Gustav Preller was born in Cape Town into a well known South African literary and artistic family. He started writing only in his retirement after 36 years with multinational corporations in Johannesburg, Frankfurt, Zürich, Hamburg, Cape Town, and Manchester, his diverse career taking him from Unilever management trainee to heading up advertising agencies, a sports goods company, and, finally, a bank.
When he’s not writing he surfs longboards, rides his mountain bike, fishes, and plays chess. He also studied karate for 16 years, attaining his 3rd Dan black belt in JKA Shotokan and running his own dojo.
He’s married and lives on Kwazulu-Natal’s north coast. He has two sons, one in Hong Kong and the other in the USA.
His debut novel, Icarus over Hong Kong, was published in 2009 by Pegasus UK. The Twelfth Delegate followed in 2011. His third novel, Last Train to Retreat, was released as a Kindle e-book in 2013.
In his first novel, Icarus over Hong Kong, rookie trader Rorke Summers flies too high. High stakes, high bonuses, high living – in Hong Kong and Macau he is seduced by them all. He is caught up in triangles of passion, betrayal and death. And in the most feared triangle of all: that of the Chinese triads. Pick up this novel and you will not want to put it down. It gives insights into financial trading and casinos and into the dark world that exists behind the Hong Kong’s glittering veneer.
“Four people, three missions, one deadly appointment with fate” is the poster line for Gustav Preller’s second novel, The Twelfth Delegate. But behind the thriller format there is gravitas – the book takes violent crime in South Africa head-on, as well as the scourges of religious and secular extremism afflicting the world today. A novel rich in irony, it creates almost unbearable suspense as it moves between Johannesburg, Paris, Provence, Algiers, and the Cape winelands.
In 2015 Preller submitted an unpublished manuscript and won the annual, international 2015 Proverse Prize in Hong Kong. The book is expected to be published by Proverse Publishing later this year (2016).
Extract from Icarus over Hong Kong:
Rorke’s trained eye saw the swell long before it got to the sandbank where he was pausing a hundred metres from the shore. He knew that big swells loved to vent their fury on sand banks. Coming from way beyond the shark nets a swell would suddenly sense shallower water ahead. It would refuse to slow down, gathering pace instead, rear up like an angry cobra, and strike down with force onto the thing that had come in its way.
He knew that retreat was out of the question. He swam towards the swell coming for him at speed. Up and up it reared, graceful, beautiful. He suddenly dived, down, down, until he found sand, and dug into it with toes and fingers to anchor him. He heard a loud swoosh above him, felt the surge, then the wave breaking just behind him, its force buffeting him, nearly prising him from the bottom.
He stayed put like a manta ray hugging the sand then propelled himself upward at a forty-five degree angle. As he broke the surface another swell was rearing up. A set of waves often caused people to drown because it gave them no time to catch their breath, and they panicked. But Rorke swam strongly towards it and this time cleared the crest. He was now beyond the break line. The choppy horizon has disappeared; sky and sea created a seamless blue-black bruise in the southwesterly buster. He could just make out the buoys holding up the nets as he rose with the swell. He thought about the previous afternoon. Jack had been civil at the reception, said thank you for Rorke’s contribution towards the funeral costs, and expressed his regret at Henry’s death. But he had said nothing about Vicky and his betrayal of his brother. ‘I think I’ve screwed up, Rorkie’ had meant nothing after all. Was it Jack the proud macho man again? Showing softness had never been his strength.
With a few powerful strokes Rorke caught the next wave. He made his body rigid and tucked his arms by his side like an Egyptian statue, and slid down the slope. His right leg came up as a rudder as he thrust his body into the shoulder of the wave. Then the white water came, as he knew it would, and he put his head down and rode it almost all the way to the beach.
After the third wave he dragged himself onto the sand, exhausted, elated.
He looked up at the North Beach skyline. Would he ever come back now that his father and his relationships with Jack and Vicky had all been buried? Durban had a smaller and shabbier feel to it than he could remember. There seemed to be nothing left here for him except the sensation of riding glorious waves. And that he could buy anywhere in this world, and so much more, once he had made his money.
2009. Icarus over Hong Kong. Vanguard Press.
2011. The Twelfth Delegate. Pegasus Elliot Mackenzie Publishers
2013. Last Train to Retreat. Kindle e-book.