East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Back to the Empty Places


A while back I wrote a one-shot horror short story called The Smell of Empty Places, that was translated in Italian by horror maestro Samuel Marolla, and became part of the anthology Dark Italy, by Acheron Books, thus making me an Italian writer that is published in translation in his own country.

While we wait for the English edition of Dark Italy to come out, I chanced upon an open call from an English-language publisher, that looked tailor made for my story, and has a ten-days deadline. But of course I can’t sell them my old story, because it belongs to Acheron Books.

But, I thought, what about revisiting the same universe, telling a different story in the same setting? 

And so here I am, juggling my time and trying to put together fast 5000 words of a story once again exploring the cracks that the crisis on 2009 opened in the social structure of the town where I grew up, and the creatures that live in those cracks.

The Smell of Empty Places has been the way in which I channeled my anger, fear and frustration after the death of my father, and the bad turn my life – and my brother’s – had taken. In three years things have changed little, and while we have learned to manage and to keep going despite it all, I’ve seen the lights slowly but steadily go down in my country. The monsters I described two years ago in that story are stronger, probably bolder about their being monsters.

Turin view
The place where I grew up.

I have a lot of fear, frustration and anxiety, and anger to channel again, but right now the personal issues are compounded with the general issues. The future is dark in my country.

I still don’t have a title, but I have a lot of images, and a sequence of scenes. And fuel for the fires. With a little effort, I’ll make the deadline.

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.

3 thoughts on “Back to the Empty Places

  1. This is what a writer does, doesn’it? Channelling inner and outer turmoils into events and using them in a story as a poet uses verses in a poem. Eager to read Dark Italy now.


  2. Coraggio, Davide. Viviamo in tempi …. interessanti… Ma la luce c’è. Ciao!


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