Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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My theme is stronger than yours

The market is shifting at a heady speed hereabouts – and if not the market in itself, the way in which the authors marketed themselves. This morning I caught a colleague (an excellent writer, indeed) explaining that his fantasies always tackle strong themes under a thin patina of fantasy adventure. A thin patina that includes “hard knocks”, “big boobs” and “100% fanservice”, probably, considering that up to two days ago the same author was signalling those as the selling points of his fantasies.

This makes me feel infinitely tired, because I am really tired of this constant, desperate, aggressive hustling – writers trying to sell themselves as the answer to this week’s taste: this week is social awareness and “strong themes”, next week might be ultra-violence and mindless mayhem.
If it sells, it’s what I’m doing.
The quality of the story, and the quality of the writing, are becoming meaningless, when instead they might be sufficient to hook the reader.

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Something that should not be done

One should never write about a book before reaching at least the midpoint – how otherwise could we express our opinions in an informed, intelligent way?
But sometimes a little enthusiasm is OK, and so, while my e-reader tells me I am 4% into the book I am currently reading, I think I’ll give it a shout-out, because after forty-odd years spent reading, and reading imaginative fiction, I think I developed a certain instinct.
And this is a good book.

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One short story in one afternoon

Today I am writing a short story.
Big news, you say. Sue me.
A stand-alone one shot, that still has ties with stuff I did in the past. I’m improvising most of it, but I still have a general outline of sorts for the first half. It’s going to be in the 5000/6000 words range.
The plan is to hammer out a first draft, have dinner, and then clean it up. Then I’ll mail it off to the editor, and hope he likes it enough to buy it.
Otherwise, I’ll look for another market.

These days are particularly stressful for a number of motives, and focusing completely on a short story, to be started and finished in one afternoon, is a good way to keep my mind frpm getting caught up in useless worries. There’s problems, and big problems, but problems on which I do not have any control. So, all I can do is wait and see, and face the music.
And try to keep sane.

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Raiders of the Lost Franchise: The Land that Time Forgot

My friend Lucy is doing a Halloween-month series of posts about the Amicus anthology horrors from the ’70s, and talking about the Amicus films, I remembered a pillar of my young education – the Amicus productions of the Edgar Rice Burroughs Novels, The Land that Time Forgot and The People that Time Forgot, plus At The Earth’s Core.
All three movies were directed by Kevin Connor and featured Doug McClure.

So I went and re-watched The Time that Land Forgot, the first and certainly the best of the three movies.

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Music and Old Ones

I have just had a pitch accepted by a pretty high profile anthology, for some modern day lovecraftian horror. “Pitch accepted” means “hmm, sounds cool, can you write it? We might buy it.”
It’s actually much better than it sounds. So I am doing some research for the story, because one thing I find it intriguing, when writing Lovecraftian stories, is to lean on the science fiction side.

The pitch was an off the cuff sort of thing.
I saw the call, I pitched a story, based… listen this because it’s weird… based on the idea I am going to explore next on my Patreon podcast, Ten Minutes Till the Savages Come.
Because nothing goes to waste hereabouts, and any idea that can be used twice is twice as good.

An idea, in this case, that sits at the intersection of music, psychology and philosophy, and that’s backed by a thick pile of articles – most of them available online – that I am reading.

In the course of my research – that now goes to feed TWO projects – I am also getting the chance to listen to some cool music.
Like this…

Really, this writing business is getting more fun by the hour.


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Burning down the Library of Alexandria

I have just finished the translation/revision/rewrite of my old story The Cursed Hieroglyph, hat I have half an idea of re-titling The Thing in the Library.
It’s been a lot of hard work, but I am quite satisfied with the results – Nennius Britannicus and his boys came out of it bruised and singed but certainly wiser, and the Great Library of Alexandria was burned down once again.
I mentioned this was, historically, quite a common occurrence.

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