East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Asia Overland

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Back in 2003, I think, I wrote the following, in an article which appeared in the magazine LibriNuovi, published in Turin

The day I’ll start writing Clive Cussler-style adventure yarns (ehi, why not?) the Silk Road and the Taklamakan desert will be a central element in my stories.

Well, having written a few sword & sorcery stories set between the Roman Empire and the Chinese Empire, I sort of kept half of that promise.

And now that I’m working on a honest-to-goodness pulp adventure tale set in the Taklamakan area, well, I think I can say the promise is fulfilled completely.
Or it will be as soon as my story gets published.

Now, as I have already mentioned, short stories are not novels – not only in terms of word count, but also in terms of documentation.
Putting together historical, geographical and accessory informations for a novel may take months.
A short story must be dealt with in a quicker way.

I already mentioned my collection of travel guides – and described how useful a thing like Trailblazers’ The Silk Road can be when writing a story.

11661_img-7081848-0001Right now, that first guide has been supplemented with another book from my collection – the absolutely gorgeous Asia Overland, by Bijan Omrani, published by Odyssey Books & Guides.

Filled with maps, photos, satelite images and other wonders, this massive 540+ volume is a compendium of traveler wisdom about the overland routes crossing Eurasia: the Transiberian, the Silk Road, the Mughal Route.
There’s historical overviews and snippets from diaries and letters, there’s hands-on information for contemporary travelers and historical maps to see how things changed thoroughtheyears.
This is exactly what a writer might need to fill in the details, add flavour, and succeed in that sleight-of-hand trick that is convincing the reader he, the writer, knows everything.

The downside?
It’s such a good book, one ends up reading (or re-reading it) it for the sheer enjoyment of the narrative – and this can prove time consuming, and too good an excuse for procrastination.
But it’s all good and fine in the name of research.

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.

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