East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai



When I was a kid, writing stories on my mother’s Olivetti typewriter, I wanted to be a science fiction writer. I was fascinated by the folklore of the Golden Age of science fiction, the stories of writers that were also characters and, to a kid living in the shadow of the smokestacks in the outskirts of an industrial town, a sort of heroes. I think this is part of a process a lot of writers go through – when you begin, you want to tell stories, yes, but you also want to be like… ah, like Fritz Leiber or Michael Moorcock, in my case, like Jack Williamson or Tanith Lee.

Later it sort of goes away. Your pantheon of gods and heroes expands, and telling stories, being read, becomes the primary force.
Some shift to other purposes – fame, fortune, being interviewed on television, being popular. Often they are people that do not like to write, and do not have stories to tell – they just seek the lifestyle.

I found out yesterday that I am a horror writer or a game writer. These are the two tags that get attached to my name – so much so that I do not normally appear in surveys of fantasy or science fiction writers in my country. But there’s books out there in which I am listed as horror or weird writer, and two weeks ago I was dismissed with a shrug “Ah, yes, you’re a game writer” (implying I do not do Art).

The numbers tell a different story – about 50% of what I wrote and published so far could be classified as fantasy and SF, with a 35% of action/adventure thrillers, and just a meager 15% of horror. This not counting my non-fiction writing, and my game designing.

A few days ago a writer I admire and I respect pointed out on her Facebook profile that she is a writer. Not a fantasy or horror writer, not a feminist writer or a right wing or left wing writer.
Just that: a writer.
Words echoing the old Harlan Ellison routine, in which he took it personally when somebody called him anything but a writer.
There is no need for a further qualification.

Right now I am working on a non-fiction book, on a historical essay, on a science-fantasy novella in the style of Edgar Rice Burroughs and on a fantasy short somewhat in the vein of the old Sprague De Camp/Pratt numbers for Unknown Worlds. I’ve been asked to submit a story for a sword & sorcery anthology, and I am working on the outline for a crime story I will hopefully submit by Easter.
I am writing. That’s it.

I’d love, in the course of 2019, to try and write a western, and also try to break into new markets. I’d hate to be told “you can’t submit to our magazine, because you are a writer of the wrong genre.”

Categories are not for the writers but, maybe, for the readers, and probably for the publishers – and I realize that a publisher or a reader might like to put me in a box, for ease of classification. But I’d hate for it to become an imposition.

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 “Boxes

  1. I write what I feel like writing. If that means writing “fantasy” all my life and being branded a fantasy writer, meh. The shoe fits. If I dabble in other areas one day I’d hope I don’t get pigeonholed as the fantasy writer trying to break into romance (or whatever)… but if it does happen, it happens. People need to categorise… it’s what we do.


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