Tuesday, May 27, 2014


1)      The name of my main character is Michel Denis  - the man with two forenames as he is called. Denis is a front physician in 1916 in France and has recently suffered an amputation of his right arm as a result of a shrapnel blast. Before the war started, he was a psychiatrist in training. At the front he will be confronted with a very peculiar case of shellshock, an affliction of the mind caused by the terrible pressure of the war that in those times was not recognized. The military brass was of the opinion that soldiers suffering from shellshock were in reality cowards who faked a mental distortion. Often, they were court-martialed and shot by a firing squad.
2)      The story is set in 1916 in the Argonne, a northern part of France, during WW1, but also in 1875 in Saint Maclou, in  1889 during the opening of the first World Fair in Paris, in 1894 in Vienna (with dr. Breuer, Freud’s teacher, in a leading role) and in 1911 in Paris.

3)      Michel Denis,  in spite of the rigid military distinction between ranks of that time secretly in love with the front-nurse Marie Estrange, will learn in the mental institute of Bron ( a community in the vicinity of the French city Lyon), where he completes his psychiatric training since he’s no longer valuable at the front after missing one arm, that the human mind is capable to produce the most wondrous delusions. Denis can’t avoid asking himself difficult questions: what, precisely, is a delusion? Who can tell with certainty what’s real and what’s not. When does reality change into delusion, why and how?

4)      The main conflict in “The Shadow of the Mole” is the difference  between the “outer world” – in this case an extremely dangerous reality because of the war – and the “inner world”, in this case a mysterious power which seems to have predictive qualities. Hidden underneath is a family drama that is the source of all the distortions of reality in the novel.

5)      To understand the human mind in all its complexity and, in a way, its infinitude in creating worlds within worlds within worlds, personae within personae within personae.

6)      The working title is “The Shadow of the Mole”. I have just written the first draft and such a draft is definitely not for the eyes of the readers J. I produce at least three drafts before I send a manuscript  to an editor.

7)      After having published “Baudelaire’s Revenge” in the USA, Pegasus Books has an option on the following novel, in this case “The Shadow of the Mole”. I hope to present the manuscript  in September/October of this year and, if accepted, the novel would then be published in 2015, I suppose.


  1. "Baudelaire's Revenge" is a masterpiece, which makes me look forward to Bob's new book. Patience until 2015 will be amply rewarded!

  2. It sounds simply marvelous, Bob! Thank you for sharing this intriguing excerpt, and for hosting it, Marta. That transition from being the physician to being in need of one, particularly when set against such suffering and trauma - it seems a wonderful perspective to explore, and I greatly look forward to becoming acquainted with your work.

  3. Thank you for your comment, P.J. I hope that the novel will be as intriguing as this short outline....Working hard on it. It will be my last historical novel I'm afraid. The research is becoming too exhausting for my old bones :-) :-) Or else I've published too many novels and this is Time's Revenge :-) :-) Success!