Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Who am I to judge?

And so it is official – I will be one of the judges in the horror short story I Racconti del Gatto Nero (The Black cat’s Tales), which is part of the ToHorror film festival – the Turin Horror & Fantastic Film Festival, that is.
It will be interesting, having the opportunity of reading other people’s stories, and then discuss with the other judges about their merits and flaws, in order to pick a winner.

My best wishes to all participants.

Bribe money can be sent to my usual PayPal and Ko-Fi accounts.


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Escaping the pull of the past

A lot of people I know are re-reading old books. About two hours ago, I caught a vlog from an old friend, about how he’s re-reading some old Terry Brooks, because there’s nothing new that he finds attractive.
he probably read too much fantasy way back when, he said, and today’s offer is only urban fantasy or paranormal romance, and he does not care about that.

And I thought… really?

And do not get me wrong – I am pretty sure much of what’s being translated in my country right now is drivel, but the idea that “there’s nothing new” still makes me cringe.
There is good stuff out there – like, in cartloads.
And of course, as my poor mom used to say, “if you never read it before, it’s new”, and I’m all for reading what we missed in the past, and enjoying it.
But re-reading because there is nothing new?
Sorry, no.

We must resist the pull of the past, because I think that’s a sure sign we are getting old and losing our curiosity and our spirit of adventure. Maybe it’s because as we age, we do not feel like wasting time anymore, and we are scared at the idea of sacrificing a week for a bad book – a week nobody will ever give us back.
But being alive means looking for new things.

So I thought I’d point out a few titles I found very interesting recently.
Just for the sake of discussion.

  • Linda Nagata – Stories of the Puzzle Lands.
    Two novels in a single volume, that put a nice spin on a lot of classic tropes, and might take you by surprise, but in a very pleasant way.
  • Gareth Hanrahan – The Gutter Prayer.
    First in a series, good if you want to find the thrill of those old D&D games, and you like intrigue and urban settings.
  • P.W. Lewis – Kung Fu Fighting Vampire Mermaids.
    You know you are going to read this one just because of the title. And the cover art. But it’s fun, and weird and… weird.
  • Rob J. Hayes – Never Die.
    One of the best books I read this year. Oriental sword & sorcery, great characters, great story.
  • Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda – Monstress.
    This is a comic book, but it’s absolutely amazing.

So there you have it – fantasy is alive and well, and says Hi! to us all.


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I hope the cat did it…

There’s this photo a mate sent me, posted on some social or other by a Good Writer (and no, I don’t know who) somewhere here in Italy.
And no, I will not post the photo.
But to give you an idea, we see a desktop, with a flat screen, a sleeping cat and a keyboard. There’s an open notebook by the side of the keyboard, filled with scrawled notes (very neat) and a pile of books. Six books. On the screen, what I think is Microsoft Word, with two pages of manuscript side-by-side.

Yes, you know that sort of photo. Maybe it’s not even a stock photo (like the ones you’ll find in this post), but it looks and feel likes one.
It’s the classic “writer at work” photo you see posted around the web by Good Writers showing you their “WIP” – that’s “work in progress” for the uninitiated.

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A work (as yet) without a title

Three weeks ago I started writing just for the fun of it. Writing has always been a relaxing thing for me, a good way to quiet the mind and just let the words go from the brain, through the fingers and the keyboard, to the page. I did it as a kid, when I was learning to type on my mother’s Olivetti Lettera 32, and for a long time it’s been a way to get away from it all for a moment.

So I started writing, and for starters there were just two things – a piece of diary-like writing about an out-of-work actress/dancer looking for a job, any job, and an old dark house. That, and the idea that this would be a ghost story.

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Write or Die

As I think I mentioned a while back, one of those “memories” that Facebook serves us daily to make us feel miserable (that’s my explanation of this “feature”) made me aware of the fact that in 2019, by the 15th of August, I had submitted 55 short stories and articles to various magazines and anthologies.
By August the 15th 2020 I had only submitted 33.
That scared me as hell.

It was a sign of the HUGE amount of time I had wasted (so to speak) to follow the ghostwriting job from Hell that, as I mentioned a few days back, ended this September, with me not being paid.
I was also scared because a drop of 40% submissions could be a sign I was losing my ability to write a lot, and write fast – and by doing so, manage to pay the bills.

So I sat down, and started writing.

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Lupin the 3rd – The First

I had heard about the new, 3D CGI animated movie in the Lupin the 3rd franchise about one year ago – more or less when I learned of the death of Monkey Punch, the artist and writer of the original manga from which the character was derived. I was curious about the movie, but for a number of reasons, I had no opportunity to watch it.
Until last night.

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