East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

You don’t know Jack… but you will


20071128dumplinghouseMany years ago I spent a long night with some friends, eating Chinese and talking writing.
Fueled by Cantonese Rice and Flambé Dumplings, we came to the conclusion that the best ideas are those that feel completely crazy, and that make us a little scared, a little uneasy.
Not so much scared as in a John Carpenter movie, more scared as in “heck, how am I going to pull this one?”

If you can answer that question, you’ve got a good story idea in your hands.

So each one of us, that night, set down his own impossible story idea, and the morning after, these were forgotten.
Or at least tucked away in some dark corner of our memory.

That night, I invented Jack Nada.

Now, the basic premise was pretty straightforward – Jack is a tough PI, a chain-smoking, hard-drinking chandleresque sort of character with a wry sense of humor, the sort that gets punched a lot, pulls all the dames and offers some cynical commentary on society along the way.
With a little twist – Jack dresses like a woman.
And he’s quite an attractive woman, for being a man.

I imagined a character with the attitude of Humphrey Bogart and the looks of Elsa Martinelli (you know I think in images when I develop a story).


I’d call my series Jack Nada, Cross-dressing Detective.

Now the idea was a joke, but a serious joke.
This kind of character would have a high shock value, and he’d provide me a nice opportunity for mocking and criticizing the general machismo of hard-boiled literature and a lot of classic pulps.
The idea was to do something new with something old.
It would be a nice opportunity for being naughty, and fun, and kill a few clichés.

Of course I never did anything with that.
Until last week.
Because, during a bout of insomnia, I finally saw a way for me to answer that fateful question: “heck, how am I going to pull this one?”

jack nada logoNow I know.
And so, as sleep won’t come, I outlined two novellas featuring Jack Nada – two 15/20.000-w0rds science-fiction, vaguely retrofuturistic tales.
The ideas came with a full set of supporting characters and, more important, a background, a universe in which a guy like Jack Nada makes sense.
While still being outrageous.
Mind you, they are still tongue-in-cheek stories I’m planning, but now they are more than just satire – there’s world to explore, there’s some meat to the plots, there’s stuff to be told.
There’s a SF world with its own technology, and society, and aliens.

So, I’m very slowly working on this one as a summer/weekend project.
The idea is to do a book featuring three novellas, and see how it floats.
Should everything work out as I plan, the book will be out on Amazon for Christmas.
I even got me a series logo, and an amazing cover – which, sorry, I will not reveal yet.

And I chose the right moment to dream this thing up (insomnia does have an up side, after all)…
2SLryrAThis will also be the first project of mine to be officially supported by the Moon Base Factory group – a loose gang of creative types (mostly) based in Italy that are pooling their resources to increase the quality of their output, and have fun doing it.
I’ll write more about the MBF soon, but as of now, I am proud of having the guys backing me.

Anyway – the outlines are ready, I’ll start writing in my spare time.
I’ll keep you posted on future developments.

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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.

2 thoughts on “You don’t know Jack… but you will

  1. That sounds absolutely GREAT!
    I can’t wait to read more about this project!
    How I wish that my insomnia would produce similar results too! 🙂


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