Welcome, traveller ...

Here the curious reader can follow the progress of the forthcoming new two-volume novel "Brent" by Norwegian
author Morten Jorgensen a.k.a. me. Here you will find
links that will give you some background for the books,
problems that I solve or questions that I ponder may be introduced, reports from my travels on research missions
for "Brent" may appear, news may break on this blog,
excerpts may be published.

Here all shall be revealed. In due time ...


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Tuesday, 27 September 2011


The key to writing an exciting novel is thoroughness and depth.
Time is the only factor that should be allowed to influence the search for perfection. I mean, I can't very well go for a hover fly Ph.D. before I write about them, can I? This is as far as it goes.


When I left Oslo, I defined nine tasks for the BRENT Research Mission to Beijing, China.
#1: to locate a restaurant that does not exist.

Check. I have even found a brilliant way to make it reasonably invisible.

#2: construct a real world flight route from a certain existing hotel in the city center

Check, although I modified it slightly, including moving the hotel out of the city center, to Sanlitung, adding more texture to that particular chapter in BRENT. The changes are all to the better. I am particularly happy with adding the hutong culture of Beijing into the plot.

#3: find and connect with as many as 10-15 people from a certain sociographic group that will participate as model characters in this sequence.

Check, although it took only one person to help me, and as I did not manage to get in touch with the punks and tradskins of Beijing in beforehand, I had to change the plot. But again to the better. The new story solves a more general problem in both volumes, a problem I have been struggling with for quite some time. It even includes a great punchline.

#4: locate a block or two, preferably not too far from Beijing's "main street", Wanfujing,

Check, although it is located slightly round the corner.

#5: locate an existing, rather posh day-time café, where a lunch is served and a stranger shows up.

Check, although not a café, and the stranger will show up in Brussels. The former change was another improvement. It adds a sense of History to the plot. The beef was delicious, the green tea sensational. I actually bought & brought 1/4 kg of this particular type of tea home to Norway. Yummy!

#6: find a given scientific Chinese institution.

Check. Not only that, I was given a tour of the entomological department of the Chinese Academy of Science, talked with or was introduced to up to ten of China's and Beijing's greatest experts on insects and their very talented assisting students: Jackpot.

#7: locate insects belonging to the familiy Syrphidae in some park

Check. Actually, I have several species to choose from, even if I did not get to see them physically in some park myself. But I saw dragonflies and butterflies, and my good Chinese friend Kun was stung by a wasp when we got into the cab, just as we were leaving the Tienanmen area after wrapping up #2.

#8: I shall stay at one, maybe two luxury 5-star hotels, preferably in a suite

Check. However, I decided for logistical reasons a.k.a. avoidance of stress, to stay in just one hotel while I was in Beijing. But I was given a tour in one 5-star hotel, and ate a grandiose lunch in another.

#9: eat dog
Check, although I was saved from actually eating dog. It is a myth that the Chinese eat dog. No standard Chinese restaurant in Beijing serves dog, although there is supposedly dog being served by Koreans, and there are regions in China where dog is eaten. But the Beijingers love their dogs. And cats. However, I did eat donkey, and I did gag at the table.

In the original planned plot, before arriving in Beijing, Brent was fearing that he would have to eat dog, and, alas, and to his
shagrin, his nightmare comes true at a formal reception dinner, where he's not able to refuse. It would have been absurd to stick to the original plot.
So I can happily state that my mission to Beijing was an indisputable success, but what more is, I got what I
really wanted: A glimpse of how the world will look like in BRENT, when China - and India - are the dominant powers on Earth. I was lucky enough to get friends already from day one, and with their help and their patience with my many questions, I think I also got a pretty good notion of how the modern grass roots Chinese man and woman think, at least in Beijing, something which will most certainly prove invaluable for the entire BRENT project.

All the 9 #above-mentioned tasks are related to events taking place in BRENT Volume 2, but the dominant Chinese global position will be obvious also in Volume 1. I could not really bargain for this insight. I mean, I was staying for just 10 days. It took me four or five trips before I even started to understand the soul of Scotland, just to mention one example. In Finland it felt as if I was on a another planet, despite the regional closeness to Norway.

But, thus, I can now see clearly before me the 4-star Chinese general and the stunning daughter of the future Chinese president, both appearing in Volume 1. Yes, I can even see how she's dressed, what make-up she is wearing.
Thanks to everyone who has shown an interest in my Beijing trip on different social media. A special thanks to Otto Malmgren for his invaluable advice on Beijing. I hade very little time for anything but Norwegian Facebook updates while in Beijing. But my observations and analysis of China will be parlayed on my general blog INTERMASHONAL TIMES in the weeks to come.

Read all about the Eagles of Chinese skyscrapers, the Beijing dress code, the Steroid Man from Australia, my drinking challenge, China vs. Greece, pork soup served from the pot deep inside a hutong, why Chinese hipsters don't care a damn about Facebook, a Jaco Pastorius fan playing "La Paloma Ade", Foodstuff Ltd and the Merrilyn Hotel, the Beijing street with ten guitar stores, Eurocentric myths and China's answer, and more.

*"If DVDs can have Extras, I can have pre-Exstras for BRENT." (M. Jorgensen, 2010)

Saturday, 17 September 2011

BEIJING DIARY, PART 03: A love affair

Before I arrived, I suspected that I would enjoy Beijing. But this is as close to love at first sight as it possibly can get. I actually feel slightly ridiculous, like a teenager. I simply love this city, irrevocably, enthusiastically, and nothing can change it.

It is not due to the fact that I get bottled Guinness here, it is not because of the yummy beef dish that I ate somewhere in the Ghost Street-area, not even caused by the woman who left her car and crossed the street because she saw that I was lost, it's not one thing or one experience, it's Beijing.

I am of course fully aware of the danger of superficial orientalism, but it's not that. It's love, pure and simple. Walking the streets, meeting the people, the scents, the sounds, the lack of pretentiousness. It's the diversity, the relaxed atmosphere, the friendliness, whatever. It's something. A something that is - it must be - unique.

Today I was planning to get acquainted with Beijing. When out on a research mission, I never use the normal channels that most novelists use. I walk. Until I get it.

So today I got lost, as I tried to get to the city center, but fortunately I came - by chance or by the will of the Gods - back to where I started. Then I went out to eat, and got lost once more, but I was soon found by a great restaurant in the Ghost Street-area, where I ate a delicious beef dish and was served - out of politeness, I guess - a Carlsberg. To finish a good meal, I asked for a glass of brandy (cognac, rather), but got a quart of some medicine-smelling Chinese spirituosa instead, and got unintentionally drunk.

Then I went back to the hotel, intending to go to Mao Live, but when I finally got there, one-ish, it was closed. Through errors I find my goal.

So instead I ended up drinking Guinness and talking Jaco Pastorius, and I got an offer to perform at an extremely low-key place here in Beijing. The rest of the evening is none of your business, but let's put it this way: I am in Beijing on a mission, and I expected to use at least the weekend before I found the help that I need to fulfill that mission. But unless my ability to judge character has degenerated severely on the Aeroflot Airbus that brought me here, I have already all the help that I need.

Hey, I'm all right. And if you didn't look forward with anticipation to BRENT before, you should start doing it now. By the prickling in my thumb, something brilliant's gonna come.
Because this is going to be just great.

Blame it on Beijing, not me.

BEIJING DIARY, PART 02: Finally installed

Finally, after several delays and postponements, I have finally installed myself in the Andingmen area in the district of Dongcheng in Beijing. I will use the weekend to understand the basic layout of this vast, even gargantuan city of almost 20 million people.

Right now, the mere excitement of being in what will be the heart of the world as we know it, in just a few years, is all-prevailing. But whatever happened to my prelude?


Upon my leaving, several of my friends have said, "Communism ..." etc. "Democracy ..." etc. I say: "China is big. HUGE! China is bigger than Communism." I am not going to Beijing for anything that is even remotely NOW or contemporary. I am going to Beijing to gaze into China's future, to catch a tiny glimpse of what is about to unfold.

There are a little under 5 million people living in Norway, my tiny Northern home country. I am leaving for a country of 1 400 million. There is almost something ridiculous in this comparison of numbers. How insignificant Norway seems as I sip my Roiboos. I start giggling as my thoughts stray to the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, and in my mind's eye I see a Chihuaha - wearing the face of Norwegian Labour politician Torbjørn Jagland - trying to pee on the leg of a Grand Dane.

Some weeks ago I saw an American politician on CNN. Agitated and with conviction he stated something like: "The US must maintain it's leading role in internationl affairs."

It is a pathetic statement. The Chiahuahua has shape-shifted into a Cocker Spaniel, but the picture still looks ridiculous. It makes me think of great, futile speeches made by English politicians one hundred years ago, as the British Empire crumbled and fell, just like the American Empire now is shaking in its very foundations, it's pre-crumble time; deficit, foreign debt, recession, hurricanes, wars lost even before the Americans manage to erect their first McDonald's on the battle field. The Age of China has come, and the Americans may shake, rattle and roll, but their 15 minutes of glory in the 250 000 year old Time of Man are over.

It may take 10 years, 20, 30, it does not matter. China is rising. The ads in the spacious Departure hall at Oslo Gardermoen may in 20 years time all be promoting Chinese products, and the successor of the pretty Swedish blonde at Caffè Ritazza who is serving me a Focaccia anno 2010, may well be serving glass noodles when the year 2047 arrives.

Unlike many of my Norwegian countrymen and -women, I do not worry. The Western world has not exactly been a political or moral example for the world up through the centuries. I do not read History as a succession of various politics. I go for the anthropological approach. China's written history stretches back to the Shang Dynasty, some 3700 years ago. At the time, snotty Norway did not even exist.

As the café radio starts playing Bob Sinclair's Love Generation, I feel part of a giant historical shift, and in my heart there is love for China, my soon-to-be friend, and I look forward to my journey even more. Infatuation for China grips my heart.

I feel small, humbled, insignificant, antish. A Norwegian in Beijing. A speck of dust on China's eternal cloak.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011


Yes, of course I have postponed my research trip to China. With the recent bomb blast in Oslo and the massacre at Utoya, I would not have been able to concentrate on BRENT, had I stuck to my original itinerary. So now, as Norway slowly is returning to something that resembles normality, I can again focus on Beijing. Hopefully, I can board my plane late this month. But my VISA is valid until October, so no worries.

Sunday, 10 July 2011


"What are you going to do in Beijing, then?" people ask me. I am going on research. There are two, maybe three chapters from Beijing in Volume 2 of BRENT.

So this is what I am going to do:

I have to locate a restaurant that does not exist. All I know, is that it is situated somewhere south of the city center.

Secondly, I must in detail construct a real world flight route from a certain existing hotel in the city center, to the above-mentioned part of the city. This chase covers streets, shops, malls and other buildings, a whole lot of them, we are talking zig-zag and all over the place.

There shall be no artificial constructions, I shall actually describe a possible course of flight. It may take a whole day, even two. Beijing is BIG.

Thirdly, I have to find and connect with as many as 10-15 people from a certain sociographic group that will participate as model characters in this sequence.

Fourth, I must locate a block or two, preferably not too far from Beijing's "main street", Wanfujing, that will be demolished sometime in the future. There I shall erect my stately fictious building. I will find a location, and in fiction wreck people from their homes, and then wreck their houses.

Fifth, I have to locate an existing, rather posh day-time café, where a lunch is eaten and a stranger shows up.

Purpose #6, I shall have to find a given scientific Chinese institution. I shall begin at Beijing Museum of Natural History, Department of Entomology, Beijing 100050. Here I may use a cover-story, I may go under cover as a journalist. Maybe. Well, at least I have an address.

Seven: I must locate insects belonging to the familiy Syrphidae in some park, and I do hope they are to be found everywhere in Beijing.

No. #8: I shall stay at one, maybe two luxury 5-star hotels, preferably in a suite, as they come awfully cheap in Beijing.

Mission number #9 is the only thing I dread. There is no way Morten Jorgensen is going to eat dog. I find it deplorable, detestable, revolting and disgusting. Dogs are my friends, it's like cannibalism. I won't do it.

However, the author Morten Jorgensen has to do it. Yes, I said has to. We are talking, if not Fear Factor, at least "Disgust Factor". I may very well start puking. I will maybe feel sick for a day, maybe more. I may feel in total conflict with my principles, as the vessel for consumption is my body.

But this is method writing. Being there. It's the method to my madness.


(For my most dedicated Followers. Not of interest to the general public. Aspiring writers and writers lesser experienced than myself may, however, and of course, find it stimulating to follow the progress of my forthcoming two-volume novel BRENT. If they would like to see how an experienced novelist actually does it, BRENTBLOG is the place to be.)

Some of my regular readers are complaining these days. "Why are you so much on the internet. You should be writing! When is this book of yours coming, anyway??"

I wrote the draft for my previous novel BANK in six weeks. Writing has always been like cycling or breathing to me. I write easily and effortlessly 10 pages or more a day, which means I could write a book each month, if I so desired.

However, if I were to make a list, after BRENT's release, summing up the total work hours I have spent on it, I doubt that I will have spent more than 10 % of my time physically writing. It's all the other stuff that takes time.

The previous month I have been entirely devoted to figuring out - in my mind - the scenes in BRENT 2 that will take place in Beijing. Measuring, deepening, improving, expanding. Hours upon hours. And now I'm going there.

In this planning and reserach phase, writing is a waste of time. Why write a whole page that is bound to end up in the garbage bin anyway? I write solely when the only remaining work is editing. When I sit down to write, I know exactly what I intend to write. Sometimes I may fail, but I never improvise text. Never.

In BRENT volume 2, the Beijing scenes will occupy less than three chapters, and no more than 30 pages, probably just 15-20. But these Beijing scenes, of which most are extremely demanding, will take me maybe two months to shape, although 90 % of my BRENT active working hours will be spent on research and mind work, not writing.

Writing it is the easy part. It will take me a maximum of three days. Ok, maybe a week, just for the sake of it.

I am not a carpenter, whose tools can be observed. It just does not work that way. My authorship in general and BRENT in particular, are not based on my fantasy alone, BRENT is also based on an enormous amount of retrieval of insight and knowledge, even analysis. And meticulus construction of a complex plot where more than 100 central characters run in and out of pages like ants. Which is why I spend very, very little time writing.

My distinguished Norwegian-Czech colleague Mikael Konupek once said, when asked what he considered the most difficult thing about being an author. He answered: "Having my family understand on a daily basis that when I sit in a sofa with my hands behind my head, I am actually working."

Maybe struggling with something the carpenter would display quite visibly as a problem. The house must stand. The board must be 100 % even in order to fit, and in level at that.

After two years, I am still not happy with the end of volume two. I have tried ten different versions, like a film editor doing Editor's Cut, and still I am dissatisfied. It follows me when I watch football, when I play "Starcraft", when I eat, and when I sleep. Not the text, it is the logic that is fawlty. I could write it a million times, and it would still suck.

It will come to me. It always does. It's part of the process. The only difference between my previous books and BRENT, is that while the others contained a handfull of problems, BRENT is stuffed with problems.

Why are so many books crap? Because authors cut corners and choose simple solutions and bland depictions of people and places they don't really have any idea about, pages upon pages of stuff that belongs in a tourist brochure, or can be found on Wikipedia. But I for one, do not rehash Wikipedia articles, I go looking for the unique or something that gets the unique out in me.

So know this, my oh so impatient ones: This author spends most of his time in his mind, not by the keyboard. And he has still 800 pages to go before you can read about Beijing.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

AUTHOR'S DIARY 01: Scriptus prematurus.

(For my most dedicated Followers. Not of interest to the general public. Aspiring writers and writers lesser experienced than myself may, however, and of course, find it stimulating to follow the progress of my forthcoming two-volume novel BRENT. If they would like to see how an experienced novelist actually does it, BRENTBLOG is the place to be.)

At five o'clock on a Sunday morning I find myself writing on my novel BRENT, not just editing, for the first time in a year. My one year sabbathical in the middle of the process has lead to a pre-avalanche stage of writing. Containment has gradually become difficult, now as I am en route to Beijing on research. I can no longer control the impulse to write, I can no longer repress it. At least not this morning, sleep-walking as I sitt down to write.

Not good. I have stuff to do before I board the plane. Lotsa stuff.

On the other hand, the distance in time, and one full year's constant brain-chewing of the previous partial draft, has led to a new and better understanding of what improvements I need to make in the text, as I was not at all happy with the four or five last chapters I wrote around New Year 2010.

I was expecting this by-product of abstainance and abstinence, so it is confidence-building to see it manifest, even prematurely at that, somewhat beyond my control. As it means raising the bar just a little bit more. I am happy to see my own semantic ambitions growing; I'm absoluetly fine with that. I mean, I'm not the dryest of writers, so why write so barrenly and boring like I did at the time I went sabbathical?

This morning, I have written what may become a whole chapter. It's a full chapter sequence, at least. Five pages, mostly dialogue, and five pages is OK, it's good, it means I would have a full draft in 100 days. However, when I write at maximum speed, which I will do in a few weeks, maybe already in Beijing, I can write 20-30 pages a day, sometimes more. If I am ready to read lotsa proof and rewrite most of it, that is.

I can - naturally - not go too much into details, but this morning I have written about the future of space exploration and space travel, mostly in the form of an all-Scottish dialogue, and I have let the aspiring Captain tell F-Crew how they are going to change the history of Space, but without being killed or jailed, at least not in the Near Earth Orbit zone.

Five pages and the sun is shining. Some novelists have most problems with writing. They need "inspiration", as they call it. Some are content with a paragraph or a page a day. I don't, and I'm not. My problems are of a different order. I have problems with details, that is, I spend so much time on details that one paragraph can take me weeks and months to get right. I'm extremely pedantic. I'm a slow thinker and a slow mover, trapped in the body of a manic speed-writer. The draft for BANK, my previous novel, took me just six weeks to write. But BANK was a piece of cake. BRENT is an author's nightmare in a certain sense. No sleep for the wicked.

As I go stark raving mad if anyone disturbs me while I am writing, I prefer the night and the early mornings. Also because I do not want my friends to hate me.

So I can't start now, absolutyely not, or people who consider me reasonably sane, will find me ranting and/or raging if they should be so unfortunate, as to call me while I'm in writing mode. Not all the time, but often enough.

I need calm and space to write. Or sense-numbing zeal on the border of momentary fixation. Plus time. Lotsa time.

Anyway - and fortunately - I can not, not, not continue writing to-day, I have other things to do.
But me toes tickle. Now for some news and breakfast. Discipline!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011


After a full year's intermission, I have finally returned to BRENT. Today I have been to see my physician, and I was given diphteria-, hepatitis- and tetanus shots, a prelude to the global research-phase which I am now facing. My first destination is Beijing, China, in June, to locate a certain future building, and I am also on the look-out for a nice, freindly neighbourhood for a particular restaurant, i.e. The Righteous Gentlemen etc.

I am looking immensely forward to these journeys, and you will be able to follow my travels on Gowalla and Twitter and other media. Details will follow.
Publish Post


This is the Dassault Vehra, a compact small spacecraft of great versalitity and flexibility. An impressive machine, indeed.