Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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In Egypt with Belzoni

Now that I am free of the work for my Client from Hell and missing my payment (oh, the bank will love it!), I can start work on a new project whose contract I signed last week – an historical adventure, featuring the Great Belzoni.

In cased you missed him – hard, considering he was six foot seven inches tall, and wide in proportion – Giovanni Battista Belzoni was an Italian former student of divinities, adventurer, antiquarian, hydraulic engineer, egyptologist, stage magician and fairground strongman, that soon after Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt conducted a series of excavations along the Nile – basically because his work as an hydraulic engineer for the local administration had fizzed.

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Decompressing in Bloody Scotland

I’m taking the weekend off before I start working on my next project and try to go back to normal(-ish) and find a way to pay the bills, and so today and tomorrow I’ll attend a virtual convention online – listening to crime writers discussing their trade, and other wonders.

Bloody Scotland will be on today and tomorrow, and you can attend most of the events for free. Later this afternoon, both Robert Crays and Lawrence Block will be on. And I’ll be there.
Follow the link to know more – you can still enroll.


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Still, I live!

Today was not a good day.
First, three of my recent submission were rejected – with very nice rejection mails, but there you are.
Then, the ghostwriting client I’ve been working for in the last few months candidly told me he will pay the last instalment of my due if and when his book will be published. This means waiting three to six months – in the best hypothesis. I pointed out that this way I’ll be unable to pay my mortgage this winter, and he shrugged.
That’s my problem, he said.
He’s not wrong.

I often compare this writing business to a roller-coaster ride. In this sense, today is like the moment the wagon gets stuck upside-down, and they have to come and take you to safety using a crane.
I’m currently waiting for the crane.

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Charles R. Saunders (1946-2020)

I have just learned of the passing away, early last week, of Charles R. Saunders, the author whose Imaro was the first character in a fantasy genre that would come to be known as Sword & Soul, and whose catalog included some of the best fantasy produced in the second half of the 20th century.

I am absolutely devastated – no more than two weeks ago, I was suggesting Charlse Saunders’ books to a contact that was looking for some different take in sword & sorcery – and the recent reprint of the first Imaro book was just what he needed.

For me, Imaro was, with Elric, the first sign that there was life beyond Conan, and I still have my trade paperback of the first volume.

It’s time for a thorough re-read, in remembrance of a great writer.


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Witches

One of the good things I managed to do this month has been delivering (finally) the translation of my friend Francesca’s book about witches in Lombardy. Now the translation is in her hands – she’ll have to check I got all the plant names and other technicalities right, and then the book will hit the Amazon shelves.
We hope to have it out by Halloween.

The book is quite interesting, as it is a mix of brief essays and short stories, providing insight on many of the stories and legends – but also historical facts – about witchcraft in Northern Italy and in particular in Lombardy and in the Lake Como area.

When the book becomes available, I’ll make sure to put a shout-out here on my blog – this has been one of the most fun, most pleasant jobs I’ve done in 2020, and helped keep desperation at bay.
It will be good to have the book out for public consumption – Francesca deserves all the success she’ll certainly have.


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Writing stories as a kid

I found this incredible video this morning, in which Mary Robinette Kowal illustrates her approach to writing short fiction. It was something I fired up while taking a break for breakfast, and I found myself taking notes. Because it was that good.

But apart from the excellent content, there was something else that gave me pause: the lesson was presented in front of a room full of kids. As in high school kids.

And I found myself wondering what would have been of me, had I access to high-quality writing instruction when I was in high school.

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