East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

File under ‘hype’ – a new story coming soon



There’s a new story coming.
First in a series, hopefully – with two other shorts in the works.
The beta readers just sent  in their reports, my editrix did her magic on the text, the cover’s ready, now time for a final re-reading and a check of my sometimes quirky (as in “wrong”) English, and we’ll be all set to go.

The story has a strange genesis.
The main characters, Roman centurion Aculeo and Aegyptian princess  Amunet, began their life and their unlikely partnership on my Italian-language blog (strategie evolutive), in a series of posts I did on how to use the web and other resources to try and hoodwink the reader into believing the author does know a lot more about a lot of stuff when he writes some kind of historical fiction.

“Let’s say I’m writing a story about a Roman centurion saving a plucky Egyptian princess from some lovecraftian horror. Let’s start with their names…”

Using Aculeo and Amunet as examples, I built an outline and sketched some characters, throwing in some handy references and a few details; and I did in fact hoodwink my blog readers into believing I knew what I was talking about.
Nice and smooth.

Fast forward two years.
I chanced upon a call for stories mixing sword & sorcery and lovecraftian elements, from a well respected, high profile American publisher.
I was fast resurrecting Aculeo and Amunet, and the hastily outlined short story from those old blog posts – a historical fantasy set in the delta of the Nile, in the Third Century a.D.
I wrote an 8000 words tale which was, alas, too long to fit the publisher requirements.
It had a strong debt with Robert E. Howard‘s masterful The Slithering Shadow, but it was still a serviceable sword & sorcery yarn.
Resorting to some fast trickery, I cut the excess 3000 words – including the prologue – and still preserved the central core of the story, most of the action, and quite a chunk of wriggling horror.
Swords & Sorcery.
Sex & Tentacles.
I called the story Mistress of the Swamp God – a classy act.
Rushing it through a single beta reader, I proofed the manuscript myself and sent it dangerously close to the deadline.
It was rejected, and rightly so: it was a rush job, weak in spots, with still a few typos.
You can’t hoodwink them all, all the time.

English: Centurion (Roman army) historical ree...

And yet I liked very much these two guys.
I could see the chemistry developing between them, I could imagine future adventures, as they moved around the Mediterranean and maybe, who knows, towards points east along the Silk Road.
So I let the story sleep for a few months, and then went back to it with a fresh mind, no word-count limits and no deadlines, trying to restore the original or, maybe, even write a better story.
I worked simply reading and re-reading the manuscript, and slipping in the bits that were missing, that felt like they should be there.

Now thework is (almost) done.
The result of this twisting development path will be my second English-language, author-published fiction ebook.

It’s called Bride of the Swamp God.
because it sounds better than the old title)

Beyond that, who can say?
As I said, I have two other stories outlined already, and lots of ideas, and maybe, one of these nights, I’ll go back to Aculeo and Amunet’s adventures.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

4 thoughts on “File under ‘hype’ – a new story coming soon

  1. Please correct the title. 🙂


  2. Hahahaha – I REALLY need a copyeditor!


  3. Pingback: Bride of the Swamp God – the cover | Karavansara

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