Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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These are not the cavemen you are looking for

The things one learns! While I juggle writing jobs (having divided my day in three chunks – morning, afternoon and after-dinner), I am reading – mostly at lunchtime – and looking for missing bits of documentation. And considering I am revising a neolithic-style story, I thought it might be fun to check out a few novels about the primitive world. I love Burroughs’ Land That Time Forgot and Pellucidar series, and I think I have already mentioned Lin Carter’s Zanthodon. And then, in a totally different league, there’s Kim Stanley Robinson’s Shaman.
But I am game for more – this might be the right time to go to the library and check out a copy of Clan of the Cave Bear.
Is there anything else? Let’s look around for some new reading stuff.
Well, this is the twenty-first century – so I googled “caveman books”, and I found a big fat list on Goodreads, twenty-five pages and… oh!

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From Lemuria to Opar

I am putting the finishing touches on a 12.000 words novella in what I, being old-fashioned (or just plain old) would call the science fantasy subgenre. It’s something long overdue, that I promised to my Patrons a lifetime ago, and that was caught up in too many complications to write here about.
But now here it is. I have a cover, and I am going through a bout of rewriting – which means the story might end up being longer than planned. I hope nobody will complain.

The novella is basically sword & sorcery with a thin patina of science – I took some inspiration from the Recent Dryas Impact Event and some theories about the extinction of the Clovis culture in the Americas, and then threw in a few neanderthals, a few sabretooth tigers (because I like sabretooth tigers), and some evil “Atlantean” ubermensch.
The idea was to tell a story about a primitive man versus a much more advanced but decadent culture.
Being a paleontologist, I had to censor my internal censor – this is fantasy, not a textbook!

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Writing for a living

I have just started a new series on my Patreon page, about the nuts and bolts of writing when writing is not your tool to pull chicks, it’s what pays your bills and keeps you afloat. Nothing fancy, just a series of posts about how I solve certain problems, how I tackle certain issues.
And that’s how I call the series: Nuts & Bolts – Writing to make a living.

I’ll start with one 1000/1500-words post per month, for all those that support me with 1$ or more. Then we’ll see if the thing grows.
These posts will appear on my Patreon page exclusively, both in English and Italian. Because it’s good to be my Patron (or so they say).
Let’s see what happens.


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In London with Jerry Cornelius

On the 7th of January 1992 I landed in London, nursing a bronchitis and a few lines of fever. I rode a taxi to my hotel, then went looking for a place to eat a bite. Along the road to a pub, I stopped in a bookshop and bought two books by Michael Moorcock: Mother London and one of the Jerry Cornelius books. Both had the dome of St Paul on the cover. I still think those two books set the tone and the rhythm of my year spent in London.

Now I’ve been commissioned an article about Michael Moorcock. It’s a pro bono job, and I’ve been given total control on the subject, the word-count, the style. And I’m thinking I will do a piece about London in the works of Michael Moorcock.

And what better occasion to finally get me a copy of Modern Times 2.0, a Jerry Cornelius adventure which comes bundled with an interview to the author and an article in which he reminisces about London.
One of those cases in which doing research is a good opportunity to have fun.


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Occasional ghosts

One of my various sources of income as a writer is a series of history articles I am writing for an Italian magazine – pieces about characters and events from the history of Turin and of the Piedmont area. It’s a fun job that so far has helped pay the bills and the house insurance in particular, and it hinges on two of my long-standing interests, history and doing research.

Right now I have a nice list of future topics to explore and today I went into the tragic life of a young woman – a member of the Savoy upper class that lived a tragic existence in Turin and met a sad end in the 18th century. What is usually called “a footnote on the pages of history”, but of possible interest for the readers of the magazine, as it’s part of the local history and, indeed, of the local folklore.

Because as I did some research today about the character of the late Elena Matilde, her ghost appeared in the documents and chronicles – bringing my historical work into the field of the occult and the paranormal. This angle is not what my client is interested in, and yet I will add a few paragraphs on the subject. Because maybe my readers do not believe in ghosts, but they might be fascinated by how a tragic incident hit so hard the popular imagination, that a ghost story arose in the aftermath.


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The other Van Helsing

I was watching Brides of Dracula last night. The 1960 Hammer movie directed by Terence Fisher does not feature Dracula at all – the Count is name-checked in the title and in the spoken intro – and given for dead – and the main vampire in the picture is Baron Meinster (David Peel), on the rampage in search of young women’s blood in an out-of-the-way corner of Transylvania. It’s a good fun movie, with a lot of original touches, despite the presence of a very dodgy bat. And of course there’s Yvonne Monlaur, that is absolutely gorgeous, in the role of student teacher Marianne Danielle – the damsel in distress of the piece, all the way from Paris to Transylvania to get in a whole lot of trouble.

And we get Peter Cushing, reprising his role as Doctor Van Helsing. Maybe.

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