spend a lot of time studying the background for my stories and, sometimes, that process can take months.
Molly: When you finish writing a book, how long before you begin writing the next one?
Alexander: I could start a new book within a week or two if I didn’t have to do all the work required to get my books published. There is no shortage of ideas, but I just have a lack of time and resources.

Exclusive Excerpt:
I opened the front door and thought I heard, just then, the sound of the electric lock on the grated steel door to the stairwell. I was, however, still inside the apartment, so I couldn’t be sure. As I stepped over the threshold, I immediately realized that something was wrong. I felt as if my thoughts were mixing with those of someone else and I sensed that this other person was afraid. I considered going back into the apartment, but then I would have been trapped. I remained in the hallway. I was closing the door when I felt a familiar shiver run up my spine. My instincts told me to move as silently as possible. I decided to shut the door by first opening the lock, ensuring that the bolt wouldn’t make an audible click when the door closed. I forced my thumb and forefinger into the mouth of the lock and slipped the key in between them to cushion the sound of the key in the lock. I lifted up on the door handle to prevent the door from scraping against the doorframe, since it hung heavily on its hinges. Once the door was shut, I quietly released the lock and pulled the key carefully out from between my fingers.

All of my senses were so heightened that it felt as if they were utilizing the full capacity of my brain. I was sure that if I had a dog, it would have been bearing its teeth and growling down the stairs. I smelled the slightest whiff of cigarette smoke, the kind that lingers on the breath after smoking. My hearing was so sensitive that I could hear the beating of my own heart in my ears. The stairwell was unusually silent, so silent it raised the hair on my neck. Someone was at the bottom of the stairs and didn’t want to be discovered. The stairs spiraled so that one couldn’t see more than half a floor in either direction. I couldn’t risk exposing myself by peering down, but then again, that ensured that no one saw me from below either. Since my apartment was on the third floor, it would take several seconds to reach my floor, even at a running pace. Anyone trying to sneak up would move slower and the merciless creaking of the wooden staircase would reveal the person’s movements.

I didn’t have time to think about the reasons behind these events. I made a decision to head up the stairs in the hope that whoever it was hadn’t heard me leaving my apartment. If he tried the front door and succeeded in opening it, he would assume I had left the building. Then I was sure I would get the opportunity to slip out. I had often heard the creaking of the upper stairs from my bathroom, so I knew that I had to move without placing my full weight on any single step. Luckily, the stairwell had railings on both sides, so I grabbed hold of them and stepped carefully along the decorative edge of the stairs. My first step nearly slid off the edge, so I used the railing to further lighten my weight and succeeded to creep slowly upward. My progress up the stairs took a painfully long time and so I decided to stop at the next floor to listen.

I didn’t hear anything, so for a moment, I thought I had imagined the whole thing. My balancing act had released so much adrenaline into my bloodstream that it had almost entirely extinguished my fear. My senses returned to their state of heightened awareness as soon as I stopped exerting myself. For a moment I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary, but suddenly I recognized the strong cigarette smell, even stronger than I had earlier. Whoever it was had gotten closer! I listened with the utmost concentration, but I didn’t hear anything. At least that’s what I initially thought. As humans, we are not accustomed to complete silence or to hearing sounds that can barely be heard. Suddenly, I understood that I had, in fact, been hearing something, but my brain hadn’t been used to processing such soft sounds. Faced with an extremely dangerous situation, the resources of my brain grew to inhuman proportions, enabling me to detect the sounds of cautious movements. Now I could tell that I was listening to the single-minded activities of not one, but several people moving in a tight space. They were at my door only half a floor below, a few meters from where I stood!

I took deep breaths to try and calm myself, but I was still able to smell my own fear. I wondered about my odds if I were to be discovered. The worst case scenario would be that they would detect me, but wouldn’t let on that they knew where I was. If that were the case, the only advantage I had, namely the element of surprise, would shift from my hands to theirs. If, on the other hand, I noticed that I had been spotted by one of them, I would have to attack the person in a blind fury before he had time to recover from the split second of astonishment he felt after seeing me. I would try to use him as my shield, since they were likely carrying firearms. After that, my only hope would be to grab one of their guns and arm myself. It would also be very bad luck if one of the upstairs neighbors happened to choose this moment to come down the stairs. I wasn’t at all sure I could convince someone not to expose me simply by placing my finger to my lips. That was when I remembered my cell phone. Damn it, I had forgotten to silence the ring tone! My thoughts raced. A significant amount of time had passed and I should already be in the cab, calling to Lisa. That would mean she would be calling any minute now to find out where I was.

About Alexander:
Alexander Jalo, M.Sc. (Tech.), born in 1961, is a Finnish author. In his youth, he was passionate about mathematics as well as chess and, later, programming, but he realized that, given his character, he would likely drift too deeply into his own inner world if he focused seriously on any one area. Writing became his means of venting his creativity, while the different fields of research remained his intellectual hobby. These fields included history, economics, international politics, mathematics, quantum physics, human physiology, and chess opening theory. In 2008, at the age of 47, he retired from a successful business career and decided to fulfil his dream to become an author and use all his findings to paint a holistic view of today’s world order. He currently lives in Finland.

Traces is the first part of a trilogy that was originally written in Finnish. The remaining two books, Moves and the Light, will also soon be published in English.

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